Guitar and Lute Workshop

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Guitar and Lute Workshop
Industry Musical Instruments
Founded Honolulu, Hawaii, 1970
Defunct 1976
Products Various Stringed Instruments

The Guitar and Lute Workshop (GLW) was a manufacturer of custom guitars, ukuleles, and period stringed instruments based in Honolulu, Hawaii between 1970 and 1976. The workshop was known primarily for the talented luthiers employed in either construction of guitars, or the musicians that taught at the workshop or that used guitars made at the workshop. Additionally, an independent piano restoration and tuning business operated above the workshop floor and studios for at least two years. The GLW was notable as a nexus of activity supporting native Hawaiian musical cultural discovery during the Second Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s, with key Hawaiian musicians such as Keola Beamer and Kapono Beamer gaining starts in their careers at the GLW,[2] as well as musical instrument restoration for instruments of Hawaiian royalty (of the Kingdom of Hawaii), now curated by ʻIolani Palace. Additionally, the GLW's focus on traditional period stringed instruments was, in part, responsible for the resurgent interest in the viol and traditional luthierie methods within the western United States in the early 1970s.[citation needed]

Establishment and business[edit]

The Guitar and Lute Workshop was started by Donald C. Marienthal, George Gilmore, and Keola Beamer in 1970 and was based in a warehouse building at 1229 Waimanu Street,[3] one block west of the southernmost Piikoi entrance to Ala Moana Shopping Center. A retail outlet to the manufacturing facility was later opened nearby at 404 Piikoi Street. The workshop closed in 1976. The warehouse was demolished ca. 1998 to make way for two large commercial properties at 88 Piikoi Street and the KHON television studios.[4]

Keola Beamer recalls the early days of the GLW: "In my early twenties, I was making guitars with George Gilmore and Donald Marienthal. We had the wild idea we could make nice guitars out of koa and mango wood so we took out a loan from the Small Business Administration and started the Guitar and Lute Workshop on Waimanu Street in Honolulu. People started coming in to ask about slack key. There were very few teachers back then, so I agreed to try it."[5]

Early development of the twin-sound hole guitar is partially attributed to the GLW, with at least two of the twin-hole guitars becoming a signature style for Keola and Kapono Beamer as their musical careers evolved, specifically around the traditional Hawaiian slack-key guitar style.[6] Due to the immaturity of the twin-hole style early on, some twin-hole guitars were returned to the GLW for repair, ostensibly due to distorted tops (sound board) as a result of insufficient bracing under the bridge.

In addition to guitars, specialty instruments produced at the GLW included lute, vihuela, and viola da gamba. At least one of Eddie Kamae's ukuleles was built at the GLW by Brian Ikehara.[7] The shop also sold musical supplies, such as ukulele and steel strings, as well as miscellaneous items such as harmonicas, all of which added profitability to the shop, but which the shop owners did not consider associated with “legitimate musical instruments”.

A very early advertisement for the GLW and its then new retail storefront at 404 Piikoi St, circa 1972. The ad emphasizes both key aspects of the GLW operation: custom instrument manufacturing and musical instruction.

The GLW was known to have produced limited advertisements as early as 1972 for its manufacturing business as well as musical instruction by some of its members; such advertisements were in local newspapers.[8]

Workshop layout[edit]

The GLW studios were noted for being large and open, in contrast to other teaching studios with smaller booths. A small “building within a building” was erected as the office and studio space, and this was adjacent to the workshop floor. The workshop floor, where the luthiers performed their work, consisted of an open area (to the ceiling of the warehouse space) of approximately 1,500 sf, comprising a number of small personal workstations placed along the perimeter of a set of large, open worktables where general construction, bending, and gluing took place. A bank of power tools, consisting of table saws, bandsaws, sanding stations, drill press, etc., was located along the north wall of the warehouse. Wood storage was located on the southwest perimeter of the shop, and due to the variety of tone woods being used, was very aromatic.

Entry into the GLW and studios was made from Waimanu Street through either a pedestrian door, or through a large commercial truck door that typically remained open during the day for ventilation. South of the workshop floor, and accessible through the shop, was a small one-room custom surfboard manufacturer (unassociated with GLW).

Adjunct and associated musical businesses[edit]

An offshoot enterprise of the GLW was Galliard Press, publisher of the Guitar and Lute magazine (beginning with Volume 1 in April, 1974[9]) and various books on classical guitar and lute music,[10] which was conceived by George Gilmore, and was noted as being the last guitar magazine published on a linotype press. The idea for printing the magazine was conceived at the Columbia Inn on Kapiolani Boulevard, a favorite local restaurant of GLW staffers Gilmore and Hedges. The Galliard Press operations were located above the shop floor in the loft area, and adjacent to Hedges’ piano restoration operation. Also notable in the loft area was a storage area containing a large number of Mardi Gras styled costumes belonging to members of the GLW.

