Worland Custom Guitars

Frequently Asked Questions.

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Some of the FAQ's I often get. If you don't see a question here feel free to email me. I am happy to answer all questions and love talking guitars.

Who are you?

My name is Jim Worland. I am a luthier (a builder of string instruments). I began building instruments in 1991 and started Worland Guitars in 1997 by building custom guitars to order. You can read more about me here.

How did you learn to make guitars?

I got a book at the library! That's how I built my first guitar. Since then I have studied guitar building with Charles Fox and I belong to several luthier organizations including the Guild of American Luthiers. So I am basically self taught and I continue to learn more all the time.

How long have you been making guitars?

I began building instruments in 1991 and started my own business in 1997.

Do you make your living doing this?

Yes, I build guitars full time and actually make a living at it, a modest living but I love what I do.

How much are your guitars?

Prices cover a wide range depending on what you want. A guitar can range from around $1000 to over $10,000. My price list shows the prices and has most options listed but I am happy to quote you a price on a custom instrument.

How do I go about ordering one?

Give me a call or email me and we can discuss what you want and work out a price. Once we determine all of the details you can send a down payment to reserve a spot in my schedule.

How much of a down payment do you require?

I ask for about 50% down and the remainder before the guitar is shipped. I understand that it's a big purchase so if you would like to make smaller payments and stretch them out over time we can work something out. All I ask is for some money up front and that the guitar be paid for before it's shipped.

What type of payment do you take?

You can mail a personal check, cashier's check or money order. I don't take credit cards but I can accept payments through PayPal. For international orders I find PayPal works well.

How long do they take to make?

Depending on how booked up I am with orders it can be several months before I can begin construction. Once I start it typically takes about 4 months to actually build your guitar (about 6 months for a harp guitar). I will give you the best estimate I can of when to expect your guitar to be done and I'll let you know when I'm about to begin building your guitar.

Can I see my guitar being made?

Absolutely! The favorite part of the process for the customer is seeing your guitar come together. I will email you photos of the progress and keep you updated as to how things are going.

What if I don't like the guitar once I get it?

Happy customers are my best marketing so I want to make sure your guitar is just the way you want it. I will do whatever it takes to make sure it is right for you. And if I can't make it right I can build you a new guitar or refund your money.

Can I visit your shop sometime?

Visitors are always welcome. If you live nearby or if you are ever in the Chicago area just drop me a line to make sure I'm around. I don't have a retail showroom, just a workshop but I usually have several guitars around to play.

What woods are best?

There is no "best" wood for a guitar. Many different woods can be used and they all have their particular tonal properties. The wood used for the guitar's top makes the biggest contribution to the sound followed by the back wood. We can discuss what woods are best suited for your tone and playing style. I have more info on top woods and back woods.

Can I supply the wood for my guitar?

Certainly. You are welcome to supply woods as guitar sets or rough lumber plus any other items you might want incorporated into your guitar.

What do they sound like?

All guitars sound different. I strive for a clear balanced tone. But different players are looking for different things. Once I know what tone you are looking for and have a good idea of your playing style I can shape the tone using the woods and bracing to suit your needs. My Youtube channel has several videos of people playing my guitars.

Where can I play one of your guitars?

I sell through a few retailers but mainly I sell directly to customers. I can put you in touch with someone in your area or someone who has one of my guitars similar to the one you may want. I usually attend Healdsburg Guitar Festival or you can visit my shop.

Do you teach guitar making?

I teach guitar making on a one-on-one basis. My students are always amazed that their first guitar plays and sounds way better than any guitar they own. I'm never suprised by that!

Do you do repairs?

I try to avoid routine repairs but I occasionally take on a more challengeing vintage repair or restoration.

Do you buy guitars?

No. I have too many guitars already!

What is a harp guitar?

A harp guitar is basically a normal 6 string guitar with some added unfretted strings, usually bass strings and sometimes trebles which extend the range of the guitar. Originally the extra bass strings were used for bass acompianment but now harp guitarists are using all sorts of techniques like harmonics, slapping, hammer-ons, and so on. The best place to learn about harp guitars is www.harpguitars.net

How do you bend the sides?

Everyone asks this. It's done with a combination of heat and moisture. The wood is moisened (not soaked) then bent in a heated press or bent by hand over a hot pipe. It is one of the trickiest parts of guitar building.

How do you attach the neck?

Most of my necks are bolted on similar to a Taylor. This allows for much easier neck resets if one is necessary in the future

Can I get a neck like I have on my favorite guitar?

Sure. If you have a favorite neck you can take measurements or you can send me the guitar and I can duplicate it as closely as possible.

What sort of finish do you use?

I use traditional lacquer.

What is that wierd symbol?

Back in the 1890's the Roycrofters (meaning king's craft) were a group of artisans who reacted against factory mass production by making fine hand made goods in the spirit of the arts and crafts movement. Their symbol was a medievel orb which I have modified into a guitar. Their tradition continues to this day and their works are highly sought after by collectors. In my work I attempt to imbue my guitars with the embodiment of their ideals of "Head, Hand, Heart"

Does anyone famous play your guitars?

No one who is famous yet! But you could become famous- who knows.


Worland Guitars - 810 North First Street - Rockford, IL 61107 - 815.961.8854


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