I hate the title "Luthier". I build guitars (basses too)! I would never call myself one because I have never built a single lute. What I have been is way too interested in guitars my whole life. My very first guitar I ever had I immediately took it apart. Every screw and nut. all the electronics, even took the neck off. I just really wanted to know how it worked. What was it about these pieces of wood and metal that could moove me so deeply simply by making noise. It's been an obsession of mine since i was 4 years old, watching reruns of "The Monkees" and trying to figure out chords ala my air guitar. I can look back now and see that I never had a chance, it was always going to be guitars if I knew it or not. I was only when people started introducing me as "their Luthier", or mentioning me as "you know Josh, the Luthier" (as well as the giant dude) that I realized that it just wasn't me who thought I was good at this stuff. Everyone else did too.
As I said, i never had a chance, this really is my calling.
I was brought up in Fairfax, Va and from as early as i can remember guitars are the only thing i ever really cared about. In fact every job i ever had before becoming a builder I would always tell myself "as long as i have my guitars, i can stand this crappy job." That worked for a long time, but eventually if you have a calling, it's going to come calling for you.
For me it was a tragic accident in the early 2000's that left me unable to continue in the trade I had trained in for years. I really thought my life was over. I couldn't stand up long enough to play a gig or do anything for that matter. I had given up on life. It had become so bleak for me that I lost all hope. But my calling hadn't forgotten me, and chance meeting that year changed my life forever.
A very good friend who knew how dark it had gotten for me kept telling me about this guy he knew "who built really good guitars". I will never forget his words: "Hey man, you should go meet him, you love that shit." Truer words have never spoken. I was in a deep and dark place though, so I passed on it a bunch of times. but he persisted, "you should do it man, it could be good for you." His name was Richard Syarto. We talked about guitars for hours on end, and it turned out we had a shared love for Fender Stratocasters. "I worked for Fnder in the 80's" he said. As it would turn out Richard was a Fender Custom Shop Master Builder. He was one of the first and helped open the Custom Shop and was the chosen builder for ALL Fender Signature artists. He built for EVERBODY form Mr. Clapton to Mr. Malmsteen. in fact he had a title never given out since "MASTER LUTHIER"
From that moment on I felt a reason to live again, so I begged him to let me become his apprentice. I begged and begged some more. It took months of daily begging but eventually he gave in and I began my training.
He only let me watch him build the first one, but the second one was a different story. We built a Sonic Blue Stratocaster using the templates he had made from an original 1957 Stratocaster. Over the next several years I built under his tutelage, learning everything from design to finishing. Each step was exhaustive because his standards were so high. It made me be the best I could be and better than most, if I don't say so myself.
A lot has happened since I finishing my training. I started JPM Custom Guitars. I designed and built some guitars to really define what and where I wanted to be as a builder. The response has been beyond amazing, I can't keep a guitar around long enough to show off to anybody. I wish I could list all the people who own and play my guitars, but several of them have endorsement deals with other companies, yet want mine anyway. I have been told several times that my guitar is their prized possession, and no one else is allowed to touch it! I have also been told that my guitar has made them feel as if they are better players because they are so effortless to play and sound so amazing.
How could I ask for more? building a guitar for someone who then goes out of their way to continually tell you how great it is. That is what I want to do for the rest of my life.