This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Custom Instruments

1. William Laskin – Custom Guitar Maker

William “Grit” Laskin has been building custom guitars since 1971. He the originator of many innovations in guitar history. One thing that he specializes in now is custom art inlaid in guitars. He also authored The Guitarmaker’s Canvas, published in 2003, which documents his experiences and knowledge.

William “Grit” Laskin wears many hats. His primary one is that of guitarmaker, a profession he has pursued since 1971. His steel-string, classical and flamenco guitars are known and coveted around the world. Players of his instruments include: k.d.lang, Ben Mink, Rik Emmett, Tom Cochrane, Jesse Cook, Wayne Johnson, Tom Chapin, Garnet Rogers, Stan Rogers, Ottmar Liebert, Christine Lavin, Ken Whiteley, Cathy Fink,& Marcy Marxer, James Keelaghan, Kobukuro (Japan). Commissions from guitarmaker colleagues and others within the trade include: Bill Collings (Collings Guitars, Texas), Roger Sadowsky (Sadowsky Guitars, New York), Dick Boak (director, Martin Guitars, PA), Bill Kaman (Kaman Industries—Ovation Guitars), Larry Sifel (pres., Pearlworks, MD), Chuck Erickson (the Duke Of Pearl). The Museum Of Civilization, Canada’s equivalent to the Smithsonian, has four Laskin guitars in its permanent collection.

In 1997, He received Canada’s prestigious Saidye Bronfman Award For Excellence, the first and only instrument maker to be so honoured. He is also an elected fellow of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, and included both in the University Of Toronto’s “Who’s Who In Canada” as well as the Encyclopedia of Music In Canada. Most recently he received the Estelle Klein (lifetime achievement) Award, from the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals.

In addition to building the instruments, Laskin uses them as “canvases” for his engraved inlay art. He is now internationally acknowledged as having single-handedly taken the tradition of musical instrument decoration beyond the purely decorative. For Laskin, the inlay medium has become a tool for communication, not merely embellishment.


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