1998 G.A.L. Convention
Group Photo | Presenters | Music | Exhibition | Auction | Miscellaneous | Open House | Staff & Helpers

Stuart Murphy contemplates a stack of fiddle wood.

Tim Olsen holds up the official buzzer while Bon Henderson assists at the climax of the silent auction.
Harry Fleishman and Todd Brotherton demonstrate Harry's donation, a binding router that can be used blindfolded. Big Blue Harold made a triumphal return to Guild convention entertaining with moral support from his friend Fred Carlson.
Nick Von Robison catalogs a pair of mandolin neck blanks in the preview room. David Freeman (r) auctions off the Little Man, assisted by Paddy Burgin(l) and Filo Avignonesi.
Dale Phillips• tries out the Spamdolin, a musical instrument built from a Spam can, which sold for five times its list price. The Guild is Good! Pat Smith hawks a primitive 10-string instrument of uncertain origin, which was bought by vintage tone expert Robert Steinegger.
Hey, there's a bid! And comic/auctioneer Kurt Kendall (c) has it, assited by spotter Todd (l). Piper Ron Best helped drive up the price of a tin of Gary Southwell's English tea to $30!
And speaking of dough, Deb Olsen (l) is on the spot to rake it in from Whitney Lake(c) and Julius Borges (r).    

Auction Party
by Bon "Flying Caps" Henderson
On Saturday, the luthiers are at their weakest from lack of sleep, hot weather, and sensory overload. What better time to get them bidding on stuff to benefit the Guild? Eager partygoers flooded into the cafeteria where the chairs had been rearranged and stages had been set up for music and auction. The Tom Ribbecke/Pat Smith combo kicked things off with a selection of jazz favorites while people found a seat, grabbed snacks offered by the PLU food service, and checked out the auction items one more time.

Some of our favorite guest auctioneers of the past unfortunately didn’t make it to this one, but it just so happens that our mail-order kingpin, K.P. Kendall, has fourteen years of experience as the frontman of the Guild's in-house rock-and-roll band Girl Trouble. Kurt, as he’s known to the other staff members, is not exactly shy when it comes to being in front of a crowd. He’d never auctioned anything before but agreed to give it a shot. The fact that he had no idea what the items were for, combined with the rock patter that’s made him a popular attraction at local clubs, made for one hilarious show. Kurt auctioned off “colored pieces of construction paper” (stained veneers), “enlarging devices” (glue pots), “ashtrays” (abalone shells), and “firewood” (instrument sets). The audience seemed confused at first, but soon screamed with laughter and didn't stop until Kurt was done. When Kurt didn't know the bidder, which was most of the time, he had the guts to just name them whatever popped into his head. He pointed out that calling somebody “Mr. Beard” or “Middle-aged White Guy” wasn't going to work out. Monikers like “Funky Hat,” “Plain and Simple,” “Dear Abby,'' “Mystery Hand,” and “Eric the Red” were some of the favorites.

Other members who took the auctioneer challenge were Ervin Somogyi, Pat Smith, David Freeman, Tim Olsen, and Fred Carlson. Ervin auctioned one of his own items, a mechanical automatic guitar picker. Fred auctioned off the accordian that everyone had been admiring. Tim and Nick Von Robison tried to get someone to confess that they'd taken lessons and could play a tune. The only member brave enough to admit it was Al Owchar. During the auction Fred passed the instrument to Al who played a rousing 20-second polka. The crowd was delighted, and the squeezebox fetched a decent price.

David Freeman once again had the honor of auctioning “The Little Man,” an item with a rich history. David first donated the clay figure of a guitar player in 1990. A tragic fate befell him when he was dropped and busted to pieces before he made it to that evening's party. Even so, our gallant guest huckster John Jordan auctioned him off urging everyone to take pity on “the little man.” California luthier Fred Campbell won him for about five bucks and some change, mostly nickels and dimes donated by his pals. Fred took him home promising to restore The Little Man for the next auction. That he did, but also added a beautiful wood plaque mounting to insure that the next butterfingered luthier would have more difficulty in breaking him. Fred brought him to Vermillion in 1992 and the Little Man was auctioned again by John Jordan. He was purchased by Bart Reiter and went with him to live in Haslett, Michigan for a couple of years. Bart couldn't make it to the Tacoma convention in 1995 but the Little Man did via UPS. Bart had followed through with the tradition of adding to the Little Man's glory by placing five MOP stars on the plaque below him. Again John Jordan auctioned him off in a hilarious bidding war with original donor David Freeman. At one point John's two-year-old son even bid against his own father, but in the end David Freeman won back The Little Man for $75. The Little Man spent an interesting three years in Canada with David in Tugaske, Saskatchewan. Things must have gone pretty good up there because he came back to Tacoma with a brand new amp attached to his plaque. Since John Jordan couldn't make it to the convention, David auctioned the Little Man himself. The bidding was fierce but the Little Man's destination was finally revealed. In spite of repeated hints that “The Little Man wants to go to Hawaii,” he'll be having a good ol' time down in Houston, Texas with Stuart Murphy.

Besides all that bidding and whooping it up there was more music supplied by Jere Canote and Rob Girdis, and a special appearance by Big Blue Harold, who hadn't entertained us since his GAL debut in Winfield, Kansas twenty years ago. At one point a skirling bagpiper strolled in and forced the audience to pay a certain ``fee'' to the GAL or he wouldn't stop! The rumor was that notorious Scotsman Fred Campbell was somehow involved with this hilarious stunt.

