Former Student's Comment:
"I cannot make a more enthusiastic endorsement of the American School of Lutherie, and its founder and teacher, Charles Fox. His students over the years run the gamut of builders from the esoteric to the traditional, and we are all the better for our experience with him ..."
"Thank you Charles, the class was everything I hoped for and more. Your insights into methods of building and jigs really filled our and expanded my knowledge of guitar building. As a professional woodworker for 14 years, I had always toyed with the idea of building guitars. I did a lot of research into how best to learn about it, and one name came up again and again, Charles Fox. Much of what I read about Charles, his methods, and his ingenuity really impressed me and made me feel as though this was someone I would like to get to know. It was a great delight when I found the listing for his Contemporary Guitar Making course. The first thing I can say having attended is "Wow!" was it ever great! The time literally flew by. There wasn't an hour that went by that we didn't discuss something – the class is very interactive – that was not only interesting, but an efficient, quality-engineered way of approaching some process of guitar building. By the end of the week, my notebook was full of notes and sketches, and I had taken over 100 digital photos.
This was truly the most valuable and informative week that I have had the pleasure in which to participate. Quite frankly, it has encouraged me to pursue guitar making as my new career direction. It was a true pleasure."
"After returning from your Contemporary Guitar Making seminar it took me two days to wind down a bit from the heightened sense of excitement that it had put me into. It was a very rich experience indeed! As someone of retirement age who has never built a guitar before I had a strong need to be exposed to the state of the art so I can get into it quickly. I could not have expected more. With your 35 years of guitar making experience you have built up a wealth of knowledge, and you have a great skill as a teacher to share it. You did so with enthusiasm. The fact that the class included only 4 students made the experience especially intense. What has impressed me the most was the way you think about process steps and how they can be simplified and made repeatable through simple jigs yielding consistently precise results. I expect that this alone will shorten my learning curve by years. In short, your seminar has given me access to a huge amount of knowledge which I will be able to make use of as I learn the craft. I am deeply grateful for it. My regards also to Denise for making sure everything ran smoothly."
Santa Clara, CA
"25 years ago I set off to Vermont to build a guitar. It was the beginning of the life I live today. Charles Fox is a teacher whose ability to fascinate compels understanding. Every morning we would listen for several hours as the day's lessons in craft would unfold. In the years since I took that course I have learned a lot of techniques and developed many concepts of my own, but I know that the fundamentals I now practice are rooted in those days so many years ago, consuming knowledge at the Fox studio. I have been able to think in more creative ways and build interesting instruments. I learned that the process of creation was more important than just making a guitar, and this allowed me to build whatever I wanted because I was given the gift of flexibility through which to grow, design and create.
We all have to start somewhere. Thank you Charles for putting my feet on the ground firmly enough that I had an opportunity to grow and experience so much throughout my career as a guitar maker. What I received from you has been with me all the way."
Paul McGill Guitars
"Hey, Hey! How are you sir? I'm currently trying to get some tools together – it's slow going but it will happen. You know, when I actually got that guitar home and had a chance to just sit down and look at the thing, I suddenly realized what I had done, and I could hardly believe it. I am in a state of disbelief, and that is a nice feeling. That is what you gave me, and I truly appreciate that. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and really making it all happen for me. You are a good soul. Take care and I'll talk to you soon."
"I can't tell you what a joy it was for me to attend your school and what great satisfaction I've derived from this noble craft.....thanks a million!!
"In six days, I learned more than the several months in the other program I’d attended. The class began, as it should, with the most basic and fundamental questions of what a guitar is and how to approach building it. The entire week was informed from those initial questions, and consequently the methodologies coalesced into a fully developed approach to guitar making. Several years later, I can safely say that my building is forever changed for the better, and that the depth of my inquiry and approach to building is more enlightened, more efficient, and that my guitars are far better than they would have been otherwise.
"I cannot make a more enthusiastic endorsement of the American School of Lutherie, and its founder and teacher, Charles Fox. His students over the years run the gamut of builders from the esoteric to the traditional, and we are all the better for our experience with him."
"Without sounding overly dramatic, the Hands-On Steel String Guitar Making class has definitely changed the course of my life as a guitar maker. Although the class is very focused and task oriented, there's plenty of discussion about the pros and cons of other construction techniques and methods. Unlike the typical student/master teacher relationship, Charles invites his students to challenge his theories and techniques. Spirited, lively interaction was the order of the day.
