Talks and panels are a big part of the Summit experience. Each year, we feature some of the biggest names in lutherie, many Fretboard Journal subjects and some of our favorite musicians to share their stories with you. This year, we'll have over 30 hours of talks and panels in one weekend. Some highlights: 

Dana Bourgeois – Guitar Voicing 101

Every time we talk to Maine’s Dana Bourgeois we learn something new about guitar construction and tonewoods. Bourgeois was featured in The Fretboard Journal, but he’s also been a guest on our podcast and a frequent resource for our magazine’s editors and writers. For this year's Summit, Dana is revisiting his ultra-packed session from last year. Ever wanted to voice your own top? Here's your chance. There will be a one hour session where he walks us through voicing basics and then a two hour hands-on demo where the fingerplanes come out and you can try your hand at shaving some braces. 

Michael Gurian – An Interview with the Master

Michael Gurian is a living legend in the world of guitars. A product of the Greenwich Village scene of the 1960s, Gurian started out making and repairing classical guitars, ouds and lutes. As his business grew, he expanded to steel string guitars and eventually created one of the first “boutique” guitar factories of the modern era. Since closing Gurian Guitars, he has devoted himself to supplying inlay, bridge pins and CNC fabrication to the industry. At the end of 2016, Gurian will retire from the industry. Here’s a rare chance to hear some insights – and entertaining stories – from the master. Watch the documentary we filmed on Gurian here. 

Laurence Juber & Dick Boak - Guitarmania to Beatlemania: The Evolution of the Acoustic Guitar

C. F. Martin & Co is proud to present “Guitarmania to Beatlemania: The Evolution of the Acoustic Guitar,” featuring renowned Grammy Award-winning, guitar virtuoso Laurence Juber. Dick Boak, archivist for Martin Guitar, will present an interactive history of the 183-year-old guitar company, showcase an array of historically significant guitars that trace the instrument's evolution, and highlight the succession of famed guitarists that have contributed to American musical culture. In addition to performing on period instruments, Juber will discuss his work composing, recording and serving as the lead guitarist with Paul McCartney's band Wings, as well as his prolific work as a solo instrumentalist.

David Murray - To India and Back

A lot of luthiers make sacrifices to pull off their craft but David Murray has taken it to a whole nother level. Murray will talk about the journey he’s taken since 2010 with the creation of the Dehradun Guitar Company in India. Through guitar making, Murray and his wife have given a second chance to individuals who were living on the fringes of society, many of whom assumed they had no salable skills. It would be a riveting, inspirational story even if the guitars weren’t beautiful, but they certainly are.

John Thomas & Dale Fairbanks - Beyond Kalamazoo: A Look at the Enduring Legacy of the Women-Built ‘Banner’ Gibsons

Author and FJ contributor John Thomas and luthier Dale Fairbanks talk about the replication of the only “Banner” Gibson every reinspected by its WWII-era inspector. Flatpicker extraordinaire Bob Minner will demonstrate the original and the replica, signed by one of the original Gals and bearing bits of wood that somehow escaped the Gibson factory during WWII, before passing the guitars to the audience.

Howard Klepper - What Is Handmade?

Bay area lutherie veteran addresses the age old question: Just what constitutes a “handmade” guitar? He’ll review some of what has been said by others about the physical differences between hand- and factory-made guitars, but he’ll also distinguish hand craft from production work in general and why people may value handcraft apart from whether or not it creates a better product. Klepper will apply those distinctions to some of the changing guitar building methods now used by individuals and boutique factories, including his own shop. Discussion among those attending is welcome.

Mark Stutman - Why Small Things Matter: A Repair-Person’s Look at Some of the Little Things that Make a Big Difference to a Guitar’s Tone

Mark Stutman, Folkway Music founder and restoration specialist, will share some of his observations from 20 years of repairing and restoring guitars, old and new. A guitar’s tone is affected by hundreds of variables - many of which most players rarely give much thought to. From the height and fit of a guitar’s saddle to the mass of the tuning machines, every little detail makes a difference - and these can add up to affect your instrument’s tone in a significant way. Getting that last 5% of tone out of your guitar is just a few steps away. This discussion will arm you with some solid insight into how to make sure your guitar is sounding its best.

Stu Cohen - Banjo Wars: Innovations and Marketing the Banjo, 1865-1898

The post-Civil War till the turn of the century was a period of innovation leading to the banjo we know today. The five Dobson brothers were at the vanguard of these innovations. The Music Emporium founder Stu Cohen walks us through their history and that of their commercial rival, S. S. Stewart.

