'meet the maker'
Morning Session Hosts
Topic: Developing Your Brand
Almost three decades ago, Dave Dunwoodie, Graph Tech's President, was mid-performance at a gig in his hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Hitting the tremolo bar on his first Fender® Strat (he was a Gibson® man) during a guitar solo, he was immediately introduced to the problem of string binding on traditional guitar nuts. "I went to do my first "wang" and went totally out of tune" Dave said. "I couldn't use the guitar for stage work at all.
Spurred by the resurgence in popularity of tremolo guitars, the need for pencil lead in the nut slots, and his own frustration, Dave began experimenting with a variety of composite guitar nuts designed to eliminate string binding. He engineered the world's first self-lubricating nut, a formula 500% more slippery than graphite. Almost thirty years later Graph Tech Guitar Labs has become an institution, producing some of the industries most innovative and reliable nuts, saddles bridge pins, bridges and pickup systems. Through patented methods and proprietary techniques, Graph Tech has designed specific tone and performance enhancements that were once impossible to achieve.
Topic: Remember, the guitar business is still a business!
Doug Kauer started Kauer Guitars in 2008 after a lifetime of working in the family woodshop. His experience, learned first hand in a multifaceted aspects of both running a business and hands-on manufacturing, has led to an impressive near 10-year run resulting in Doug making near tens of dollars.
Often an inspiration and role model of what not to do, Doug enjoys talking at length about guitars and the pitfalls of running a business. Doug is head luthier at www.kauerguitars.com and www.titanguitars.com, located in Sacramento, CA, a city whose unique laid-back atmosphere can be felt in Kauer's work.
Topic: My 50 Year Journey with Larrivee Guitar Company
Jean Larrivée is an internationally celebrated guitar maker, considered by many to be the father of modern guitar building in Canada.
At the age of 20, trained as a mechanic with no prior musical training, Larrivée decided to study classic guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He apprenticed intermittently during the late1960s with Edgar Münch, a German guitar builder then living in Toronto. Larrivée also worked in New York with Manuel Valasquez before opening his own studio in Toronto in 1968, producing about 30 instruments a year.
With guidance from Matt Umanov in New York, he began making steel-string instruments in 1970, modifying the Martin design. In 1977, Larrivée moved to Victoria, BC, and established a workshop which, by 1979, had 16 workers and an annual production of 1,000 guitars. In 1982, he relocated the company, Jean Larrivée Guitar Ltd, to North Vancouver, and subsequently produced several styles of steel-string guitars. In 2001, Larrivée opened a second factory in Oxnard, California, where he continues to build high-end acoustic guitars. Among Larrivée's early apprentices were Sergei DeJonge, Grit Laskin, and Linda Manzer, all of whom will be joining him at VIGF.
As the master guitar designer at Taylor Guitars, Andy Powers serves as the chief architect of new Taylor guitar models and leads the ongoing refinement of Taylor’s existing product line. Powers’ depth of expertise as a craftsman blends a finely honed sense of aesthetics with nuanced woodworking skills, building upon the rich heritage of previous generations of instrument makers while advancing the art form into inspiring new territory. His decades of experience in musical instrument construction, along with his guitar-making philosophy, have found the perfect home at Taylor Guitars.
Powers joined the company in 2011 at the invitation of Bob Taylor, who had gotten to know and admire his work in the same greater San Diego area where Taylor Guitars is based. Impressed with his pure guitar-making talent and his abilities as a player, Bob Taylor has called Powers “the best guitar builder I’ve ever met.”
Afternoon Session Hosts
Sergei de Jonge
Sergei de Jonge was born in the The Hague, Netherlands in 1949 and moved to Canada in 1953. In the early 1970s he apprenticed under Jean Larivee as well as Patt Lister, and quickly distinguished himself as a builder of highly reputable classical and steel string instruments.
De Jonge strove not to change the form of guitar so much as to perfect its structure, playability, and tone. The result is a comfortable concert guitar pure in form, long lasting, and true to the essence of the instrument.
In addition to producing world-renowned guitars, he is also notable for training all six of his children, the eldest of whom, Joshia de Jonge, now builds under her own name. He has taught a guitar-making course for over 20 years to some 400 students and trained a number of apprentices. Sergei de Jonge has built over one thousand guitars over his 46-year career and is considered a master of his craft.
Topic: The Challenges of Developing and Maintaining a Unique identity as a Guitarmaker
Michael Greenfield is widely regarded as one of the finest acoustic guitar luthiers building today. His instruments are renowned for their rich, powerful voice and are used in concert halls and studios the world over by many leading players including Keith Richards, Andy McKee and Tony McManus.
Greenfield guitars are built one at a time in a state of the art workshop in Montreal QC from the finest tone woods available including Macassar Ebony, Ziricote, Cocobolo, Amazon Rosewood and Koa for the back and sides and moon-harvested Alpine Spruce for the soundboards. Fit and finish are second to none and each guitar is individually voiced to ensure the most musical and versatile tonal spectrum possible.
Michael Greenfield is acknowledged to be an authority on the fan-frets and his guitars are available in several different multi-scale designs. He also pushes the boundaries with his ergonomic approach to the guitar incorporating bevels for the forearm, ribs and palm of the player.
William "Grit" Laskin
Topic: Making a Living as a Luthier; The Joys and Challenges of an Artisanal Life
William"Grit" Laskin is an internationally celebrated Canadian luthier, particularly notable for his high-quality instruments, acoustic guitar innovations (such as the "Laskin Armrest" and "Ribrest") and for his skill in the art of inlay.
The Art Of Inlay describes Laskin as "one of the most astonishing inlay artists in North America." His guitars have been exhibited as works of art in many museums. Grit is the author and subject of many books including A Guitarmaker's Canvas: The Inlay Art of Grit Laskin.
Linda Manzer has been designing and building world-class flattop and archtop acoustic guitars since 1974. She studied with master luthiers Jean Claude Larrivée and the late James D'Aquisto. Linda is credited with many cutting-edge innovations including, in 1984, the "Wedge", an ergonomic tapered guitar body shape originally designed for the renowned 42-stringed Pikasso Guitar. Many discerning musicians play her instruments, including Bruce Cockburn, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, and Julian Lage.
Her guitars have been displayed in the Smithsonian, Washington D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Canada.
Linda Manzer's Roundtable sponsored by
Topic: Sustainable and responsible materials for an eco-friendly future
After 20 years as a professional Luthier, making custom instruments and working as a “ghost builder” for many other Luthiers and guitar brand owners throughout Europe, Dan MacPherson decided it was time to launch his own range of guitars. Introduced as ‘MacPherson Guitars’ in 2010 these instruments underline Dan’s reputation for producing optimum, high-quality, hand-made instruments.