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One of many few native builders of stringed devices whose work shouldn’t be featured within the exhibit Benjamin Liggett curated for 108 Modern is Benjamin Liggett.
Liggett has been constructing acoustic and electrical guitars for about 9 years, such because the AbstracT, a mannequin impressed by the Fender Telecaster.
However the thought of placing one in every of his guitars subsequent to the gadgets that make up “A Luthier’s Story: The Craft of Stringed Devices” made him greater than a bit uncomfortable.
“It might be like curating a present of Andy Warhol’s work, and also you determine so as to add one in every of your personal drawings to it,” Liggett stated. “It simply didn’t look like the fitting factor to do.”
“A Luthier’s Story” collects examples of handmade acoustic and electrical guitars, together with banjos, violins, violas, cellos and double-basses, which both have been made by Tulsa-area luthiers, or not less than have some form of Tulsa connection.
Liggett stated he realized that 108 Modern, the Tulsa Arts District gallery that makes a speciality of showcasing and selling superb craft artwork, was eager to do an exhibit on the artwork of instrument-making and approached the gallery together with his concepts.
“The one factor I actually needed everybody to see on this exhibit is the whole lot that goes into the making of a guitar or a violin,” he stated. “These items aren’t simply spat out of a machine. A variety of love and care has gone into the making of each one of many devices on this present.”
Many of the devices on show are one-of-a-kind creations, equivalent to “Audrey One,” an electrical guitar created by a workforce of Japanese artists that calls itself Jersey Woman Handmade Guitar. Liggett stated he included the guitar within the present as a result of the artists who made it drew from Native American imagery to create the inlays that adorn the neck.
The majority of the guitar is customary from mahogany, with rosewood and maple accents, from the settings for the guitar’s pickups to the covers of the tone and quantity management knobs.
“Tropical woods like rosewood and ebony have some distinctive qualities,” Liggett stated. “Should you faucet a bit of rosewood, it creates this shiny, bell-like chime. It simply rings. However, faucet a bit of walnut, and it creates a a lot decrease pitch. The density of sure woods simply have a singular resonance that basically provides to a guitar’s character.”
Some guitars within the present, however, are created from supplies which have a personality past merely how they sound.
The Cain’s Ballroom Guitar, created by Roger Cowan of Canine Drained Guitars in Perkins, is created from wooden reclaimed from the unique dance flooring of “Tulsa’s Timeless Honkytonk.”
One can see the mortise and tenon joints of the floorboards alongside the sting of the guitar (the unique wooden is sandwiched round one other, strong piece of wooden to stabilize the instrument), and the decide guard is customary from an outdated Bob Wills vinyl report.
“What I feel is absolutely cool,” Liggett stated, flipping the guitar over, “is that you would be able to see the imprint of the mill that made the boards for the Cain’s flooring.”
Different eye-catching devices embody William Murrell’s “Victory Collection Electrical Guitar,” whose physique is customary from tiger maple and exhibits off the wooden’s distinctive sample; a trio of “Twangcaster” fashions by Tulsa guitar maker Lloyd A. Prins, who has created guitars for prime Nashville session and touring guitarists, in addition to for Oklahoma musicians together with Cody Canada and Jason Boland; and Larry Hefner’s customized solid-body electrical guitar embellished in a method reminiscent to the summary artwork he creates.
Within the case of the members of the violin household on show, Liggett relied a terrific deal on Lou Lynch, who has owned the Tulsa Violin Store within the Tulsa Arts District for a few years.
Included within the exhibit are particular person violins and violas, in addition to string quartet units (two violins, viola and cello) by Man Cole and Ken Beckmann, and bows by Tom Goering.
“Lou is far more in contact with that facet of the luthier world, and he pointed me to the fitting individuals,” Liggett stated.
Liggett, a Tulsa native, initially educated to be a machinist at Tulsa Know-how Middle, and spent a couple of years making elements for the oil trade.
“I all the time appreciated working with my arms, and I knew that school wasn’t for me,” he stated. “However after some time I obtained to the purpose the place what I used to be doing wasn’t enjoyable anymore. I assumed I’d begin working in wooden, as a result of I might take care of wooden splinters so much simpler than I might with steel shavings.”
He went to the Roberto-Venn Faculty of Luthiery in Phoenix, a five-month immersive course in instrument-making during which college students needed to construct one acoustic and one electrical guitar.
Liggett returned to Tulsa and went to work at Bishline Banjos, which is run by Rob Bishline, himself a graduate of the Roberto-Venn Faculty.
Liggett acknowledged that making customized guitars isn’t a path to monetary riches, however the rewards the method affords can’t be beat.
That features seeing the devices he has chosen for the present displayed on the partitions of the 108 Modern exhibition house.
“I actually like the truth that these guitars are hanging on the wall as items of artwork,” Liggett stated. “As a result of that’s actually what they’re. You take a look at one thing just like the scroll on the finish of a cello’s neck, or the superb element most individuals gained’t ever discover, and it’s apparent that these devices are additionally stunning works of sculptures.”
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