Frank Finocchio has been building fine guitars for over 30 years, specializing in acoustic flat top, classical and arch top instruments. Frank is also nationally and internationally known as a teacher in the art of lutherie and restoration.
During the past 20 years, well over 400 students have passed through his 7-day, hands-on workshop. He currently hosts hands-on workshops four times a year in his fully equipped studio/workshop.
The Sprezzatura of Teaching Guitar Making*
Frank Finocchio teaches novices to make beautiful guitars in a little workshop in Northeast Pennsylvania. Finocchio’s involvement with musical instruments began when he was 8 years old; one day his father placed a full accordion on his lap and told him to learn to play it. He did. As a young man in the Coast Guard, Finocchio spent hours in the ship’s machine shop learning to use the machine tools. He then worked as a machinist at a compressor manufacturing company, and in 1989 was hired by Martin Guitar Company to work at the Saw Mill purchasing wood for high-end furniture makers. Soon Frank was consulting for Martin on the purchase of exotic woods for instruments and Woodworkers Dream (an outlet for wood workers).
In 1996, Frank moved to the Main Plant of Martin as a process engineer and there Frank developed many new processes for the work force and the product. Lastly, Frank developed and patented a process for the making of the Martin DX guitar, which included new tools, new processes and new types of molds. The DX guitars were a huge success. In 1998, Frank left Martin to begin teaching guitar making on his own and making custom guitars and mandolins.
Finocchio describes his teaching style with an Italian word: sprezzatura the art of making the difficult appear easy (to his students). He actually stretches the meaning to include transforming the actual work of the luthier from the difficult to the easy. Sprezzatura happens through the careful integration of knowledge, skills and ability with a dash of personality thrown in. Frank developed a deep technical knowledge of both machine operations (lathes, milling machines, drills, etc.) and wood properties (tonal qualities, reactions to woodworking tools) in his various occupations. Frank coupled that knowledge with skills peculiar to the luthier: the right angle and force level for chisels, the right amount of sanding at various stages and so forth. To this, Frank added requisite abilities, including finger dexterity, eye-hand coordination and visualization (being able to imagine, even in the early stages of construction, how a finished guitar will look). Visualization is particularly important in determining how to correct a student’s error (e.g., a wrong cut, a wrong hole) without starting all over. Finally, Finocchio adds the personality attributes of conscientiousness (particular attention to detail), patience and agreeableness. He guards against a strong achievement orientation, since he is teaching students who do not always have the needed skills but encourages all to be the best they can be. Frank also allows the student to realize the creativity that is within oneself. In his low-key manner, Frank helps them produce a better instrument than they could have imagined.
In short Frank Finocchio practices sprezzaturo in his work and accomplishes it with an admirable combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and personality characteristics.
* Published in Work in the 21st Century by Frank Landy and Jeffrey Conti
His workshop/studio is tucked away in the heart of historic Easton, Pennsylvania, in a restored 19th Century carriage house with two large studio work areas. It is easily accessible from Philadelphia and New York City.
Click here or on the map for directions.