Meander Valley Gazette

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Lutherie legends and learners

Arts and ReviewsJoanne EisemannComment


THE DELORAINE lutherie held its annual gig at the Empire Hotel from the 16th to 26th January.

Tim Spittle and Kevin Lincoln hosted a workshop to enable students to make ukeleles and guitars for the sixth successive year; a project which started at Highfield in Stanley and graduated to Deloraine three years ago.

Antonia Howarth-Wass, a return student who completed a tenor ukelele in 2017, together with Brian Nolan and Susan Lacey enjoyed increased familiarity with equipment and materials, the result of hard-won prior experience when they struggled to complete instruments to the high standards demanded by Tim and Kevin.

This year, it was a baritone ukelele for Antonia. Brian attempted a mandolin, a shaped instrument demanding more skill. He made a Segovia guitar last year using Rosewood, European spruce and materials similar to its namesake which is now on exhibition in a New York museum. The sound is amazing, quite different from modern classical guitars which, Brian says, tend to be heavier, possibly more resilient, but different in tone quality.

Susan has made two tenor ukeleles, but this year it was a smaller soprano instrument with her own special decoration.

“There is pleasure in making music and even more in the creation of instruments” says Antonia. “It is a steep learning curve for someone who has not used woodworking tools and is unfamiliar with workshops, but more and more enthusiasts are passing through these classes and moving on to others.”

Tim Spittle travels from Western Australia each year, sharing skills and sourcing a wide range of fine craft timbers some of which are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

Kevin and wife Francis are well known to locals as leaders of uke groups on the north coast.

The Empire Hotel provides the workshop space and accommodation.

Photo | Mike Moores