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Hi Everyone!

    As time permits, I'll be adding content to this site.  As a convenient way (I hope) to find out if the site has changed since the last time you've logged on, I have added this page, which will document updates and supply links to the new content.

 

Please note that I'll be updating this site on a monthly basis rather than daily.

 



 



 

 

Well, mark Sunday August 27th on your calendar folks ... this is going to be a blast! As part of the Group of Seven Guitar project, three of us will be participating in an "Acoustic Conversation" taking place at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg ... a moderated discussion about the project as a whole, the Franklin Carmichael Guitar that was my contribution, and talking points about guitars and the arts in general ... followed by a concert by Michael Francis!

Moderator Kerry Crawford is a musician and producer who has spent over thirty years in recording studios, working in a production capacity for advertising music, TV shows such as Second City Television, and producing records for noted Canadian artists such as Bruce Cockburn and Jane Siberry. Kerry has enjoyed working with a diverse group of musicians whose venues have ranged from the sidewalk to our finest concert halls. Being a guitarist himself, he has taken a special interest in the evolution of the instrument and is a great admirer of the remarkably talented luthiers participating in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s The Group of Seven Guitar Project.

Mike Francis is considered by many to be the most recorded guitar player in Canada. He has spent over 35 years working in the Toronto recording scene on literally thousands of jingles, numerous tv shows, films, and recording projects for variety artists and producers. The various styles he plays include Blues, R+B, Funk, Jazz, Pop, Folk and Country music.  He has recorded with Alanis Morissette, Jann Arden, Enrique Iglesias, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Nelly Furtado, Kim MItchell, Alannah Myles, Jesse Winchester, Smokey Robinson, and many others.

For my part, I'll be walking everyone through the creative process of my instrument and commenting on the past, present and future of handmade guitars in Canada, the universe and beyond!

For tickets and info go to mcmichael.com

 

 

 


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I know that it's not to everyone's taste, but I think this is one of my favorite looks in a guitar ... a bit of a retro feel, with a touch of modern thrown in. Here's one of my Modern Slope MS-1 models with a stunning set of Cocobolo, checkered binding, rope-bound Taj Mahal peghead with cast metal logo badge, Manzer wedge and RFX raised fingerboard extension!


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Here's a quick-and-nasty audio file I recorded (with a slideshow of the build process) shortly after I strung up this guitar for the first time.



 

 

CBC q Tom Power


Linda Manzer and I had a great time being interviewed on CBC's "q" by Tom Power about the Group of Seven Guitar Project! All the folks at CBC were super nice, including Tom himself. This program goes nation-wide and is heard by over 3 million people every day! Here's a link to the interview (click on "Listen" just below the first image)


Link to the interview

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitar
left to right: Tony Duggan-Smith, Linda Manzer, Grit Laskin, David Wren, George Gray and Sergei de Jonge


I have NO idea how we got talked into performing at the McMichael gallery's exclusive ($500.00 a plate) Moonlight Gala fundraiser ... but after one rehearsal at Linda's place, we performed Grit's song "I'm A Guitarmaker" in front of 700 well-heeled patrons of the arts. I guess the band reunion will be in twenty years?

 

 

May 2017

Group of Seven Guitar Project

 

Well ... the Group of Seven Guitar Project was launched at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on May 6th and will run until October 31st. There were an estimated 500 people at the opening which is apparently a record for the gallery! This project was conceived and directed by Linda Manzer and included works by Jean Larrivée, Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, William Grit Laskin, Linda Manzer and myself ... each luthier creating an instrument that was a tribute to one of the original Group of Seven painters.

Leading up to the opening of the exhibit, we received a nice smattering of press, including two articles in the Globe and Mail (both online and in print), a nice piece in Acoustic Guitar Magazine (again online and print) and nice podcast by Fretboard Journal!

I was honoured to be asked to participate in this project and had a blast working with the old gang from back in the seventies ... I just wish it could have been the Group of 77 so that all of the other incredible luthiers could have participated. The first builder who comes to mind is G.W. Barry. Gordon apprenticed and worked with Jean Larrivee 35 years ago and since that time has created a body of work that is second to none!

 

Link to the Acoustic Guitar Magazine article

Link to the Globe and Mail article

Link to the Fretboard Journal Podcast on the Group of Seven Guitar Project (number 144)

 

Riddle Films

Two days after the opening of the Group of Seven Guitar Project at the McMichael, the documentary by Riddle Films was premiered at the TIFF/Bell Lightbox Theater in downtown Toronto. It was a bit bizarre seeing this project take shape on that large screen!

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitar Works

 

This Remuda Hybrid model went to a great player in New York who is also a part time guitar builder himself. What a joy to work with this level of tonewood ... a Master Grade Lutz top with spectacular Macassar back and sides!

 

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Here's a brief audio file that I recorded shortly after I strung this one up ... along with a slide show of the build process.

 
 

 

 

 

Mike Francis

 

I'd like to send a huge shout out to my buddy Mike Francis! Mike has taken time out from his busy performing and studio schedule to support my part in the Group of Seven Guitar Project. He was not only featured in the upcoming documentary, but composed and recorded two pieces specifically for the project. Check out "Grace Lake" and "Shadow and Light" if you want a real musical treat. I can't thank you enough Mike!!!

