Though globalization and offshore manufacturing have conspired to undermine traditional guitar-making, a handful of fervent diehards persists in this centuries-old craft. Finesse and meticulousness are the watchwords of these great makers who, huddled in their workshops, design and manufacture unique instruments whose refinement delights professional musicians and lovers of fine guitars. At the heart of this industry, schools play a fundamental role not only in the transfer of know-how but also by nurturing innovation and development of the profession.
École de Lutherie-Guitare Bruand has been training guitar-makers for more than 40 years. In partnership with the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal, the school offers a vocational technical training program that welcomes about 20 new apprentices each year. Taken under the wing of master guitar-makers, these apprentices learn the trade and create various types of guitars, including a ukulele, a classical guitar and an acoustic guitar. After three years of training, students will have acquired the basics necessary for the design, manufacture, repair and restoration of plucked instruments. If Lutherie-Guitare Bruand can count on a teaching staff of a dozen professional recognized and established guitar-makers, the success of the formula resides also in the closeness of teachers and their pupils. In small groups, the future guitar-makers are trained in an intimate atmosphere reminiscent of the guild and the tight relationship that once united master craftsmen and their apprentices.
Beyond technical training, Lutherie-Guitare Bruand also offers various services and workshops aimed at enriching the apprentices’ experience. Professional guitar-makers, matched for the occasion with musicians specialized in a given instrument, are invited to present their creations in “Concerferences.” The school also takes part in instrumental acoustics research programs in collaboration with several guitar-makers and educational institutions in Europe, including Université du Mans. Finally, a partnership with the Conseil des métiers d’arts du Québec opens the doors of the Montreal Crafts Show to the graduates, offering them the opportunity to build relationships with local stakeholders while spotlighting their creations.
While major manufacturers flood the North American market with inexpensive, mass-produced instruments from overseas factories, there still exists a strong demand for skilled guitar-makers. At Lutherie-Guitare Bruand, no less than 74% of graduates work in an area related to their field of training, proving that guitar-making still has a bright future.