Joe Herrick's tutorial evaluation
jhgator @

I wanted to write an evaluation of the recent guitar making class I took with William Cumpiano. Writing this evaluation was harder than the course itself!. “Evaluation” feels much too stilted to describe this experience. It is difficult to know where to begin, but I will try. I had purchased William’s book a couple of years earlier and had poured over it repeatedly. I had been doing woodworking for several years building mainly furniture. Although I felt relatively competent enough with my tools, I couldn’t seem to overcome the inertia to begin. Oh sure, I could build the guitar, but how would it sound, what would it be like to play, etc. Don’t get me wrong, you most definitely can build a fine guitar using the book. But, I really wanted a class type environment to provide focus, answer questions, and help make my first attempt a success. William’s class provided all of that and more.

The class itself is very laid back and William is an excellent instructor. He works on a companion instrument, from start to finish. He executes a step, you follow suit. He does the next step and you do it on your guitar. He is also there to help when you get yourself in a bind on your own instrument only to the extent necessary. Meaning, he is very respectful of your guitar project and only provides help when you need or ask for it. The power of one on one instruction can NOT be overemphasized. I was able to stop and ask questions and pursue questions, thoughts, and details that suited my personal needs. Again, William’s knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge was a real pleasure. I was sharing my experiences with a friend and she summed it up pretty well: “You were an apprentice for 2 weeks”.

Some things about the course that were challenging for me was definitely the use of hand tools (versus power tools). Hand planes, chisels, rasps and files were used almost every day. Again, William’s guidance helped turn this challenge into something achievable and success was very rewarding. Attention to detail will also serve you well in this class. But let me caution against thinking that you will end up with a “perfect” guitar, especially if you are building your first guitar. That said, at the end of my course I had a beautiful custom guitar that sounds magnificent. Besides my guitar, I also walked away with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and appreciation of guitar building.

I also found that staying with William for the duration of the course to be a pleasurable experience. I was able to peruse his library of guitar related books and articles. In the mornings I was able to ride to the shop with William. We both arrived at the same time and could begin work. I was also able to walk 10 minutes into town on evenings that I wanted to get out for dinner or shopping. The town has quite a lot to offer in specialty store shopping and a varied selection of great eating establishments.

I would readily recommend this class to anyone with more than a passing interest in making a guitar. Whether you build only one guitar with William, or use this class as a beginning for a new hobby or even a career, this class will be a rare experience you will never forget.