Paul Hostetter, luthier
all the other instruments
colleagues and allies
new dimensions in lutherie
|About my work with
...meaning the ones I work on that
The very first instrument repairs I ever did were to guitars (my own) in 1960 or so. I first took money for doing it at the Denver Folklore Center in 1963. Since then, I have worked on thousands of guitars and other instruments, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I have built a few, and have helped develop some very nice guitar models with Santa Cruz Guitar Company and Maurice Dupont, but my real specialty is bringing out the potential in instruments and making them function optimally.
I have worked extensively on every imaginable kind of guitar: archtops, flattops, classicals, resophonics and Selmers, harp guitars, Hawaiian lap steel guitars, baroque guitars and Old World vihuelas.
Besides the guitars, however,
years I have cultivated expertise in some unusual
Numerous bowed instruments that don’t fit the mold of
family: the viola d’amore, hardingfele (Hardanger
of different types, gadulkas, and so forth. And
This is a zhuqin, a very primitive bowed instrument from southern China
Living amidst a number of vibrant ethnic communities has fortunately enabled me to hone my skills on these more exotic instruments, bowed and otherwise, over the years.
My forte with instruments is maximizing their sound and playability. I have particular expertise in getting instruments to play in tune. I did my first Martin warrantee work in 1965, and did a great deal of that "street-grade" setup before I moved on to more challenging work in non-fretted and specialty instruments. I still serve a long-established plectral constituency, however, and truly enjoy it.
I love the guitar. It’s my first instrument, and I own probably too many of them. Among my favorites (though I don’t sure own all of these!), in something approximating chronological order: Antonio Stradivari, Antonio de Torres, C.F.Martin, obviously, Joseph Bohmann, Luigi Mozzani, Orville Gibson, Lloyd Loar, Michael Iucci, John D’Angelico, the Larson Brothers, Mario Maccaferri, and others. I consider the present day to be the real Golden Age of lutherie—so many masters walking among us right now. Perhaps the only thing that will bring this current wondrous epoch to a close is a shortage of materials.
When approaching any instrument, I combine my penchant for forensics with a background in organology and music history. My experience in museum conservation has taught me that "restoration" is anathema to the originality of many rare instruments, so I always balance an instrument’s historical significance against the consequences of things that might be done to it for the sake of immediate playability.
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