Paul Hostetter, luthier
bowed instruments
all the other instruments
professional background
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colleagues and allies
new dimensions in lutherie

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About my work with 
Fretted (and "other") instruments

...meaning the ones I work on that 
don't often appear in symphony orchestras 

This is Mary Goshtigian,
                    Fresno California 1941The 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, over the last 40+ years I have cultivated expertise in some unusual instrument specialties, for example:

The entire lute/mandolin family in its various and glorious ethnic manifestations, from the Indies to the Andes to Naples to Kalamazoo to Mt. Fuji, including Malagasy kabosy, laudas, bandurrías, citterns, octave mandolins, and the Brazilian bandolim. New World vihuelas including the Mexican vihuela, its big cousin the guitarrón, not to mention the viola caipira, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican cuatros, Turkish saz and its uptown cousin, the Greek bouzouki family (the real bouzoukis!), central Asian dutars, baglamas, Cuban tres and all the other members of the Latin family of string instruments including its numerous guitar variants like the bajo sexto, requinto, charango, jarána, cavaquinho, ukulele, all the Portuguese violas and guitarras, tamburas, balalaikas, laoutos, cobzas, European lutes. And ouds: I have a good touch with ouds. All kinds.

❖  Indian instruments: sarods, sitars, sursringars, sawrodes, tanpuras, and so on.

Resophonic instruments, particularly Nationals. I have done a fair amount of work on Dobros and Del Vecchios, not to mention the end-of-the-line things put out by OMI of Long Beach. My heart has always been with Nationals, both the Dopyera originals and the San Luis Obispo creations of the current National Resophonic Company. I have admired some of the other current makers of gourmet resophonic instruments, particularly Mike Lewis of France.

octave mandolin 1980,
                          after IucciThis is an octave mandolin I built, inspired by Michael Iucci
 Things with vibrating skin membranes: banjos, African lyres, çümbüs, shamisen, sanxian, sarod, rebab, Persian tar, etc. I also have a good background in harps, zithers and lyres, from Europe, South America and Africa, pedal and bardic harps, koras, valihas, marovanies, assorted folk harps, alpine zithers, and so forth. 

Numerous bowed instruments that don’t fit the mold of classical violin family: the viola d’amore, hardingfele (Hardanger fiddle), kemanche, lyras of different types, gadulkas, and so forth. And Strohviols.

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—John Monteleone, Stefan Sobell, Allan Beardsell, SCGC, Dana Bourgeois, the late Bill Collings, on and on. 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. 

If you have any special string instrument 
that you feel would benefit from a consultation or examination, 
please get in touch. 

Drop me a line  click here


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