The Vancouver International Guitar Festival, June 23-25 is proud to present its inaugural Luthier Industry Builder Award to Jean-Claude Larrivée, Friday June 23 at the Luthier Conference. The award is presented on the 50th Anniversary of Larrivée Guitars in honour of his significant and lasting contribution to the evolution of the guitar building industry. Special tributes from John Larrivee’s proteges include Linda Manzer, David Iannone, Grit Laskin and Sergie De Yonge. 

It’s fitting that the award ceremony take place in British Columbia, the province where Jean launched his company to the international market. Larrivée manufactured guitars in BC from 1977-2013. Since 1967, Jean Larrivée has been building some of the finest guitars in the world. His legendary craftsmanship can be found on every instrument that bears his name. Jean's deep passion and lifetime of experience continues to inspire and inform a new generation of talented guitars makers.

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.



The Vancouver International Guitar Festival, June 23-25, is honoured to have legendary blues guitarist Jim Byrnes host the opening day Luthier Conference. The Luthier Conference on June 23 is the only event of its kind in Vancouver where professional luthiers and guitar enthusiasts can network and connect with legendary guitar makers and industry leaders. The highlights of the conference include keynote speakers, seminars, roundtable discussions, a social mixer and presentation of the VIGF Industry Builder Award to Jean Larrivee on the occasion of his company’s 50th anniversary. 

Jim Byrnes was born in St. Louis, Missouri – that’s blues country. By age thirteen, Jim was singing and playing blues guitar. His first professional gig was in 1964. Over the years, he has had the great good fortune to appear with a virtual who’s who of the blues. From Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker to Taj Mahal and Robert Cray, Jim has been on the blues highway for 45 years.

Byrnes moved to Vancouver, BC in the mid-70s after years of drifting, working odd jobs and playing music. In 1981 he put together a band that became a staple of the local music scene. In 1986 the Jim Byrnes Band played 300 nights. Jim Byrnes’ fame as an actor has grown immeasurably from his too-numerous-to-mention TV and movie roles, highlights including television’s Wiseguy and Highlander series, and his national variety show The Jim Byrnes Show.

Jim has produced five outstanding albums in the last 10 years since he hooked up with Steve Dawson, one of North America’s most critically acclaimed roots music producers. 2004’s Fresh Horses and 2006’s gospel tinged Juno Award winning House of Refuge set standards that aren’t often equaled. Jim Byrnes plays 150 dates a year in North America and Europe. He will continue to bring his music to stages all over the world.  

Recent Accolades:

2014 Maple Blues Awards (Best Male Vocalist — I Hear The Wind in the Wires)
2011 Juno winner (Blues Album of the Year — Everywhere West)
2011 Western Canadian Music Awards nominee (Blues Album of the Year - Everywhere West)
2010 Western Canadian Music Awards Winner (Blues Album of the Year — My Walking Stick)
2006 Juno Award winner (Blues Album of the Year — House of Refuge)
2006 Canadian Folk Music Award winner (Best Contemporary Singer — House of Refuge)
2006 Canadian Folk Music Award winner (Producer / Steve Dawson — House of Refuge)
2006 Maple Blues Awards 2-time winner (Recording of the Year — House of Refuge)
2006 Maple Blues Awards 2-time winner (Best Male Vocalist — House of Refuge)


VIGF To Display Guitars Featuring First Nations Art

Thanks to Vancouver’s Spirit Wrestler Gallery, the Vancouver International Guitar Festival will be exhibiting two very special guitars featuring B.C. First Nations art.

The guitars are currently on display at Vancouver International Airport, and thanks to Spirit Wrestler Gallery's Gary Wyatt, you can see them at the Vancouver International Guitar Festival, June 24-25.

