Paul attended three shows last year, Fretboard Journal Summit, the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration, and the Woodstock Invitational Luthier’s Showcase. There he met a number of new builders with some truly awe-inspiring builds. Naturally, we took several of them on as new builders for Dream Guitars! Alongside Michel Pellerin, Sam Guidry, and Isaac Jang, we’re also proud to have added French builder Loïc Bortot (of Bouchereau Guitars) to our ranks! We’ve already sold the Mistral OM Loïc sent us, but do check out the listing to read more about this awesome guitar and get a listen to Al’s demo. You can find it on our site here: https://www.dreamguitars.com/detail/5391-bouchereau_mistral_009/. The next Mistral is already in the works, though, so read to the end for a few sneak peak photos of the next one. In addition, we’d like to share his responses from a brief interview we conducted with Loïc earlier this year. Enjoy!
What or who inspired you to begin building guitars?
Before coming to Canada to become a luthier, I experienced several fields of study and unpleasant jobs in France. I spent two years in college studying Geography, but I was fed up with theoretical knowledge and I needed to experiment in a handwork field. Besides that I did a couple jobs in huge factories with low revenues and boring days. Seeing people who have been working there for years so unhappy made me realize that I had to find a good job before it was too late. I played a lot of guitar by that time, and even though I had never worked with wood before, I decided to give building a try. My first glimpse of the beauty of handmade guitars came from the work of Frank Cheval. Then I went to Quebec City and began the course at the Lutherie School in 2011.
2016 Bouchereau Mistral #009 in Ziricote & Lutz Spruce
What builders inspire you today?
Today, I am inspired by a lot of luthiers, mostly from North America: Ervin Somogyi indeed, and all his students. Michael Bashkin, Mario Beauregard, Michel Pellerin, Tom Doerr. Also, I am a great fan of Japanese craftsmanship, and their luthiers honor us with their great talent: Nishi Keisuke, Ryosuke Kobayashi, Ryohei Echizen, Hiroshi Ogino, Keisuke Fuji, and others. I am developing my own approach of design and building, but all these talented fellow builders are a part of my own development as a luthier.
Please describe your goals in voicing an instrument. How did you first find your voice, and how do you continue to experiment?
As I am still at the beginning of my career, my voicing methods are constantly evolving. My guitars are mostly designed for fingerpicking, and I am now focusing on controlling my back, top, and body pitch so they work together as a whole. When calibrating the parts, I focus a lot on their stiffness to weight ratio, I try to get my tops as light as possible so they have a quick and focused response. My comprehension of the frequency and vibrating behavior of the instrument remains a complex point for me. I am developing a new testing method based on some precious advice I got from Leo Buendia at the 2016 WILS. I truly believe, like most builders, that voicing and making instruments is an endless learning process.
Ziricote Back & Sides, Ebony Bindings & Heel Cap
Where do you think your building style will take you in the next five years?
My goal for now is to get my name out there. My participation to the 2016 WILS and my new partnership with you guys at Dream Guitars have really helped me to put my name on the map! For the next five years, I want to attend more guitar showcases like Woodstock, fill up my order list, and continue to develop my model lineup. I also have some unique guitar projects that I am dreaming to complete when the timing and finances allow it. I want my job as a luthier to be secure, and for that the Canadian Immigration department has a critical role to play as well.
Any interesting facts about your building process or shop arrangement?
My shop is small but functional for my work. I build most of the tools and jigs I am using myself, such as the binding channel routing arm, bending machine, molds, etc. I would rather spare hundreds of dollars in making my own stuff, and I also find it more satisfying in the end. My job as a technician at the Quebec Lutherie School is an amazing opportunity for me to have access to heavy machinery.
Bortot’s One-Man Shop in Quebec, Canada
What was your favorite, or your first, instrument that you ever played?
My very first guitar was my father’s old Japanese Takeharu Dreadnought, but it was not my favorite. As I am mostly an electric guitar player (which can sound odd as I have never built any) my favorite guitar in terms of playing would be my Gibson Les Paul. I also love playing on Bouchereau Guitars, indeed!
What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?
My life is mostly lutherie-focused, and even though it can be kind of isolating, my mind remains pretty healthy. Of course I have other activities in life, like paragliding in the summer and skiing in the winter, or just hiking from time to time. I love hanging out with my friends too. I try to go back to France once a year for a couple of weeks. It is always a blast to spend time with my friends and family there, and to put aside my rushed Canadian life for a while.
If you had not become a guitar maker, where do you think life would have led you?
If I was not a guitar maker now, I would probably be working in France in a wine industry job with my brain turned off and my TV turned on.
What music are you listening to right now?
Led Zeppelin, The doors, Snarky Puppy, Vulfpeck, System of a down, Chinese man, Justice, Paul Kalkbrenner, Chopin; among many others. I almost always work with music in the background in my workshop.
We’ve sold the first Mistral you sent us, but you’re already working on the next one. Can you share a few details about the upcoming Mistral for Dream?
I have some pics of the guitar in progress for you, but it is at a pretty early stage right now. I am currently gluing the bracing on the top and back, and I have not started assembling the rim yet. The features of the upcoming Mistral are high-grade Sitka Spruce top, Quilted Sapele back and sides, Florentine cutaway, Ebony bindings, and Honduran Mahogany neck. 25.4″ scale length, Ebony fingerboard and bridge, Schertler tuners (or Gotoh 510 maybe), and a raised fingerboard.
Sitka Spruce Top