Some amazing items were donated this year. Tom Ribbecke and David Freeman each donated a full tuition to their lutherie courses. Frederich Holtier donated two nice handmade guitars in new cases. Sixteen of Fred Carlson's incredible banners that had been the lecture backdrop went on sale. These were among the hottest items all night. People furiously bid on each one resulting in a big contribution to the GAL and a rather surprised and pleased Fred.

The night was a huge success in entertainment value and donations. The grand total earned was $14,402. Not bad for a garage sale!

Auction Donors
Acoustical Accoutrements: silk violin caseAllen Guitars: eight slotted ebony fingerboardsSteve Andersen: sandpaper, spoke shave, tool steelBrent Benfield: Honduras rosewood burl • Robert Benedetto: two sets Sperzel TunersJack Bledsoe: beaver stick burl tableJimmy Brown: rustic vihuelaCyndy Burton/Jeff Elliott: two guitars with case, guitar cases, framed D. Reinhardt printJohn Calkin: guest pass tag and poster to Smithsonian “Blue Guitar” showFW Campbell & Sons: custom nitrocellulose finish • Graham Caldersmith: Australian blackwood set, brigalow fingerboard, King William pineFred Carlson: sixteen handmade art wood cuts (stage decor)William Chapin: figured mesquite set • Tom Dollar: pearl stock and abaloneHarry Fleishman: jig for binding cuttingFrank Ford/Don MacRostie: hide glue, assorted woodDavid Freeman, Timeless Instruments: Timeless Instruments seven week instrument building course (tuition and housing), “The Little Man”; sitka, larch, and Englemann tops, two Brazilian rosewood blanks, one ebony tailpiece, t-shirtBen Frye, Frye Guitar Co.: Kyser fingerpicks, Arion bass chorus, “Signature” bass bridge, “Shadow” preamp w/four-band EQ, Martin 3+3 chrome tuners (Sperzel), Grover six-in-line tuners, Mighty-Mike vibrato bridge, three Fender “Tusq” nut blanks, four Sovtek preamp tubes, Les Paul style pickguard, Franz MetronomeBob Gleason: pearl piecesJay Hargreaves: Richard Scheinder souvenier posterDuane Heilman: Spam-dolin, Tuna-tar Yong Chin Hoe: two sets agathis species hardwoodHibdon Hardwoods: three mahogany setsFrederich Holtier: handmade electric guitar and case, handmade classic guitar and case, classic guitar bridges, rosettes, pickguards, saddles, three sets stringsTom Ivey: bridge pins, plywood mahogany sides and end blocks, back and sides and brace stock, rosewood bindingStephen Kinnaird: adjustable cocobolo, ebony, ziricote bevelChristopher Laaraman: ornamented brass small-radius planeSaul Koll, 12th Fret: two bending irons, side former, and molds • John Leach, LaserWriting: race unity t-shirtSam Littlepage: “frame” guitar and woodsJason Lollar: pickup winding book and suppliesLuthiers Mercantile International: router base, seven colored veneers, ziricote back and sides, high flame European maple back and sides, Bartolini Strat electric harness, book The Fine Spanish Guitar • Don MacRostie: softwood topJohn Marshall, Luthiers International: P/J bass pickup setGraham McDonald/Gerard Gilet: Tasmanian blackwood guitar setJohn Mickelson, FIK: fossil ivory bridge pinsDon Musser: blue spruce tops, quilted mahogany, cocobolo setPeter Oberg: seventeen rosettes and purfling cutterTim Olsen: Scientific American with Carleen Hutchins articleW.A. Petersen: bent rosewood sidesBart Reiter: toy carTom Ribbecke: one-week archtop lecture/demo course (last one for five years)Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery: one set koa back and sidesNick Von Robison: five antique molding planes, three lutherie books, ’20s era Zimmerman autoharpRobert Ruck: sandpaperFred Sheppard: Brazilian rosewoodErvin Somogyi: instrument plucking machine, eight cast iron framing clamps, low-tech glue pot, chisel and file handles, truss rod stock, respirator cartridges, sandpaper, wood filler, Rockwell sander, ninety-three aniline dye packets, misc finishing productsGary Southwell: English teaSteffanoff family: violin necks and plates, purfling, fiddle bodies, vintage accordian, three violins with bows, violin patterns and molds, violin wood and accessories, cello molds, patterns, and misc.Bob Steinegger: 1921 silver dollar, Epiphone “fixer upper” (duct tape donated by Nick Robison), maple necks, two sets Everly strings, Martin neck, larch topwood, walrus and elephant ivory, maple and Engleman blocksStewart-MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply: top and back set for archtop, seventy-three European spruce tops, twenty-two maple back and side sets with spruce tops, pre-carved top for L-5, four neck blanks, Stew-Mac neck removal jig, fret saw with scales, Stew-Mac books, Gibson pickup, seven Schaeller bass and guitar pickups, two Warwick bass bridges and tailpiece (chrome and gold), reproduction Fender Tele bridge, L-5 style tailpiece, Selmer style tailpiece, Duesenberg bridge, neck routing bridge jig, Stew-Mac fret press, Fender Mustang-style tailpiece, leveling device with paperTargo Woods: koa back and sides, two ebony billetsTen-Co: five cam clampsTimbre Tonewoods: sitka tops, western red cedar top, Englemann spruce top, quilted mapleWood Marine: three sitka archtop tops.

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