Some 25 years ago there were only
a few important guitar makers, like Martin or Gibson. But acoustic
guitars were getting popular and new guitar makers like Bob Taylor
and Michael Gurian could easily enter the market. However, unlike
the traditional guitar makers, they introduced new techniques
and improvements on the concept of the acoustical guitar.
One of the most interesting details
on the Gurian guitar is the neck-body connection. If you take
a look through the sound hole of a Gurian guitar you can clearly
see that the neck is attached using two wooden pins. There is
no glue used at all ! A more detailed description is given in
the book "Guitar making: Tradition and Technology",
by William R. Cumpiano and Jonathan D. Natelson (Rosewood Press
1987, ISBN 0-9618737-0-1).
Michael Gurian was both a major American wood supplier and
a builder of some of the most distinctive steel-strings to appear
in a long time. Born in 1943, a Brooklynite of Armenian descent,
he took lessons on various instruments and developed a fondness
for wood. He later studied sculpture at Long Island University,
took up classical guitar, and taught music in Roslyn, New York.
With his studio apartment for a workshop, Michael built his
first guitar-a copy of a classical made by Victor Manuel Piniero,
a student of Velasquez. In 1965 he moved to a three-room shop
in Greenwich Village, and with two assistants began building
classical instruments. Traditional steel-strings were added four
years later, and Gurian introduced his own distinctive body shapes
soon after that. The company moved to Bedford Street and then
Grand Street, his crew of builders growing to 15. In 1971 he
relocated in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, because of that state's
favorable business climate. Vintage retailer Matt Umanov encouraged
him to build a cutaway, and he did. It became a regular member
of the line.
A terrible 1979 fire resulting from a boiler explosion destroyed
not only all of Gurian's guitars but also his tooling and machinery
as well. After the half-million-dollar loss he rebuilt and grew,
recovering with remarkable perseverance from a defeat that would
have sent a lesser person back to guitar teaching for good. By
late 1979 Gurian was employing over two dozen people and servicing
nearly 200 dealers worldwide. In early 1980, with 90 percent
of his pre-fire craftsmen still with him, he was looking forward
to manufacturing guitars once again.
Gurian's background as an expert with old-fashioned techniques
manifests itself in his instruments, whose unusually rounded
bodies are most appealing. They combine classical appointments
and modern interior construction; the tone is bright and strong.
Because of the unfavorable economic climate, Michael Gurian was
forced to close his business in the winter of 1981-82.
At this moment Michael still accepts orders for custom guitars.
You can reach him at the following address:
206 3rd Ave South
Seattle WA 98104