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William R. Cumpiano, February 28

by on March 6, 2012

Last Tuesday our class got the chance to visit William R. Cumpiano, a master luthier working in Northampton Massachusetts.

He began learning how to make guitars in the 1970’s from european emigrants living in new york. These immigrants were the first people who treated guitar making as an art in the United States; previous to that guitar making was done in a factory setting on an assembly line. In the early 1940’s and 50’s, however, the first luthiers came to the United States, and it was from them that he learned his trade. In his time he has made over 200 unique guitars for musicians such as Arlo Guthrie, Michael Lorimer, John Abercrombie, Country Joe MacDonald, the Todd Rundgren band, June Millington, and Joel Zoss. In the pictures below you will see his unusual and beautiful works and repairs of rare and valuable instruments.

Other than guitars he has also built many traditional Latin-American instruments, and impressively he also built (presumably) the first guitar out of carbon-fiber ever. Because it is so strong, and so durable, he was able to build a very unusual guitar with significantly less bracing than a normal guitar. Unfortunately the process of cutting carbon fiber is very toxic so he hasn’t made to many of them, but he has patented the process.

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8 Easthampton Road, Northampton, Massachusetts, 01027



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