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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Mary Ann Merker, Civic Arts Coordinator, (510) 981-7533

Hand Making Stringed Instruments

Berkeley, California (Monday, November 28, 2005) - Bay Area musical instrument makers, members of the Northern California Association of Luthiers, will exhibit traditional guitar and ukulele making at the Addison Street Windows Gallery from December 1 through January 15, 2006. An exhibit demonstrating the hand making of stringed instruments can be seen at a reception planned for         December 4, 3 p.m., weather permitting, on Addison Street in front of the Windows. The reception and exhibition are free and wheelchair accessible; the exhibition can be viewed 24 hours a day in the windows gallery.

This exhibition shows the work of Bay Area Luthiers working on a small and personal scale: from raw materials to parts-making and assembly processes, to finished instruments; all done with fairly low-tech tools. It's a rare opportunity to see a display of how musical instruments are made, and learn something about these interesting craftspeople.

American Lutherie, the hand making of stringed instruments, did not come into being before the late 1960s. Before then, all guitars were produced in factories. In Europe, instrument making is a centuries-old craft. Today there are two national American organizations, each with some 2,000 members, who view instrument building as anywhere between a hobby to a serious livelihood. As witnessed by a spate of recent glossy coffee-table books about guitars of the rich and famous, the hand made guitar has "arrived."

The acoustic guitar is a genuine American cultural icon, with its own mystique and socio-ethical place in American culture. The electric guitar is sometimes associated with the rebel and the outsider, but the acoustic guitar, in American culture, is usually in the hands of the hero, the noble honest working man, and the defender of social justice.

The Addison Street Windows Gallery is across the street from the Berkeley Repertory and Aurora Theaters. The exhibition is viewed from the sidewalk on Addison Street, it's free, and wheelchair accessible. The Windows Gallery is a project of the Civic Arts Program of the City of Berkeley in cooperation with the Civic Arts Commission.



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