From gui­tarist to gui­tar-maker

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

a dream come true. Mak­ing gui­tars al­low me to im­bue a hand­made item with my un­der­stand­ing and pas­sion for mu­sic,” said Gao.

The first mu­si­cal in­stru­ment that Gao learned was ac­tu­ally not the gui­tar, but the flute. When he was 16, he learnt to play the gui­tar by him­self and he took a one-year pro­fes­sional gui­tar course at the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic af­ter grad­u­at­ing from univer­sity. Such was his tal­ent in play­ing the in­stru­ment that he later won the Na­tional Gui­tar Com­pe­ti­tion in 2000.

For sev­eral years, Gao worked at Yamaha Shang­hai as a mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor tasked with ex­pand­ing the gui­tar mar­ket in China. In 2009, Gao de­cided to quit, but his life since then still largely re­volves around the mu­si­cal in­stru­ment. To­day, apart from mak­ing gui­tars, he also teaches chil­dren how to play the in­stru­ment.

From cut­ting wood pieces to glu­ing the frames and paint­ing the prod­uct, it nor­mally takes Gao about four months to craft a gui­tar. He shared that the process of con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing the gui­tar could take even longer.

Gao said that he has al­ways pri­or­i­tized qual­ity above ev­ery­thing else when mak­ing his gui­tars, and has over the years stocked his work­shop with many pre­cious and valu­able types of wood from all over the world.

“Mak­ing gui­tars can be con­sid­ered an ad­vanced skill for a gui­tarist. It al­lows him to learn how dif­fer­ent types of wood, the thick­ness of the wood and the pat­terns used re­sult in dif­fer­ent sounds,” said Gao.

“Un­like other wooden prod­ucts like fur­ni­ture, a gui­tar is not just about the out­look and the tech­nique — it is more re­lated to the in­stinct and ex­pe­ri­ence of the crafts­man that helps to cre­ate a per­fect res­o­nance.”

In a bid to im­prove his skills, Gao even flew to Spain to be men­tored by An­to­nio Marin Mon­tero, one of the world’s great­est gui­tar mak­ers, for two weeks. Gao is now also learn­ing how to com­bine tech­nol­ogy and com­puter soft­ware with tra­di­tional hand­made tech­niques to save time and en­sure the ac­cu­racy of the de­sign. He added that he is cur­rently aim­ing to re­place the process of hand draw­ing his de­signs with com­puter aided de­sign soft­ware.

“Mak­ing gui­tars is to make it be a part of me. I get to per­form a melody with my hands and ex­press my feel­ings,” said Gao.


Gao Yi pol­ish­ing a gui­tar in his work­shop.

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