10 Questions We Ask Everyone

Marc Lupien - XXL Guitars (Canada)

XXL GUITARS are made in a shop called Les ateliers de la corde located in Beauharnois, Québec, Canada by luthier Marc Lupien. We met Marc during The Holy Grail Guitar Show, when Berlin becomes the center of the guitar-making Universe. His Axxis Footbal Model caught our attention back then: what an amazing ‘deconstructive’ works with the top of the body!
Marc uses the original guitar structure developed by Nathan Daniels (Danelectro) in the 50’s: a guitar body made of a softwood core sandwiched between two thin plates of denser material. This technique gives an awesome look and a very special sound and tone to his instruments. Marc loves to play his electric guitars unplugged, as he says: they have to sound good without an amp…and they do the job!
Marc builds gorgeous guitars, choosing the best woods, source of inspiration that gives his instruments a soul.    


1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?

Marc Lupien: My father was a wood and metal worker, I always saw him working in the home shop.  When I began my Engineering career, the paper coming out of the printer was not enough for me… I looked for a hobby, and found that guitar making was perfect for me… I could use what I learned from looking at my father work, what I learned in luthier Merschool and what my gut is telling me to craft tone machines.  

2. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?

Marc Lupien: I am inspired by a lot of things… wood, colors, art…  but very often, it is the guitar player that inspires me most!  We discuss what style is intended to be play on the new guitar and what kind of sound has to be achieved.  Then we go through my stack of wood to determine what will be the best XXL Guitar for him (or her…).  It is a very fun process!  

3. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?

Marc Lupien: Even though I build electric guitars, I almost always play them acoustically…  If they can’t sound good without an amp, I failed somewhere!  A lot of guitar tones can be great guitar tones… depending on the style played and the hands of the player.  I believe that for every guitar out there, there is a player that will make it sound like it never sounded before.  Synergy between instrument and player is very important.  Therefore, I am not looking for a particular sound but I am looking for a great sound (and I find it regularly!!! ;-)  

4. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Select one and talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop…or other.

Marc Lupien: I feel that Blues is the soul of the rock sound!  So even though I listen to many music genres, a good blues guitar lick always gets me right in the heart!  

5. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?

Marc Lupien: I am a communal artisan…  I like to work on my stuff when other makers are present!  The exchange of information, tips and jokes while we are working is really important to me…  and, I am a little lazy.  

6. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?

Marc Lupien: A local young artist that borrowed to have me build her a fantastic Roxxy guitar.  She sings beautifully and fingerplays her XXL like a guitar hero!!!  Marie-Claudel Chenard is her name!  

...ONE BODY...

7. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?

Marc Lupien: Electric… unplugged! ;-)  My electric guitars are chambered and made of a soft tonewood core capped with hardwood plates…  this gives them an acoustic tone like no other electric guitar!  

...ONE NECK...

8. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?

Marc Lupien: The  laminations…  I prefer to use thin laminations of mahogany sandwiched between straight maple and framing a piece of figured maple.  This gives my necks a great stability and a superb look!    


9. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by the large manufacturers?

Marc Lupien:
A luthier-crafted guitar is made by the same two hands from beginning to end.  So, if the maker is worth his (or her) salt, the instrument will sound superior to a manufactured instrument that has had its various pieces made by various people that cannot have the same sensibility towards their work and often do not know how what they are doing impacts on the finished instrument.

10. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to have play your guitars?

Marc Lupien: I am blessed by being played a lot locally. Michel Rivard (Folk singer and songwriter), Rick Haworth (stage and studio player), Steve Hill (Guitar hero), Jeff Stinco (Simple Plan), Jean-François Beaudet (TV and studio player), Marc-André Rioux and Paul Théoret (Lendemain de veille), Bruno Coulombe (studio player and XXL Test Pilot), Marie-Claudel Chénard (Folk singer and songwriter), Jeff Smallwood (TV and studio player), to name a few. I am really happy with these players since they are all “tone freaks” and they chose my guitars.  That says a lot to me!  

Official XXL GUITARS website.
XXL Guitars for sale on Guitars Exchange.