The ASIA Symposium

Kinship and Connections
ASIA Symposium
(LEFT TO RIGHT) At Martin, George Molchany, Brian Pritchard, and Chris Eckhart do final setup for stars from Eric Clapton to Willie Nelson to John Mayer.
ASIA Symposium
1) Julius Borges with his OM-45 style, and Bryan Galloup with his G.2C. Both have Brazilian rosewood back and sides and German spruce tops. 2) Stroudsburg’s proximity to C.F. Martin’s facility in Nazareth means a tour is on many agendas. Frank Ford, head repairman at Gryphon Stringed Instruments, and Dan Erlewine got to look over several vintage Martins, from the first X-braced model, made in 1843, to a ’42 D-45 and a 1930 OM-45 Deluxe. 3) Seniors from Skaneateles High School, New York, took part in a course called Computer Integrated Manufacturing, a four-year sequence of engineering classes within Project Lead the Way. “I use instrument building within that class to get students interested in engineering because the instruments serve a bigger purpose,” said Mark Slauson, the school’s Engineering and Technology instructor. “Musical instruments have a great deal of engineering in them and they’re just plain cool. Students learn design, modeling, CNC programming, manufacturing concepts, and a bit about robotics. Kids have a good time and learn a great deal about engineering and automation.” Julius Borges and Skaneateles class: Photo by Bill Brown.

As much a celebration of kinship as it is an educational forum, the biannual Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA) Symposium, held at East Stroudsburg University, in Pennsylvania, is mini mecca for guitar builders and hobbyists ranging from novices to top professionals and manufacturers.

Held in alternating years with the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) meeting in Tacoma, Washington, the Symposium is four days and evenings of communal secret sharing, instrument show-and-tell, and conversations with those who provide wood, pearl, tools, bone, machines, and tools to the industry.

“These gatherings are a true come-as-you-are party; it does not matter if you’re a beginner or a pro, you will pick up tips and ways to make your work better and more efficient,” said Evan Gluck, New York Guitar Repair, who has been an ASIA member for 10 years. “For me, personally, the most useful thing is being reminded that there are folks who have the same struggles and issues as I do. Lutherie and repair is mostly a solitary profession, so simply knowing all these fine folks are in the same boat is comforting. The bottom line is, my wife doesn’t care which viscosity of super glue I use for a repair, but these people do. The feedback is priceless.”

“As a young luthier, I have benefited enormously by being a part of ASIA and the GAL,” said Matt Brooker, a Technical Advisor at Stewart-MacDonald and an ASIA member for two years. “I see lots of other 20-somethings building and doing repair work online, but our generation is sorely underrepresented at these events. I encourage all of you out there to join us at the next gathering; there are friendships and connections to be made, knowledge to be shared, and great times to be had.”


This article originally appeared in VG October 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.