Guild of American Luthiers


Guild of American Luthiers

It’s no surprise that nonprofit organizations struggle more with longevity and staying afloat for an extended time—specifically in the last few years with the pandemic.

As we have approached year two of the pandemic, organizations are still struggling to adjust to their new version of normal. The long-term effects of COVID-19 and its impact on the state of philanthropy are something that most nonprofit organizations continue to deal with moving forward.

 However, the Guild of American Luthiers has found itself in a position of gratitude as they look back on what the last few years dealt them.

The Convention & The Journal


“Mainly, the only thing that has changed for us since the pandemic is having to cancel our 2020 convention and reschedule for next summer,” said Deb Olsen, Vice President, Treasurer, and member of the Guild Board of Directors. “Otherwise, we’ve been able to continue all of our usual publishing and mail order services with little interruption.”

The Guild of American Luthiers was created over 50 years ago when several luthiers thought it would be good to start an organization to share what they were learning to better the craft.

“It has grown from a loosely knit group of around 40 people to a respected educational organization with members all over the USA, Canada, and about 40 other countries,” said Deb.

Created on the foundation and the mission of providing information to all luthiers and anyone making or repairing stringed instruments, the Guild of American Luthiers prided themselves on promoting and exemplifying sharing information, which is the norm in the lutherie community today.

A nonprofit, educational membership organization, the Guild focuses on the art, craft, and science of stringed instruments. 

“The Guild is still important to luthiers today because they can get information and inspiration on all types of stringed musical instruments,” said Deb. “We’ve set a standard of excellence in our publishing that people respect. We’ve kept to our principle that everyone has something to share and something to learn.”

After a six-year break, many luthiers worldwide anxiously anticipate the Guild of American Luthiers convention rescheduled for summer 2023, which will feature lectures and workshops by prominent instrument makers on a wide range of lutherie topics.

The convention also features music sessions where luthiers hear their instruments played and see new instrument exhibitions, luthier wood, and other tools for sale with vendors, concerts, open mikes, and silent and live auctions to support the guild.

Since its inception, part of the Guild’s mission was to connect luthiers at its conventions, so the luthiers learn from each other.

Aside from their conventions, the Guild of American Luthiers produces the American Lutherie, a journal for luthiers. A membership with the Guild of American Luthiers includes four annual journal issues, access to exclusive web content, discounts on publications, monthly e-newsletters, a membership certificate, and helping to support and sustain the guild’s mission.

This quarterly journal is rich in quality luthier content in every aspect of the lutherie community for which the Guild of American Luthiers is known. Starting as a small newsletter in 1972, the American Lutherie became a full-sized journal in 1985, striving to publish methods, opinions, and explanations backed by experience. The highly regarded publication makes the Guild of American Luthiers what they are today, sharing daily updates and information with the lutherie community.

 As much of the nonprofit world struggled to stay afloat, much less be successful, the Guild of American Luthiers thrived and kept its mission focused on the luthiers of the world.

“Knowing that we have created a community of luthiers and a culture of information sharing within the craft that has resulted in a modern Golden Age of lutherie is the most rewarding thing we could ask for,” said Deb.