My dad and I just got back from Charleston, South Carolina where we attended the Guitar Foundation of America Convention and Competition. This event was held from June 26 through July 1, 2012. It is arguably the premier event of the year with regard to classical guitar competition, master classes, seminars and concerts.
I decided months ago that I would build three concert classical guitars with all the features that I offer and show them at this event. One is a spruce guitar with Indian rosewood back and sides. The other two are cedar guitars, one with Indian rosewood back and sides and the other with cocobolo back and sides. I finished these amazing guitars about four weeks ago (which we have dubbed the Three Sisters!) and we took them along with two other guitars to Charleston to show at the GFA convention.
We left Weatherford, TX on Sunday June 24 and drove through East Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, finally arriving in Charleston, South Carolina in the early afternoon of Tuesday June 26. Along the way we spent the night in Jackson, MS and Augusta, GA. Tropical storm Debbie flanked us on the right all the way and was headed toward Charleston. The weather bureaus were predicting the worst but by our arrival on Tuesday it had weakened to just a simple rain storm which was quite refreshing after a dry spring time in Texas.
Showing the Latest Wood Ring Guitars at the Convention
After we checked into the Francis Marion hotel, which was the official hotel of the GFA conference, we headed over to the College of Charleston to register and set up our booth. Over the next five days we showed our guitars to over one hundred and fifty people. Among them were finalists in the competition, professional players, advanced, intermediate, and beginning students, and several folks who simply love the classical guitar. Overall some of the best classical guitarists in the world played our guitars. All had extremely positive feedback about the three guitars. I took the time with each guitarist to not only listen to them play the instruments but to answer their questions and find out what they are looking for in terms of sound and what features they like in a classical guitar. The overall positive reception we received confirmed our own feelings that these guitars are among the best concert classical guitars available, especially in the price range we have established for them.
The Luthier's Showcase
On Saturday, June 30, we entered the spruce guitar in the Luthiers Showcase. Each luthier at the show was invited to enter one guitar in the showcase. There were approximately 35 entries. During the showcase two talented guitarists each played a passage no longer than 90 seconds on each guitar. The guitar played and its luthier/dealer remained anonymous during the Showcase, and all comments were withheld until after all instruments had been heard. My opinion that the guitar we entered not only held its own but was one of the better sounding guitars was confirmed over and over again by guests who attended the showcase and took notes and visited our booth afterward. It confirmed what I have been hoping for since I became a luthier. That I can build a world class classical guitar that stands head to head with guitars made by some of the world's best luthiers. Please check out the video I have added to this article to hear the showcase players play the spruce guitar we entered. This video was shot with an iPhone. It was not optimal recording conditions but you can see and hear my latest spruce guitar being played by these excellent guitarists.
Soaking in the Culture!
Although we spent seven hours each day showing guitars, we did take some time to take in the culture of the city of Charleston. We took one afternoon to walk from the hotel down through the heart of the city to the ocean. What a beautiful way to spend the afternoon and early evening! In the evenings we attended the GFA classical guitar concerts. All of the concerts were superb. It is difficult to select the best among the concerts, but the Bandini/Chiachiaretta Duo concert which was held on Wednesday night and the Roland Dyens concert which was held on Saturday night were absolutely amazing. Both Mr. Bandini and Mr. Dyens were kind enough to come by the booth the day after their respective concerts which was a great honor for us as well.
Heading Back Home - Thoughts on the GFA Convention
When Sunday July 1 arrived, after showing for several hours in the morning, we packed up and headed back to Texas. This is our second GFA Convention in three years and again it exceeded our expectations, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the music and art of the classical guitar for an entire week. We made some new friends, met up and enjoyed the company of old friends and as of this writing are under discussions to put some Wood Ring guitars into some very gifted hands. What more could you ask?