The VIGF Luthier Conference is designed for professional luthiers, active hobbyists, and anyone who wants a deeper look at the fascinating world of handcrafted musical instruments.

You will have opportunities to meet face-to-face with the legends of the industry and mingle with your peers in a relaxed but professional setting. You’ll meet the pioneers of modern luthiery and the next generation of forward-thinkers who are shaping the future of the industry. Our one-day program encompasses two keynote speakers, 10 roundtable breakout sessions, and our first VIGF Industry Award presentation.

Conference Schedule

Meet Our Speakers

KEYNOTES

ANDY POWERS, MASTER GUITAR DESIGNER, TAYLOR GUITARS
"LAST MAN SANDING: My Journey from Indie LUTHIER to Taylor GUITARS"

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.”

A native of Oceanside, California, Powers began his woodworking journey early in life. The son of a carpenter and his artist wife, Powers had his first workbench as a boy, and shortly thereafter began playing piano and guitar. In a house where musical instruments, tools and wood were always readily available, curiosity got the best of him: his first attempts at building guitars came before the age of 10. As Powers’ designs quickly improved, his hobby grew into a passion, and he began selling his instruments to customers while he was still a teenager. Encouraged by his parents to pursue the arts, he began to explore the world of traditional inlaid art, using his instruments as a canvas.

Prior to joining Taylor, Powers was the proprietor of Andy Powers Instruments in Oceanside, and his diverse instrument-making repertoire included flattop, archtop and electric guitars, along with ukuleles. His reputation for superb craftsmanship helped him build an impressive client list of local and international musicians, and his work is highly respected by fellow luthiers. 

Powers graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in music with a guitar performance emphasis.

SANDY FLEISCHER, Managing PARTNER, POUND & GRAIN
"social media and e-commerce for luthiers"

Sandy brings two decades of digital agency experience to Pound & Grain. Recognized as an industry leader, he's presented at high profile events such as SXSW, Adobe Max, and the Society of Digital Agencies' SoDA Speaks. Sandy contributes regularly to Strategy Magazine and is a former board member at DigiBC, the industry association for digital media in BC. 

At Pound & Grain, he’s led engagements with SAP, TELUS, Electronic Arts, The CFL, Arc'Teryx, MEC, and others. In his secret other life, Sandy is known as DJ Pescatore, and has played to crowds across Canada, the US and Italy.

MEET THE MAKER roundtables

GRIT LASKIN

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.

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.

LINDA MANZER

Linda Manzer has been designing and building world-class flattop and archtop acoustic guitars since 1974. She studied with master luthiers Jean Claude Larrivee 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.

MICHAEL GREENFIELD

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.

SEMINAR

DAVE DUNWOODIE, PRESIDENT, GRAPH TECH GUITAR LABS
"FROM MY KITCHEN TABLE TO YOUR GUITAR: PRODUCT INNOVATION AT GRAPH TECH GUITAR LABS"

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.  

The result is an outstanding reputation for quality and rapid acceptance by guitar players.  Dave's commitment has never waned: "I envisioned a people-and service-orientated company that can turn on a dime and respond to our customers' needs."  The successful introduction of totally new concepts (as opposed to "copy cat" products) into the guitar market have led to Graph Tech's booming success. Graph Tech products are factory installed worldwide on Carvin®, Furch®, Gibson®, Godin®, Guild®,Larrivee®, Martin®, Raimundo®, Schecter®, Taylor®, Tom Anderson®, Warmoth®, Washburn®, Yamaha®, and many others. 

2017 LUTHIER INDUSTRY BUILDER AWARD

VIGF is proud to present its inaugural Luthier Industry Builder Award to Jean Larrivée, in honour of his significant and lasting contribution to the evolution of the guitar building industry

The award is presented on the 50th Anniversary of Larrivée Guitars. 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. 

History: http://www.larrivee.com/about-larrivee

A family affair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orewKbjFYGg

The future of his company according to Jean Larrivee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7jlywAalOg


POST-CONFERENCE MIXER

THE EMERALD SUPPER CLUB AND COCKTAIL LOUNGE
555 GORE AVE, VANCOUVER, BC  

Once the conference ends, you're invited to head over to The Emerald for some libations, socializing, and perhaps even some impromptu jamming!

For dinner reservations, call (604) 559-8477 or complete the request form on the Emerald's website.