Even with my previous guitar making experience, there were still too many "ah-ha" moments to mention. Much of Charles' methods and philosophy come from the belief that each instrument provides the builder with a goldmine of learning potential. Any beginning or experienced luthier will come away from this class with added confidence about the best approach, innovated solutions to building challenges, and efficient skills to bring to their own work. I can't say enough about my two weeks at ASL! I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to become a more focused builder. Regardless of your vision of your lutherie hobby or career, this total immersion in the craft, fed by so much professional experience in a great working space, will take years (maybe decades) off of your learning curve."
Laguna Beach, CA
"Hello Charles and Denise! I want to reiterate what a wonderful experience the class was for me. It's very brave of you both to offer such a course from your home, but the benefits of such an intimate setting are much appreciated by the participants. Of course, now I have tremendous "shop envy" (a theory that Freud would eventually have come around to) every time I turn around in my small and horribly cluttered shop. Where, I ask myself, am I going to put a table saw, jointer and edge sander? The guest bedroom is starting to sing a (luckily undetectable to my wife) seductive siren song, a song that sounds not unlike the high-pitched whine of a table saw..... (It'll never happen.)"
"I want to let you know how much I enjoyed my time with you in your Contemporary Guitar Making class. I found it to be extremely informative and just a lot of fun! I have been building stringed instruments for 30+ years and have always had trouble with some operations (binding and finishing in particular). I came away from the class with answers, procedures and ideas for tooling that will help me greatly in these areas in the future. The class also instilled in me the desire to strive for more professional quality in my product. Thank you!"
"I wanted to again express my deep appreciation for your ASL class. The abundance of your knowledge, skill, candor, and warmth made the potentially exhausting schedule totally rewarding for me. I expect it must take you quite a while to recover from such a demanding period of "output." Even though I have yet to build a guitar, as a woodworker I know that you have saved me from many potential pitfalls and time losses. In addition, your combination of production-style jigs and efficiency with the highest level of hand craftsmanship was inspiring. As a side comment, I feel that you are totally successful in your personal goal of using your luthiers craft and fundamental harmony of design to make a definitive statement of elegant simplicity and mouth-watering appeal in a custom guitar. (Wow, that was a mouthful).
I was still wired enough from the course that the drive back home was no problem, but coming home sure felt good! We jumped right back into work on the shop - one side benefit of the course was that I could incorporate your ideas into some of the layout of benches and machinery. My mind is still so busy with guitar making, that I have to be careful when I wake up in the middle of the night. It is a bit frustrating not to be able to jump right in, but at least there is some benefit to all the thought and reading."
"Hi! My name is Rebecca and I was a student of your electric guitar making course in 1981. It changed my life and I loved it. I still enjoy woodworking and guitars but I make my living in Los Angeles as a costume designer. I was able to transfer all I learned at GRD (Charles Fox's Guitar Research & Design center, based in Vermont) to help me construct crazy outfits for the movies. I'm so glad you are still making beautiful instruments and sharing your skills with people that like to make things from planks of wood.
I learned so much from listening to you talk to us like how to problem solve and improvise without sacrificing the quality. How to be exact when measuring, working with fractions. I was never good at math but you were able to provide the missing link, proving what's on the paper by applying it to fret spacing. The pitch would be off if the measuring was wrong. We learned how to plan the construction while we were making the design sketches. I liked the fact you were steering us to be creative and not shooting us down. I made a few strange choices but I was allowed to try. You also stressed everything has to be 100% before moving on to the next detail. When I sew pockets and lining I wanted it to look clean like a wiring cavity. Art, beauty, function and skill. You can't slap things together and expect applause, and you can't skip a step and expect it not to haunt you later. I have the endurance to finish anything I start even if I hate it. (Especially when I hate it).
I also learned you can have a career making things that people enjoy. You also gave pointers how to deal with difficult clients. Since I love to make things it's great to get paid for it. I loved the way the classes were structured. I absorbed everything like a sponge. You are a gifted teacher and I was so lucky to find the article in guitar player magazine. I always think that going to GRD was the beginning of finding myself and all the good stuff that followed. Thanks!!!!"
Los Angeles, CA
"I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed your class and how much I am looking forward to April (returning for the Hands-On course). I've already had my photos developed, ordered several books, plans, and catalogs online, joined GAL, and Mona and I have been cleaning out the garage so I can build a workshop. I can't wait to get started!"
Altamonte Springs, FL
"Hey Charles, my guitar building is going great. I'm still amazed I can actually do this. I can't thank you enough. I have millions of ideas going through my head all the time about what new things I can do. Anyways, thanks for all your advice and teachings, I'm having a lot of fun!""First and foremost, thanks for the great class this past week. I'm sure you get that all the time, but I really can't stress enough how much I learned and what it meant to me. I can't even begin to fathom the tidbits of knowledge that I'll be putting to new instruments soon!"