This weekend was my fifth time visiting the Woodstock Luthiers Invitational Guitar Showcase (That's a mouthful!) in Woodstock, NY.. The three day event is kicked off on a Thursday night with a guitar centric concert, followed by three days of vendor tables of guitars and guitar related products, as well as classes, presentations and performances by some of the leading lights of the acoustic guitar playing and building world.
The number of guitars and the prices can be overwhelming and intimidating to visitors, and many spend the bulk of their time at the show, listening to performances by luminary players, demonstrating the available guitars in days long concerts in the theater. From Cindy Cashdollar (great name!) to Macyn Taylor to Frank Vignola, the variety of styles seems endless! I like to wander from performances to vendors and down by the river (not in a van!) to take in the normally beautiful fall weather and foliage that coincides with the show.
I would say it's a difficult environment for choosing an instrument due to the crowdedness of the venue and the volume. But if you want to get serious, most sellers will find a way to get you into a quiet space.
I have not shown at this event as I feel it's not to my advantage to do so (it's expensive and very high end collector-ish! Prices run from the bottom end at $5000 to the top at $50,000 or much more!) and it isn't really what I am trying to do. Building guitars that someone buys to put on the wall or in the vault and impress people with is far less interesting than building guitars for players of normal means. I may build some expensive instruments, but putting my guitars out of the reach of practically everyone I know seems unappealing. And building a reputation that allows for that kind of pricing takes time if that is your goal.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a presentation by Canadian builder Linda Manzer, who collaborated with 7 other builders including her mentor Jean Larrrivee, on an art project. She and her colleagues built a guitar each celebrating the Canadian artist's known as the "Group Of Seven" from early in the 20th century.
The project was funded by a well known Canadian museum called The McMichael, where visitors can view the guitars and the paintings side by side. There is a video documentary available of the entire project, including performances on each of the guitars. I find her approach inspiring and have in mind to build some unusual and hopefully, artful guitars.
I ended my weekend (during which I stayed with my good Summersongs friend John Fisher; thanks John!) with a meal at Landau's in Woodstock. The guitar art on the walls is a great reminder that some guitars are made to be played and others are better for looking at! But seriously, don't hang your beloved instrument on the wall without proper humidity of at least 40% in your home in the winter. Your fine playing instrument can end up being a permanent fixture on non-playing display!
I am excited to work to build the most beautiful and great sounding guitars I can while trying to expand players' knowledge of what the possibilities are for different woods than the usual mahogany and rosewood! Those woods are becoming more scarce and restricted (for good reason!) and there are a lot of woods that people don't know about that make great guitars. Anyone who has played my Tasmanian Red Myrtle OM or my Peruvian Walnut dreadnought knows that there are other great options that offer a unique and beautiful alternative. I have many other such options, unlike anything you will see on the wall at Guitar Center, that are available for serious, long term relationships! Please contact me with any questions you might have.