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Gallery: 2016 Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration

Showcasing hundreds of drool-worthy, handcrafted instruments, a new U.S. guitar show makes its successful debut.


Zimnicki Guitars

Gary Zimnicki builds his instruments in Allen Park, Michigan. “My workshop is located in close proximity to the birthplace of the assembly line,” he says. “While Henry Ford may have managed to change the world through mass production, I value the personal touch and unparalleled quality of handcrafted manufacturing.” This 18" archtop oozes classic Gretsch style, but with several key differences. For one thing, Zimnicki used no laminates, but instead carved the top and back by hand. The spruce soundboard is repurposed from a long-retired Alaskan logging boat.

The inaugural Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration was held September 29 to October 2 in sunny coastal California. The event brought hundreds of top luthiers and players who displayed their craftsmanship, gave seminars, and held intimate concerts. The Earl Warren Showgrounds served as a fitting venue, as in decades past it hosted concerts from such acts as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, the Doors, Cream, the Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin.

The show pulled widely from Canada and Europe, with heavy representation from the U.S. West Coast. Also on sale were top-grade woods, inlay materials, and custom bindings. Luthiers were open with their time, and many fans enjoyed hearing builders talk shop. Among the visitors was Santa Barbara resident and guitar pickup guru, Seymour Duncan, who could be seen checking out all the beautiful instruments on display.