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LEFT: Ken Bonfield demonstrates Alan Carruth’s latest creation, a harp guitar with a separate soundboard for the bass strings. Carruth built it as part of a competition in which luthiers create instruments from materials that cost less than $100. alcarruthluthier.com
RIGHT: Tom Ribbecke’s fan-fret Halfling is so-named because it combines a bass side that’s flat like a steel-string acoustic with a treble side that’s carved like an archtop. ribbecke.com
The Cherry Seven guitars by (left to right): Randy Muth (rsmuthguitars.com), Joseph Hart (hartguitars.ca), Jeremy Anderson (legatolutherie.com), Marc Saumier (archtop, saumierguitars.com), Alan Carruth (alcarruthlithier.com), Marc Saumier (classical), and Joshua House (houseguitars.com).
In 2009, Marc Saumier, a Canadian luthier who builds guitars exclusively from woods he cuts in nearby forests in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, had a bold idea: invite a group of luthiers to each build an instrument using wood from the same trees. In addition to Saumier, five other luthiers took part in the project—Randy Muth, Joshua House, Alan Carruth, Jeremy Anderson, and Joseph Hart. These six builders created seven instruments (Saumier contributed two) from red spruce, black cherry, and Eastern hop hornbean that Saumier sawed himself and provided to his fellow builders. Because each guitar features a cherrywood back and sides, the endeavor quickly became known as the Cherry Seven Project.
Exhibited as a collection at this year’s show, the seven guitars attracted a lot of attention for their sonic appeal and visual beauty. Though the woods used in these acoustics came from the same logs, each guitar emerged from its respective workshop with a unique look and sound, proving it’s a luthier’s hands—not the materials he uses—that ultimately determines an instrument’s character.
With his Cherry Seven Project, Saumier wanted to prove a point. “I make my instruments entirely from local woods, including cherry, maple, butternut, red spruce, hornbean, poplar, basswood, blue beech, Eastern hemlock, Eastern white cedar, willow, and apple,” he said. “Though our native hardwoods are not as dense as some of the more exotic woods from the rain forests or Africa, it is certainly possible to make master-grade instruments from local materials.”
LEFT: C.P. Thornton’s HTL model honors the classic Fender Strat but features a 4.5-degree neck angle meant to make the 25"-scale guitar immediately comfortable for players used to a Les Paul. cpthorntonguitars.com
RIGHT: Edward Klein has developed a reputation for bringing head-turning designs to Montreal every year. This year he brought two guitars with metal sides that were bolted to the top and back. edwardkleinguitars.com