New Builder Profile: Sam Guidry

Paul attended two shows last year, the Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration and the Woodstock Invitational Luthier’s Showcase, and there he met a number of new builders with some truly awe-inspiring builds. Naturally, we took several of them on as new builders for Dream Guitars! Alongside Michel Pellerin and Loïc Bortot (of Bouchereau Guitars), we’re also proud to have added American builder Sam Guidry to our ranks! We have one of his big-voiced Jumbos in the shop right now, which you can find on out site here: http://www.dreamguitars.com/detail/5400-guidry_sg2_2016/. In addition, we’d like to share his responses in a brief interview we conducted with Sam earlier this year.

One last thing! We recently hosted absurdly virtuosic guitarist and composer Clive Carroll at Dream for some video performances, and Clive recorded an original composition, “The Prince’s Waltz,” on Sam’s SG-2. You can find that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUYXHmQUXhY. Clive was kind enough to offer us a copy of the TAB as well, which you can find here: http://www.dreamguitars.com/tab/The_Princes_Waltz.pdf. Enjoy!

What or who inspired you to begin building guitars?

In high school I was on the college prep course with all the intention of going to university and becoming a “normal” person. Shortly after graduation, one of my best friends was killed in a car accident which sent me into an existential depression. I didn’t want to go to college, I didn’t want to get off the couch! After about two months of that routine, my mother found Bryan Galloup’s luthiery school on this thing called “the internet” (it was 1998 by the way) and she wouldn’t let me waste away on the couch, so my parents shipped me off to learn luthiery. My goal was to learn to do a good set up and then return back home and work in a music store. Then I made my first acoustic guitar. Even though I was not an acoustic guitar player, the experience changed me. I knew that I had found my calling.

2016 Sam Guidry SG-2 Birdseye Maple & Engelmann Spruce

 

What builders inspire you today?

I try not to be too influenced by any one maker, but for inspiration I often turn to Michihiro Matsuda. He gave a talk at a Northwoods Seminar at our shop which centered around the idea of taking ideas and growing them; at least that’s what I took away from it. To think that the guitar doesn’t have to be anything really makes you free as a designer. I do not do the kind of work he is known for, but in my own way, I am trying to always be thinking and moving forward.

Please describe your goals in voicing an instrument. How did you first find your voice, and how do you continue to experiment?

My goal in voicing an instrument is to make an instrument that responds quickly, with clarity and balance. My method is different from most as I take a scientific approach that begins with rigorous material testing and leads up though precise tuning of body resonances. This approach was developed between Bryan Galloup and I over the last 15 years that we have worked together. We started researching how to control our voicing because we would build two guitars with the same materials and they would sound different. Over the years we would build and test, and build and test some more, each time learning a little more of the secrets the guitar holds. All of this research led to a voicing method that gives me a high level of control over the voice of the instrument. There is always more to learn, and currently I am studying the effects of higher order modes of vibration of the perception of tone.

Birdseye Maple Headstock with Ebony Inlay

 

Where do you think your building style will take you in the next five years?

I have been trending towards a minimalist style lately. I used to be obsessed with purfling, but I have been paring that away and looking for new ways to embellish my instruments. I will probably continue that trend for a while, but who knows when inspiration will strike!

Any interesting facts about your building process or shop arrangement?

I have a unique shop arrangement as I am the senior instructor at the Galloup School of Guitar Building and Repair. Firstly, this gives me access to a world class shop many folks would be envious of. Secondly, as a teacher it forces me to understand each process to the nth degree so I can explain what is happening to my students. This arrangement also gives me the time and incentive to develop new, more effective techniques to push the art of lutherie forward.

2016 Sam Guidry SG-2 in Birdseye Maple & Engelmann Spruce

 

What was your favorite, or your first, instrument that you ever played?

I have always been a guitar man. I received my first guitar for Christmas in 1994 (an Ibanez Iceman) and I have never looked back.

What do you enjoy doing outside of building instruments?

Aside from building guitars, I have two beautiful daughters, 10 and 1 ½ years respectively, that keep me busy outside of the shop.

If you had not become a guitar maker, where do you think life would have led you?

My path to becoming a guitar maker has been almost accidental, seeming to be in the right place at the right time at key junctures in my life but if I wasn’t a luthier, I would probably work in retail, maybe a chapeau shop like “what size are you, sir, 11?”

What music are you listening to right now?

I used to be a big jam band fan but lately I have been getting into progressive metal. I really like a band from the UK called Haken and I am getting into the band Animals as Leaders lately as well.

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