TJ Thompson - True or False or Myth busting

Adirondack you say? What makes you think so? Is it possible to build a new guitar just like the old guitars? How long is long scale? Is hide glue really better? Should you have that popsicle brace removed? Internet bloggers who believe they know the answers to these questions beware: This lecture may not be for you. Famed luthier TJ Thompson will present incontrovertible evidence to support his long-held belief that no one really knows what they're talking about. Join him on this journey to the unknowing. 

Gary Hustwit-Led Panel: Electric Guitar Design

Film director, guitar collector and design aficionado Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Objectified, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart) interviews Saul Koll, Creston Lea and others about the aesthetic choices that go behind each instrument they make, what motivates them and where they’re headed. A deep dive into the world of design with some of the best.

Gabriel Tenorio – A String Thing

You've met guitar and pedal builders, have you ever met a string maker? Gabriel Tenorio, longtime business and product manager/designer at Guadalupe Custom Strings, just launched his new company, the Gabriel Tenorio String Co. It's a small, artisanal operation focusing solely on round core handmade products for acoustic and clectric instruments. He will be sharing insights on just how strings are actually made, why round core matters and more.

Tim Luranc - The Early Days of Taylor Guitars

Forget everything you think you know about Taylor guitars today: Master luthier Tim Luranc has known Taylor founders Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug for four decades and has seen everything. During this talk, Luranc will walk us through Taylor’s unique history and describe how a trio of guitar makers ended up creating a global brand.

Gary Hustwit & Guests - The First Bigsby

Paul Bigsby began creating musical instruments in 1943, when he built his own aluminum lap steel guitar. He showed this first instrument to Joaquin Murphey, steel guitarist for Spade Cooley, who ordered one and kickstarted Bigsby’s building career. Bigsby went on to pioneer the solidbody electric guitar and invent the vibrato system that bears his name, but the whereabouts of that first instrument have always been a mystery. After a 75-year odyssey involving a teenaged Beatles fan, a Cadillac and the Freemasons, the First Bigsby unexpectedly resurfaced this year. Join us for a special session where we’ll unveil the guitar to the public for the first time, hear the story of its rediscovery from owner Gary Hustwit and experience it played live.

T. Drew Heinonen - The Summit OM Unveil

For nearly a year, the Fretboard Journal has been following up-and-coming luthier T. Drew Heinonen as he builds us a custom OM-style acoustic guitar. On numerous podcast episodes, Drew has walked us through his build process, explained what he learned from fellow luthiers such as Jim Olson and Dana Bourgeois, helped us decide on tone woods and more. Well, the wait is over… during this session, we’ll get to finally see the finished product and pass it around.   

Preston Thompson - It’s the Little Things

Preston Thompson started off guitar making in the ‘80s with his interest in pre-war guitars being heighten by his friendship with Charles Sawtelle and his vintage collection. When Preston acquired his 1892 Martin Parlor it was an inspiration to craft something modern day from the best of the past because of the how the little guitar packed a “big wallop.”

Joe Glaser – PLEK Roundtable

Letting a robot dress the frets of your guitar? You bet. We’ll have an entire panel on the PLEK. We’ll talk to a handful of PLEK fans (including some of the biggest guitar makers alive today), along with a skeptic or two. Led by Nashville’s Joe Glaser, PLEK expert and one of the country’s great guitar repairmen.

Bryan Gallup - The Dialogue of Tone

Bryan Galloup will lead an interactive demonstration using his Galloup Wood Management and Instrument Making System™. The goal of this demonstration is to create a dialog about tonewoods used in the instrument making process and the effects they have on the final instrument. This hands-on seminar invites participants to “tone tap” tonewoods and analyze them with this easy to use, real-time software. In addition, participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments to analyze as to create a better understanding of the properties of acoustic instruments to encourage a conversation about tone.

Jim Washburn - Masonite in the Night

Danelectro smartypants Jim Washburn shares decades of Danelectro tales and tips on how to eke the most from your Dano, plus some dreadful mods. FJ contributor Washburn co-authored (with Richard Johnston) Martin Guitars: An Illustrated History of America's Premier Guitarmaker and (with Dick Boak) the upcoming The Martin Archives. He has covered music and popular culture for the LA Times, the OC Register and a host of guitar mags, commencing with a 1983 Guitar World article that remains the primary source of information on Danelectros.