 

 

Grace Lake

Shadow and Light

 

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitars

 

I absolutely love it when I get an order that includes the checkered binding option ... especially when it includes the Taj Mahal peghead! Just after I introduced this MS-1 Modern Slope dreadnought model a number of years ago, I decided to close my order book so that I could catch up a bit on my commissions. When I opened my book in October 2016, I immediately got orders for it again!

 

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Tom Thomson Guitar
Left to right: David Wren, George Gray, Sergei deJonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, Linda Manzer

 

Well, I figured it would be a blast, but I didn't count on it being quite that much fun!

As part of the upcoming "Group of Seven Guitar Project" that will be exhibited at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection starting May 6th 2017 ... all seven of us will be involved in group-building the Tom Thomson guitar. To kick things off, five of us got the woodworking started up in Chelsea Quebec at Sergei de Jonge's (wonderful) shop.

By the time this instrument is finished, Sergei deJonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, William "Grit" Laskin, Jean Larrivee, Linda Manzer and myself will all have been involved in this guitar.

I'll keep you posted regarding the progress of this very cool project!

 

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New Wren Shop

 

Putting the new shop to bed after the first day of guitar work! Has anyone else underestimated how long it takes to move and re-setup a new shop? I'm loving the new setup and am looking forward to getting back to making wood dust!

Back in 2012 I closed my order book as I was getting booked up too far in advance. I've finally delivered all of those commissions and as of this morning have started taking orders again.

I'm now offering the cases with custom carbon fiber Hoffee flight cases.

Check out my Catalogue Page for the different models available and my Options Page for options.

 

Oct 15 Update

Well, that was fast ... I'm now booked until the end of 2018 and have closed my order book again! Please email me if you would like to be on my new waiting list. Thanks so much for your support everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delivery

 

After months of R&D, design and production, I finally delivered my part of the Group of Seven Guitar Project to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. This project is Linda Manzer's brain child and she has been working tirelessly for years to make it happen. There is a long lead time on this exhibit (May 2017) to accommodate the film documentary ... but it should be worth the wait.

The photo above shows me pulling the instrument out of the case to show head curator Sarah Stanners and the rest of the folks at the gallery. More information on this exhibit will be available in the months to come!

 

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitars

 

Thanks to the folks at Japan's prestigeous "Acoustic Guitar" magazine for the segment and photos highlighting my JB-0 model! It still amazes me how word spreads in the digital age!

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitar Works

 

   I've received some emails from folks who have noted that I'm not posting my normal updates, chronicling the build process and finished guitar for the current month. The reason for this, is that I'm involved in a large project that will see myself, Linda Manzer, Jean Larrivee, Grit Laskin, Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith and George Gray ... each building a guitar that has been commissioned by a prominent art gallery.

   For my part, I've started with a blank piece of paper and designed a new instrument from scratch. I will be building all of the molds, jigs and fixtures to bring this instrument to completion ... all of which of course, takes time.

   There is a documentary film and other aspects of this project that will be taking my time over the coming months ... so even if you don't see updates on my site, I am still very active in my shop to say the least!

 

 

 

 

American Lutherie

 

   Thanks to Steve Denvir for writing this article and interviewing us for "American Lutherie" magazine ... and to the folks at the Guild of American Luthiers for including us in their prestigeous publication! What a great look back at the early Larrivee years!

 

 

 

 

 

Northwoods Seminar

 

What an incredible honour it was to be asked to teach at this year's Northwoods Seminar in Big Rapids Michigan! With folks like Dan Erlewine, Linda Manzer, Tom Ribbecke and Michi Matsuda in the audience, it was a nerve wracking experience to say the least!

To be included with all of these seminal figures in my field was truly gratifying. Thanks so much to Bryan Galloup and all of his luthiers (special thanks to the amazing Sam Guidry)!!!

 

Link to the Northwoods Facebook Page

 



 

 

Wren Guitar Works


I made this custom long-scale (66 cm) guitar for John McMillan back in April of 2014 and was pleasantly surprised recently when he emailed a recording he'd made using this instrument! I put together this brief slide-show of some shots I took while building his guitar and used this beautiful composition as the audio ... check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitars


I had an absolute blast building this Concert Model that features a Master Grade Lutz spruce top, a spec-flipping-tacular set of Cocobolo back and sides, a Laskin Armrest and the RFX raised fingerboard extention. I'm really pleased with the result!

 

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   Here's a brief audio/video file that shows some of the build process on this one. The audio was recorded on this instrument, shortly after I strung it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitars

 

Wood this figured is often a challenge to work with, but the results are spectacular! Trevor from The Acoustic Music Company in Brighton (my U.K. dealer) spec'ed out this guitar ... and I added the custom backstrip and end graft just to make it unique. I'm loving the results!

 

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Here's a quick video/slide-show that shows some of the build process of this instrument. The audio is this guitar being playing shortly after it was strung up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wren Guitar Works

 

   Here's a rare dreadnought Modern Slope MS-1 model that features an old-growth set of East Indian rosewood back and sides, a gorgeous Sitka top, quilted Sapele binding and a Taj Mahal peghead profile!

 

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Wren Guitar Works Wren Guitars

 

  Here's a brief audio/video presentation with clips of this instrument being made. The audio is me playing the guitar just after I strung it up (using a flatpick ... strings are a hybrid 12-56 set as per the customer's instructions)

 

 

 

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