Program: Certificate IV of Instrument Making & Repair
Interviewed in 2008
Shane Briggs completed the Certificate IV of Instrument Making & Repair in its first year. Shane is now a well repspected Melbourne Luthier. He was recently invited to show his instruments in Berlin at the World Guitar Expo.
How long have you been Guitar Making and what related studies have you completed?
I’ve been building for about 6 years. After completing my VCE I began a one year course in Guitar Making & Repair at NCAT (Northern College of the Arts). It was the very first year that the course was running, which was great timing for me as I was undecided on what career path to choose. Whilst there I established a network with people in the instrument making industry and made great friends with fellow students whom I still see regularly. The most influential aspect of the course for me was the wealth of knowledge available to us through teachers and guest makers as well as well-equipped facilities.
Following completion of the course I did a bit of repair work in a Melbourne music store as well as a bit of work for luthier Jack Spira, who has also been a great influence of mine. Nowadays I design and build by own range of guitars from my Melbourne workshop
How would you best describe your building style and your guitars’ aesthetics and sound?
I use predominantly hand tools which allows me to get to know each piece of timber before it becomes a part of the guitar. The art of using hand tools suits my style more than using less tactile methods and unnecessary machinery. I like to incorporate new techniques such as carbon fibre neck reinforcements and double sides as well as learning older methods such as French polishing.
Like most guitar makers, my shape is a variation of the Martin OM shape in which I have altered the curves and lines of the silhouette.
For me, the most important thing is letting the timbers talk for themselves without the distraction of ornamentation such as inlays. I believe a well designed, highly crafted guitar can please the eye without the need for overdressing it.
As for sound, I would say that my guitars are well balanced for finger-style playing.