"Formline Rhythm" Paragon Guitar

Shawn Hunt (1975- )

Medium: rosewood, cedar, maple
Size: 40.5 x 16 x 5 inches
Price: $ 10,750.00 CAD

Haida Gwaii Guitar

Haida Gwaii Guitars 

Medium: rosewood, spruce, ebony, abalone
Size: 40.5 x 16 x 5 inches


Over 80 Master Luthiers at the Vancouver International Guitar Festival Exhibition

Master luthiers and guitar enthusiasts from around the world will descend on Vancouver June 24 for the opening of the Vancouver International Guitar Festival Exhibition, a celebration of the art and craft of contemporary guitar building. 

Located at the Chinese Cultural Centre Event Hall in downtown Vancouver, this inaugural event is the only one of its kind in Canada. It is an interactive experience merging exhibitions, master classes, live performances and demonstrations by renowned and emerging guitar makers. Exhibiting at the two-day event will be more than 80 master luthiers displaying their collections of electrics, acoustics, basses and ukuleles for purchase as well as offering their services by commission. A select group of vendors will display specialized tone woods and custom parts. 

A series of Master Classes will be a highlight of the VIGF exhibition, bringing together legends of the industry to offer expert tips and inspiration on topics including guitar-making technology, marketing and performance techniques. The lineup includes: celebrated luthier Grit Laskin; father of the Canadian guitar industry Jean Larrivee; master luthier Bruce Sexauer; and consummate musicians Don Alder, Shaun Verreault, Jim Campilongo, Itamar Erez and Paul Pigat. 

William “Grit” Laskin will conduct two master classes, June 24: “Welcome to Grit Laskin’s World! How Does a Guitar Maker Get Music Out of a Wooden Box;” and June 25: “The Stories Behind Groundbreaking Inlay Art: The 2017 Group Of Seven Project.” 

Jean Larrivee, recipient of the 2017 VIGF Industry Builder Award, offers a master class on June 24: “Larrivee Guitars: My 50-Year Journey.” Since 1967, Larrivée has been building some of the finest guitars in the world. His legendary craftsmanship can be found on every instrument that bears his name. His deep passion and lifetime of experience continues to inspire and inform a new generation of talented guitars makers. 

Veteran luthier Bruce Sexauer’s master class is a must for anyone interested in tuning up their technical knowledge. Sexauer, a luthier for almost half a century, will discuss “Guitar Duality: How the modern guitar is different than the traditional guitar (and why it matters).” The class focuses on the differences between the traditional "living" guitar and the modern soundboard isolated from its support structure. 

You don’t want to miss the live demonstrations with acclaimed Vancouver musicians David Martone, Don Alder, Shaun Verreault, Itamar Erez and Paul Pigat. These dynamic artists offer unique performance styles mixing rock, blues, jazz, fingerstyle, classical, flamenco to suitably showcase the amazing collection of instruments on display at VIGF. 



We are proud to welcome Andy Powers, Master Luthier at Taylor Guitars, to present a keynote address at the VIGF Inaugural Luthier Conference on Friday morning, June 23.

“Last Man Sanding: My Journey from Independent Luthier to Taylor Guitars” is Andy Powers’ inspirational speech that will kick off the full-day conference for industry professionals and aficionados. Powers is the creative force at the helm of America’s leading manufacturer of acoustic and electric guitars, with international distribution to 60 countries.

On the company’s 35th anniversary, founder Bob Taylor recounted his search for the right person to carry the business forward: “I need a guitar maker who’s a better builder than I am, a pro player, is self taught, has 20 years of experience, is in his 30s, and can make a lifetime commitment.” A chain of events led Taylor to spend an afternoon with an extraordinarily talented builder and guitarist in the San Diego area named Andy Powers.

Says Powers: “I’m fortunate to partake in this creative process every day and savor the endeavor. I still love to sharpen my tools and watch shavings and sawdust pile up on my workbench. I still adore the shape of a beautiful guitar and the feel of new strings under my fingers.”

Photo from Guitar Player Magazine

Photo from Guitar Player Magazine

Check out this fantastic profile of Andy's move to Taylor by Guitar Player Magazine:


Sandy Fleischer.jpg

We are proud to welcome internationally renowned digital marketer Sandy Fleischer to give a keynote address at the VIGV Inaugural Luthier Conference on Friday afternoon, June 23.

