Guitar fest brings world-class luthiers to Vancouver

Ever dream of playing the opening of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” on a $6000 guitar while the maker of that guitar looks on, aghast? Make that dream a reality at this year’s Vancouver International Guitar Festival.

The only festival of its kind in Vancouver, the VIGF brings together guitar builders, players, collectors, and aficionados to share knowledge, expertise, enthusiasm and their favourite classic-rock guitar riffs over two days of live music, master classes, workshops, and exhibitions. You’ll also have the chance to purchase some of the world’s finest handmade stringed instruments directly from world-class luthiers.

This year, the festival proper takes place Aug 11 & 12 at the Creekside Community Centre (1 Athletes Way) in the former Olympic Village. The event includes a licensed bar. Meanwhile, the nearby Sarah McLachlan School of Music (138 E. 7h St.) hosts a couple of concerts. See below for more details.

Luthier Industry Builder Award—For over half a century, Michael Dunn of Bluedog Guitars has built guitars for some of the world’s foremost players and collectors in his East Vancouver workshop. He’ll receive a Luthier Industry Builder Award at the festival. Dunn also presents Introduction to Guitar Making: Acoustic (Aug. 11 at 10 a.m.).

2018 VIGF Guitar Exhibition (Aug. 11 & 12)—Master luthiers from Canada, the U.S., and around the world present their work. These include electric and acoustic guitars, ukuleles and basses, “from the most avant-garde to the staunchly traditional,” according to In addition, exhibiting luthiers will in attendance to chat and watch you mangle “Wish You Were Here.” VIGF will also present a selection of vendors who supply wood and parts to the custom guitar trade.

Ervin Somogyi—A rock star in luthier circles, the Hungarian-born Somogyi has written two volumes on lutherie, The Responsive Guitar and Making the Responsive Guitar. Also, he builds high-end steel-string guitars that sell for over $30,000 each. Musicians such as the late John Denver, Michael Hedges, and Alex de Grassi are fans, and collectors buy his instruments as investments. He’ll present a master-class in guitar-making Aug. 12 (12:30-2 p.m. free).

The All-Star Guitar Pull (Aug 10 at 7 p.m., Sarah McLachlan School of Music, 138 East 7th Ave.)—Local players Don Alder, Itamar Erez, Mark Lemaire, David Martone, Adam Miller, François Pelletier, Paul Pigat and Terry Robb perform. Tickets $39.50 (plus service & tax), general admission.

Harry Manx (Aug 11 at 7:30 p.m., Sarah McLachlan School of Music)—The Canadian blues player is known for fusing Eastern musical traditions with the blues. Among his instruments: conventional guitars, harmonica, banjo, and the Mohan veena, a 20-stringed instrument invented by Manx’ Indian mentor Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Manx has released a number of albums, including his most recent, 2017’s Faith Lift. Tickets $39.50 (plus service & tax), general admission.

For more info on the 2018 Vancouver International Guitar Festival, visit

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