GFA, Heinsberg, Koblenz Summer Festival Season Recap

I was on the road for almost six weeks straight attending summer festivals and taking some vacation. It was a ton of fun, but I’m happy to be back home in Graz and getting back to work in the shop once I can recover from the jet-lag and a cold we all caught at the end. Here’s a bit of a recap.


I’ll start with this since it’s freshest in my memory. I was admittedly bad about taking photos during the whole thing. The first ten photos are reposts from the GFA facebook site; I didn’t take them, but they are only from events that I attended. Apart from the weather in Miami feeling like a punch in the face, the festival was wonderful. This year’s guitar comparison was performed by Raphael Feuillatre and Xavier Jara. Their playing was perfect and the hall was particularly well suited to such an event.

I was unfortunately unable attend most of the afternoon concerts because I was back at the hotel with my one-year-old daughter :), but the evening concerts were all beautifully played. It was otherwise, great to catch up with some old guitar builder friends, players and competitors, as well as to make many new friends that I hope to keep in touch with at future festivals in the years to come. One thing that was strange, but interesting was that I kept ending up in sub-groups of German speakers. A big congrats to all the competitors and especially my two friends Michael Butten and Dmytro Olmechak, who I’ve gotten to know over the years of doing these festivals; they are awesome musicians and very nice people!


Heisnberg festival and competition already seems like a million years away, but it was one of my favorite festivals of all. Hosted by the great Ukrainian guitarist Roman Viazovskiy, this biennial festival has a a cozier and more familial atmosphere. The performers, competitors, luthiers, concertgoers and volunteers all mix much more than in many of the larger festivals; the whole city has a part in it. These were some of the highlights: All of the concerts. Meeting the luthier Karl-Heinz Römmich, who is not only a great guitar builder, but somewhat of a strange polymath and extremely funny and generous person. A private guitar comparison with Roman Viazovskiy, Artyom Devroed and Qingchuan Li. Playing the only Hauser Viennese style guitar I know of with a cut-away :). Hanging out at the expo and festival bar with some other great luthiers Karl-Heinz Römmich, Hideo Sato, Steven Den Toom, Walter Verreydt, Götz Bürki and Jean Marquet.


Seattle was a whirlwind mostly of visiting family and friends, but I did make a few work related stops. I went up to the Rosewood guitar shop to drop of a guitar and visit with the owner Bill Clements and some of my old friends there. While I was there, I managed to play and briefly inspect a couple of beautiful 1980’s Ruck guitars from the private collection. My friend and fellow luthier, Max Sipe came up from Portland and we grilled on the lake, drank beers and talked guitars. I also visited Michael Partington and nerded out on guitars from his collection. Last but not least, I visit my friend Ryan Layne Whitney, who just acquired a new/old forte piano. In addition to that, he now has, in his two bedroom downtown apartment, a baby grand piano, a double manual harpsichord, a lute harpsichord and about 5 clavichords and a few other historical keyboard oddities. If you are into that kind of thing, then you should check out his youtube channel.


I was only able to attend the first few days of the Koblenz because I had to get back home to my family, but it was great to be back again and to lounge along the Rhein/Mosel at the Beer gardens with the other guitar builders. The concerts were great. I particularly enjoyed Lukasz Kuraposcewski’s afternoon concert. And, of course, catching up with my old Graz guitar buddies that I met in German class, Miguel Mandelli. Still sad that he moved away, but happy he is doing well and now studying in Köln.

That’s it for now. I probably forgot a lot of stuff, but that’s already a lot. Hope it’s interesting or helpful for people that don’t make it out to these things, but are interested in checking out some of these other great guitarists and guitar builders!