Why hand made?
At the Acoustic Music Company I am often asked how hand made instruments differ from similarly priced instruments made by the 'famous names'. I have visited them all. The most obvious difference is in volume of production, commonly 300 - 500 guitars a day, most of the luthiers I represent make 10 - 20 instruments a year. There are three main areas of difference affecting tone..
Wood selection; small quantities of the best woods can be hand selected for their tonal and visual qualities by a luthier making a few guitars a year, there simply isn't enough top quality wood available to make 500 guitars a day (the production level of Martin and Taylor). Imagine selecting the best 1% of the woods the big makers use and only rejecting that, this is what the small makers are able to do, and by visiting suppliers that only have small quantities of wood available - and building up long term relationships with them - woods can be obtained that are effectively not available to the big names..
Wood use; even in the highest quality tonewoods there are minor variations, even in wood from the same part of the same tree. The individual craftsman can allocate woods with the desired weight, density and flexibility to the appropriate instrument. For example, a particular top set may be more suitable for an OM than a Dreadnought.
Tuning; tops (soundboards) are tap tuned (held loosely and tapped to hear the tone) then thickness and bracing is adjusted by very small amounts to achieve the desired tonal characteristics. I have often watched luthiers shave a few thousandths of an inch off a brace and remark how much the tone has improved. There are not enough skilled craftsmen around for the 'mass producers' to apply these techniques to each guitar.
In mass production this attention to detail is not possible. Add to this the personal involvement of the luthier with their name on the instrument and I believe that these are the best guitars and mandolins available. They are works of art both acoustically and aesthetically. I keep many instruments in highly figured woods such as Quilted Maple, Koa, Ziricote and Cocobolo. TAMCO is the sole outlet in the UK and Europe for many of the world's finest luthiers, and also stocks a wide selection of vintage instruments.
Over 50 hand made guitars are kept in stock. These master craftsmen have many years of experience making the very best acoustic guitars for the finest players around, many have legendary status in the USA. There is a playing room and expert knowledge to help you choose the instrument of your dreams.
I keep over 100 mandolin family instruments from mid range models to those made by the world's finest mandolin luthiers; mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin, bouzouki, mandocello and mandobass. For an explanation of the different mandolin family members see the Mandolin Family Explained page on this website.