Unless you’ve been to band camp or play a lot of Words With Friends, you probably have no idea what a luthier is. Allow us to introduce Harry Williams, one of the few folks around with the know-how to repair musical instruments.
Williams has been plucking his way through a fascination with stringed instruments since childhood, and has made providing TLC to these melody makers his life’s work. Including work done in his very first luthierie (Loo-THEE-er-EE) run from his backyard, Williams has been building, restoring and repairing strings and the bodies that house them—from lighter kit like violins and ukes to space eaters like pianos—in Northern Colorado for 35 years and counting.
Williams’ work has kept him busy enough to limit his playing time, but he says the work is fulfilling, especially because he shares the job with his son. Together with Aaron, who joined their Old Town Fort Collins shop in 2010 and works primarily with the larger instruments like cellos and basses, the Williamses spend most of their time repairing and restoring, including basic maintenance for bows and string, but also build customized instruments on an individual basis.
“With the workload we’ve had, I really couldn’t have done it all myself,” the elder Williams admits.
Williams & Son Luthier and Stringed Instrument Repair works with musicians of all skill levels. The job stays fulfilling, says Williams, because “You never know what’s going to come through the door.” —Andrew Kensley