Gilmore, a classical guitar teacher at Punahou School in the 1960s, and Sam Kamaka Jr. (of the Kamaka Ukulele company) started the Lute Society and taught evening sessions in guitar and lute construction from 1966 to 1970. Gilmore learned lutherie in Spain (classic guitar construction) and influenced some of the techniques still used today at the Kamaka factory.[11]

A close friend of Gilmore, Ralph Hedges, established a piano tuning and restoration business adjacent to George’s office and studio, and next to the workshop floor. A number of pianos were restored in this area of the workshop, most notably a square piano attributed to King Kalākaua and Queen Liliuokalani, which was later donated to ‘Iolani Palace. The piano is now located in the palace Blue Room.

Peter Coraggio, an early proponent of ARP synthesizers shared studio space with the GLW in 1973, his studio containing two ARP 2500, one ARP 2600, an ARP Odyssey, and a mixing board. The Coraggio studios were on the south side of studio space, immediately adjacent to the guitar studios and guitar showroom.

Related musical venues[edit]

GLW members involved in the local music scene were often found "pau hana" (after work) at venues nearby. One such venue, the Territorial Tavern, was a gathering point for local slack key guitarists, including GLW founder Keola Beamer. Established in the historic Dillingham Transportation Building in 1972, Keola began playing nightly shows at the tavern for $25 per week in a downtown Honolulu location that was otherwise not known for night clubs or musical acts. Kapono Beamer soon joined the act as The Beamer Brothers, increasing traffic and interest in the venue. Over time, the Territorial Tavern became a nexus of musical expression during the Second Hawaiian Renaissance, with the addition of acts such as the Brothers Cazimero, The Sons of Hawaii, Eddie Kamae, and Dennis Kamakahi.[12] GLW guitars were used at this venue, principally by The Beamer Brothers, but by other acts as well.

GLW alumni[edit]

Notable alumni (luthiers and musicians) associated with the GLW include:

  • Beamer, Kapono – Hawaiian Slack Key guitar artist; Kapono Beamer's Website
  • Beamer, Keola – Hawaiian Slack Key guitar artist and GLW founder and luthier (1970-1973); Keola Beamer's Website
  • Brotman, Charles – Luthier; Charles Brotman's Website
  • Ching, Doug – Luthier (1973-1975), noted as being one of the last luthiers to work at GLW before its closure in 1976; Doug Ching's Website
  • Coraggio, Peter – Musician and early proponent of ARP synthesizers, co-located at the GLW studios; Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii; Peter Coraggio Studio Website
  • Doremus, Jay - Luthier (1973-1974)
  • Gilmore, George – Founder and owner of the GLW (1970-1975), luthier, and music professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, publisher of “Guitar and Lute” magazine.
  • Hedges, Ralph – Piano restorer, tuner, and classical pianist and instructor (1972-1973); LinkedIn Profile
  • Huvard, Anthony - GLW luthier (1970-), GLW repairs manager, inventor of neck-straightening heat press[13]
  • Ikehara, Brian – Luthier (1973–1974)
  • Irvine, Kip - Luthier (1975-)
  • Marienthal, Donald C. – Founder and owner of the GLW (1970-1975)
  • Martin, Dey – Luthier; Dey Martin Guitars Website
  • Pong, Randall - Luthier
  • Potter, Bart – GLW luthiers (1974-1975), founder of the Hawaii Forest Industry Association

GLW alumni deaths[edit]

  • George Gilmore died on August 15, 2012 in San Diego, California at the age of 79. Obituary
  • Peter Coraggio died on September 15, 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaii at the age of 69. Obituary


  1. ^ Michael, Stroup (April 1974). "Things of Beauty". Guitar and Lute Magazine. 1 (1): 27. 
  2. ^ Beamer, Keola. "Keola Beamer". Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ Farrell, Susan. Directory of Contemporary American Musical Instrument Makers. University of Missouri Press. Retrieved 1981.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ Song, Jaymes (June 12, 1998). "KHON to move offices, studio on Piikoi Street". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  5. ^ Beamer, Keola. "Biography and Family History". 
  6. ^ Lake, Dennis. "Keola Beamer Artist Model". Po Mahina Ukulele and Guitars. Retrieved 5/7/2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ Potter, Bart. "Eddie Kamae's Uke". Hana Lima 'Ia. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  8. ^ Unknown (September 29, 1972). "Advertisement for GLW". Youth-Unlimited (Newsprint). Honolulu, Hawaii. p. 10.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help);
  9. ^ "Chicago Public Library". 
  10. ^ Gilmore, George (1976). Guitar Music Index: A Cross-Indexed and Graded Listing of Music in Print for Classical Guitar & Lute. Honolulu: Galliard Press. 
  11. ^ "Kamaka Ukulele FAQs". Retrieved 6/7/2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. ^ Bob Sigall (14 June 2013). "Good music, gas shortage helped create a nightbclub". Honolulu Star Advertiser (Newspaper). p. B3. 
  13. ^ Huvard, Anthony. "Home Page". Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)