Written by Link Wentworth resident Grahame
My name is Grahame and I live with my cat Babushka. I’ve been a resident for 10 years now. Babushka is my second Siamese cat and she is the best company. If you are going to a have a cat, get a Siamese cat, they are unique. I have always been interested in acoustic guitars. I did woodworking at school, never to pick up a chisel again until I went to the UK.
In 1973, I left Sydney by boat to Bali and Singapore and from there flew to the UK with no intention of coming home soon. I lived in England for about two-and-a-half years, working as a contract computer operator. Back then it was just a different world. It took six people to work a large mainframe computer and could take up the complete floor of a large building. It was quite impressive.
I started a course in lute building and loved it. Guitar makers or luthiers were very common in the UK at that time but rare in Australia. I made the mould for a lute (quite complex) but did not have time to finish the instrument but I still have the mould hanging on the wall. It has been an obsession for the last 40 years to get it finished.
Eventually the work dried up completely and I was forced to come home to Sydney. And then, unfortunately, a few years later along came the IBM PC. Within months everyone had a desktop computer and there were no computer operator jobs.
Four years back, I discovered the Australian Guitar Making School on the Central Coast. Although at the time a Lute was not an option, I started a guitar building course. I managed to build a very nice classical guitar, that was my first one, with the guidance of the instructor.
I discovered the Annual Scholarship Program through the newsletter and thought I’d give it a go. It helped me complete the second guitar (pictured below). That guitar was quite special, it took me a long time. It was an experiment and it turned out brilliantly. I put so many features in that one instrument. I used Satin box for the back and sides, it is beautiful timber, and Engelmann spruce for the soundboard.
The guitars are all different. Different timbers, materials and so on. It takes about a year for me to make a guitar. You need about 30 years to be good at guitar building. I’d love to keep doing it. It is extremely satisfying . At the end of the build you think, ‘How did I do that?’
I’ve had two scholarships and it has been a big help. It’s extremely expensive to build a guitar but it all helps. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if it helps you do anything don’t hesitate to apply. With a bit of perseverance, you can achieve something quite amazing.
Any Link Wentworth resident can apply for a scholarship. Visit our Scholarship Program blog for more information.