George Morris is a master luthier. He started playing the guitar as a student when folk and blues dominated the college music scene. During those years and with no thought of a career path, he also made furniture for friends and teachers perfecting a craft that he had learned in his father’s workshop as a teenager. After earning a degree in English literature, he began taking classical guitar lessons. Unable to afford the quality of guitar he wanted and confident in his wood crafting skills, he decided to find someone who could teach him to build guitars. In 1975, he enrolled in Charles Fox’s school in Vermont, one of only two guitar-making schools in the United States at that time. A year later, he became an instructor at the same school working with his mentor Fox to train hundreds of students in the art of guitar making.
George opened his own school in 1983, Vermont Instruments located in Post Mills a small rural community near Dartmouth College. This school has attracted students from Europe and Australia as well as the Americas to learn the craft of making guitars and other stringed instruments such as mandolins, dobros, violins, and cellos.
Many of his graduates now work at the highest levels of the craft as independent luthiers or for major companies such as Martin Guitar, Yamaha, and Elderly Instruments. George has also built prototype guitars incorporating new design features for companies such as Yamaha. One of his favourite projects is building the instruments for the Keene State College Guitar Orchestra, an ensemble of twenty or more guitars of different sizes and pitch.
He describes Montrealer Danny Fonfeder’s proposition as the answer to a prayer. George and his wife Pippa, a fabric designer had visited Bali to study the renowned art forms there and he had always wanted to return. The challenge of teaching guitar making to skilled Balinese wood carvers was irresistible.
Building and equipping a guitar-making shop in Bali with the right humidity control required to build sensitive stringed instruments was only the first challenge faced by George and Wayan Tuges. Bali’s lack of technical resources including a limited power grid combined with a hot, humid climate might have defeated less determined men. But they persevered, moving forward slowly until the day they and their team of carvers produced that first perfect guitar, a flawless balance of high-tolerance woodworking, metal work and musical performance. It is a day they will never forget.
“Blueberry Guitars are unique, a true marriage of east and west and of art, science and business. I know now, beyond a doubt, that when individuals from different cultures combine their skills to achieve a common goal, the results are spectacular and exemplary. This is a model for a world too often characterized by conflict.”
How often do you get to actually talk to the owner,founder and maker of a guitar company. Danny Fonfeder is a great guy to talk to. He will tell you every thing you need to know and truly has a passion for his Blueberry guitars. This guitar is nothing short of spectacular to look at and sounds as good as it looks. If it were stolen, Oh yeah…I would replace it.