The Vancouver International Guitar Festival bestows the lifetime achievement awards to Vancouver’s own Dave Dunwoodie, Founder and Head Honcho of Graph Tech Guitar Labs. Graph Tech, located in Delta, BC invents, designs, and manufactures guitar and ukulele components to manufacturers, distributors, and musicians in 42 countries and will be celebrating 40 years of innovations in 2023.
Here’s a bit of the history direct from GT’s Head Honcho.
“I started gigging when I was 17 straight out of high school, playing guitar in bands ranging from Rock, 50’s and 60’s, R&B, Funk, Motown and even a Hawaiian/Funk bank. I played at night and started working at a local guitar shop during the day, then moved onto refinishing guitars for music stores in western Canada. That eventually led to importing and distributing guitar parts and components to music stores across Canada. As I was still playing and doing guitar refinishing and guitar hardware distribution, it’s hard not to come up with your own ideas on product improvements for the guitar. My first project was to make self-lubricating nut. When strings stick in the nut when you are bending strings or using your tremolo bridge, you go out of tune…. I thought this should be a gimme… it wasn’t. I made my first silicone mould in the lid of a mayonnaise jar, with some graphite powder and epoxy… that didn’t work out so good (too brittle).. but it got me started on the road of engineering, product design and marketing.”
“Eventually I came out with the first self-lubricating nut. My entire line of products in the first year was two blank nuts and a string retainer… but I was on my way.”
“It’s not easy inventing products for guitar that really work as promised, as you can’t color too far outside the lines… a guitar still has to look like a guitar… the acoustic guitar hasn’t changed its look too much for the last 300 years and the two most popular designs for electric guitars are from the 1950’s. We focus on breaking new ground in performance with products really do have to do what we say they will do yet respect the tradition and history of the instruments. From reducing string breakage by 90%, increasing harmonics (richness in the tone), improving tuning stability or just making it easier to tune up and stay in tune.”
Today, Graph Tech has over 50 patents and trademarks world-wide, and has become the largest nut and saddle manufacturer in the world, supplying large and small guitar and ukulele manufacturers in 42 countries. Their most recent patent is for a new ukulele machine head. Ukulele’s are small bodied, use nylon strings and have a very short scale, so they require a specific gear ratio to tune the strings easily, and standard guitar machine heads are way too heavy for such a little instrument. Graph Tech’s Tune-a-lele machine heads use a uke friendly gear ratio of 6:1, and is also the world’s lightest machine head, weighing in at 5 grams each (about the same weight as a sheet of computer paper.) and has zero backlash and zero backdrive. So, the ukulele is balanced and is easy to tune and stay in tune. They are now being used by Martin Guitars, Kala Ukuleles, Ortega Ukuleles and many more.
Our TUSQ man-made Ivory nuts and saddles are made from 100% organic polymers and use no petroleum-based or animal-based product and, over the years, have replaced the equivalent of 5,000 real elephant tusks used for nuts and saddles.
Graph Tech’s team of 35, including his daughters Theresa and Tarina, produce over 1,200 different styles of nuts, saddles, and bridge pins in various materials. It’s product lines include TUSQ man-made Ivory, TUSQ XL, Black TUSQ XL, String Saver Saddles, Resomax electric guitar bridges, TUSQ picks, Dry n’ Glide handcare, TUSQ Picks, the Ghost modular pickup system and Ratio mutli-geared machine heads. They supply guitar and ukulele manufacturers around the world, including Fender, Gibson, Taylor, Martin, Godin, Breedlove, Yamaha, Epiphone, Kala, Lanikai, Mahalo and so many more…. Their sole mission is to “improve the playing experience!”
Dave Dunwoodie is passionate about guitar playing, the guitar industry, product development, design, and marketing and has been featured on BNN, BCTV, City TV, and written about in the Vancouver Province, the Globe and Mail, Business in Vancouver, the Surrey Leader, Music Trades Magazine, and the Music and Sound retailer talking about the guitar market, manufacturing, marketing and exporting. He is available for interviews via phone, zoom, etc.
About Graph Tech Guitar Labs
Founded on his kitchen table in 1983 by President Dave Dunwoodie, Graph Tech Guitar Labs now manufactures more guitar nuts and saddles than any other company in the world. Focused on innovations to improve guitar tone and vibration for optimal performance, Graph Tech is the maker of TUSQ® and Black TUSQ® and TUSQ XL, man-made ivory, Ratio® Tuned Machine Heads, String Saver® saddles, ResoMax® Harmonic Bridge System and ghost® Modular Pickup Systems, for musicians and harmonically-rich TUSQ Picks. The world’s leading retailers, luthiers, and guitar manufacturers choose Graph Tech products including: Epiphone, Fender, Gibson, Godin, Guild, Ibanez, Kala, Kamaka, Lanikai, Martin, Schecter, Taylor the Yamaha Custom Shop and many more around the world.