Guitar maker Maurice Dupont
Passionate about machines, as a child, he had fun repairing the family’s toys and bicycles before turning to motorized bicycles. In high school he chose a career in technology, and then began a course in construction engineering at the Faculty of Engineering at IUT Bordeaux, the University Institute. While there, he discovered the craft of making stringed instruments and decided to undertake it. By the age of 17, Maurice had built a dulcimer and, by 18, an electric guitar with instructions from a DIY magazine.
As there was no school that taught string instrument making techniques, and as he was too old to go to Mirecourt, the string quartet school, the alternatives were to study abroad or learn himself. He decided to go to Paris, where Jacques Favino, George Brassens’ guitar maker, opened his workshop for him. Through observation, Maurice learned a lot from Favino, while his son, Jean-Pierre, advised Maurice to make a study cabinet; this he did in Vendée.
Already qualified, Maurice made a hurdy-gurdy who was sworn in to the manufacturer CAMAC in Nantes and was hired there as a manufacturer of musical instruments. In 1981, he settled in Boutiers, near Cognac in Charente, in a 500 square foot building. From the beginning he was mainly dedicated to the manufacture of guitars, but also to the repair of all kinds of instruments. Little by little he began to sell his work and began to hire personnel. Focusing on classical guitars, he paid special attention to the wood side, but at the same time he sought the best sound quality. This constant search for quality led him later to work with Roland Dyens and Roberto Aussel. In 1989, Maurice Dupont received the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best French Craftsman – for the production of a classical guitar.
In 1986, Maurice made the first copy of the Selmer-Maccaferri guitar type at the request of Lucien Viollet, a gypsy guitarist from the band Romano Swing. These gypsy guitars have since become the shop’s leading product, accounting for about 50 percent of guitar sales. This international renown has been built thanks to the trust of artists such as Raphael Fays, Biréli Lagrène, Marc Fosset, as well as Romane with whom Maurice has started an even closer collaboration. The rest of the production is represented by classical, steel string, flat top, archtop and electric guitars. In addition, always curious and passionate, Maurice has made instruments to special order, such as the Hawaiian Weissenborn guitar, acoustic bass, electric bass, banjos and even folding double basses. In instrument making, obtaining certain parts is problematic. The solution was to create an engineering workshop alongside the existing facilities. Similarly, by setting up his own lumber drying and sawmill space, Maurice is now in full control of the quality of the woods used.
Maurice Dupont likes collaborative work. To reach his current team of guitar makers, he has trained more than 30 people. Several of his former apprentices have worked in marquetry, cabinetmaking or even set up their own workshops, for example, P. Ducroz (Savoy), JP Sardin (Barcelone), A. Mazaud (Normandie), F. Bélier (Gironde) ), C. Huort (Vienna).
In conclusion, having started only in his 500sq. ft. of space, 27 years later, Maurice Dupont has dedicated his business to a team of 14 people working on a 5000sq. Square foot building, with its own engineering workshop, lumber yard and sawmill. It is now the largest guitar making workshop in France. It’s also right here on the web, and around 500 instruments are manufactured and shipped around the world each year.