Rick Turner – From the ‘60s to Beyond

In the mid and late 1960s, a new generation of musicians started to conspire with artists, engineers, technicians and artisans to break down the artificial walls between the disciplines. Jack Casady, Dan Schwartz and Rick Turner were there on the front lines of these changes, and will talk about how things were and what personal backgrounds and musical influences helped fuel new ways to make, perform and record music. Expect to get up close with plenty of vintage instruments, including Phil Lesh’s fretless Guild bass, itself an ongoing work in progress.

Throughout the weekend, look for the Fretboard Journal interviewing many of the performers and speakers on-site. Sit in, pose your own questions and help be a part of our print edition.     

Also: The art of Creston Lea & Sarah Ryan; Lyon & Healy guitar history; Robert Lawrence on early Dobro/resonator history; Eddie Lang’s L-5; yoga for guitarists with Paul Heumiller (Dream Guitars); panels on vintage Gibson collecting, vintage Martin collecting, the new guard of guitar stores and plenty of surprises; interactive luthier displays; pop-up museums; free guitar setups from Santa Cruz Guitar Company and much more. Reminder: All ticket holders are entered to win a Deering Calico banjo and a fully custom Santa Cruz Guitar Co. guitar valued at up to $10,000, plus a lot more (1 in 400 odds… not bad). 

Here's what our 2015 schedule looked like.   

Interactive Installations

The Vintage Vault
There were so many vintage guitar fanatics (and amazing vintage guitars) at our first Summit that we've set aside an entire conference room for rare and collectible instruments. Talk shop with TJ Thompson, Mark Stutman, Jim Baggett or any number of authorities, try out some of the nicest vintage guitars, mandolins and banjos in the world (yes, there will be many for sale). We'll also be holding impromptu peformances at the Vault on some truly historic instruments here, such as the first-ever guitar made by Paul Bigsby and Eddie Lang's Gibson L-5. 

Martin Guitars
C.F. Martin & Co. will bring a number of one-of-a-kind experiences and opportunities to the Summit this year, including: A showcase of historic dreadnoughts, a screening of "The Ballad of the Martin Dreadnought" and the Martin Guitar Open Mic (complete with a chance to win a new Martin D-Jr!). Dick Boak will be at the Summit throughout the weekend to talk all things Martin.

Santa Cruz Guitar Co.
Every attendee at the Fretboard Summit is entered to win a custom built Santa Cruz Guitar. Join Richard Hoover himself at the Santa Cruz Guitar Factory to design your new instrument valued at $10,000. Santa Cruz Guitars will also bring back their popular Guitar Doctor Booth, taking a look at your guitars, offering free tune-ups, string changes and more.

Deering Banjos
Every attendee is entered to win a Deering Calico banjo, valued at over $3000. Representatives from Deering (located just down the highway from the Summit in Spring Valley, California) will also be on-hand to talk banjos with attendees and we'll be hearing from Greg Deering during the Summit Talks. 

Bourgeios Guitars
Dana Bourgeois' voicing workshop was a highlight of the 2015 Fretboard Summit. Dana will return once again for another hands-on workshop for the 2016 Fretboard Summit. You may get some sawdust on your clothes, but you'll definitely learn about guitar construction and tone. 

Peghead Nation
Peghead Nation will once again be offering continuous guitar instruction and master classes throughout the Fretboard Summit. Attend as many as you like at no extra charge.

American Music Furniture
All of this entertainment is bound to make you thirsty. American Music Furniture will host special beer tasting event where you can check out some of San Diego’s finest brews.


Fretboard Summit attendees and guests are invited to a special welcome reception on Thursday, October 13th from 6 p.m - 8 p.m. at the Museum of Making Music. Located in NAMM's international headquarters just down the road in Carlsbad, the Museum of Making Music was developed to celebrate the vibrancy of the music products industry and to showcase the deep impact that music and musical instruments and products have on us as individuals and as a society.  At this reception, guests will be able to tour the permanent exhibition as well as preview the Museum's newest special exhibition "DREADNOUGHT: A Century of a Mighty Martin Guitar."  Live music and light refreshments will also be provided. RSVP by October 6th by calling 760-304-5812 or visiting

We can also help you arrange for factory tours at Taylor, Deering Banjos or any other nearby makers. We'll be announcing numerous additions more between now and Summit time but sign up soon if you'd like to reserve your ticket and hotel room while they're still available. Space is limited.