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About the luthier - Steve Saperstein
I started building guitars 12 years ago as a hobby and now work in my shop at home, building instruments on a full time basis. My first instruments were classical guitars and ukuleles, but my passion for jazz led me to arch top and solid body guitars.
My approach to guitar making is to make instruments that sound good and that reflect the best craftsmanship that I am able to produce. I have a bias towards using as much wood in a guitar as possible, so I prefer making instruments with wood binding and my own hand made wood tailpieces and wood pick up rings. I strive to build guitars that have a full, woody tone and that have a solid feel. To that end, I construct necks with carbon fiber rods and hardwood laminations for the maximum strength and minimal flexibility. My arch top bodies are all solid wood, the finest spruce and maple that I can find, and I employ offset x-bracing and top and back carving techniques that result in a balanced tonal range and maximum volume. For my solid body instruments I also build laminated necks with carbon fiber rod inserts and a 15 degree headstock angle instead of the more typical flat sawn plank necks with string trees. This produces more downward pressure on the nut, increasing sustain and promoting the the wood to interact with the vibration of the strings. This neck construction also gives the instrument a very vibrant feel to the hands and body of the player.
The joy of building is something that, for me, goes beyond the technology and the craft. I enjoy the work - cutting, sanding, planing, scraping, polishing - but the payoff of hearing what I build sets this labor apart from other arts and crafts that I have pursued. It is hard for me to describe the excitement, pride, bliss, and spiritual uplift that I feel each time one of my instruments comes to life and utters its first sounds and how these feelings return when I hear others play instruments that I have built.
There are three people that I would like to acknowledge. The first is Tom Ribbecke. I had the good fortune to meet him at the Healdsburg guitar festival. Since then Tom has been a tremendous help as a tutor and a friend, and although my guitars are not copies of Tom's, his craftsmanship and dedication to the art of lutherie is a constant inspiration for me. Second is Frank Ford. I currently spend one day a week repairing and setting up guitars and other fretted instruments with Frank at Gryphon Stringed Instruments. He has been a wonderfully patient teacher and has helped me hone my skills in ways that only a master repair person could do. And last, I'd like to acknowledge my wife of 33 years, Nancy. She is my strongest supporter and is always there to give me a boost after the latest disaster (yes, luthiers do have them and if they say they don't, they are lying!), and to praise my work as if each one were a Michelangelo.