Sandy, managing partner at Vancouver-based Pound & Grain, will present “Social Media and E-Commerce for Luthiers.”  An inspirational and highly entertaining speaker, Sandy will explore new opportunities in peer-to-peer engagement, monetization and creative discovery on a global scale for luthiers, suppliers and dealers. He will share techniques for turning fans, followers and friends into paying customers.

In two decades of digital agency experience, Sandy has presented at high profile events such as SXSW, Adobe Max, and the Society of Digital Agencies' SoDA Speaks. He contributes regularly to Strategy Magazine and is a former board member at DigiBC, the association for digital media professionals in BC. 

At Pound & Grain, he is the force behind award-winning campaigns for clients including SAP, TELUS, Electronic Arts, The CFL, Arc'Teryx and MEC. In his secret other life, Sandy is known as DJ Pescatore, and has played to crowds across Canada, the US and Italy.

VIGF LUTHIER Conference announces GRIT LASKIN, LINDA MANZER and MICHAEL GREENFIELD will host one hour “Meet the Maker” roundtable sessions

The Vancouver International Guitar Festival Luthier Conference announces that master builders GRIT LASKIN, LINDA MANZER and MICHAEL GREENFIELD will host “Meet the Maker” roundtable sessions as part of its June 23 programming.

Conference registration takes place at: 

More information on the conference can be found here:

Paid conference registrants are welcome to reserve a seat at by emailing Tables accommodate just 10 people. The hosts will answer questions about their career, designs, techniques and aspirations.







MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT: Vancouver International Guitar Festival

JUNE 23-25, 2017

Vancouver, B.C. (January 17, 2017) Guitar builders, players, collectors and aficionados will gather in Vancouver June 23-25 for the first Vancouver International Guitar Festival (VIGF). The only festival of its kind in Canada, VIGF comprises three days of live music, master classes and special events during which thepublic will have opportunities to see, hear, play and purchase some of the world’s finest handmade stringed instruments. The festival will take place in the heart of Vancouver at the historic Chinese Cultural Centre.

  • June 23: Canada’s first Luthier Conference, including presentation of the Industry Builder Award to Jean Larrivee.
  • June 24-25: Open to the public, the Guitar Exhibition including instrument demonstrations, master classes and more.

The opening day Conference is a ticketed event for professional luthiers and guitar enthusiasts, with opportunities to meet legendary guitar makers and to network with industry leaders. The full day’s program includes keynote speakers, seminars, roundtable discussions, a social mixer and presentation of the VIGF Industry Builder Award to Jean Larrivee on the occasion of his company’s 50th anniversary.

The two-day Exhibition celebrates the art and craft of contemporary guitar making, acoustic and electric. More than 80 master luthiers from Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia will be on site for one-on-one discussions and demonstrations. All instruments on display (acoustic, electric, ukuleles and basses) will be available for purchase;  commissions welcome.

Festival co-producers Shaw Saltzberg and Meredith Coloma bring decades of expertise to the VIGF team. Saltzberg spent 30 years shaping the live careers of Michael Bublé, Diana Krall, Bryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan and more as Senior Vice-President of The Feldman Agency. “Writing, recording and performing live music takes talent, creativity and hard work,” says Saltzberg, “and these same qualities are present in the work of VIGF’s master luthiers. Artists working at the highest level possible.”

Coloma is one of the leading next-generation guitar builders in North America. She studied in New York with renowned electric builder Roger Sadowsky and apprenticed with master acoustic builder Michael Dunn in Vancouver. “The festival fills a void in Canada that created when the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal ended its Guitar Show in 2013,” says Coloma.. “Luthiers from around the world loved visiting Canada and VIGF now provides a world-renowned destination in which to exhibit their artistry.”

Tickets are on sale now. Purchase and registration take place at

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