FRETS.COM Field Trip

Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery
© Frank Ford, 6/13/98; Photos by FF, 7/20/97 & 6/10/98

Twice a year, I'm a guest instructor at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix, Arizona. The business was founded more than 20 years ago by Juan Roberto (John Roberts.)

Until his passing in 1999, John was on hand to observe the day-to-day activities of the teachers and students.

Gracing the doorway between two rooms in the shop we see his original sign:

Now, of course the main sign is on the Web. So, do check out their fine website at

It's a real thrill for me to be in the midst of such an enthusiastic group of young luthiers. Roberto-Venn is an accredited trade school and the vast majority of their graduates go on to self-employment or jobs in the guitar industry:

Aki Kawahori exudes the kind of enthusiasm that's typical of the students at Roberto-Venn.

Collings Guitars, Santa Cruz Guitar Co., Fender, Gibson and many others recruit their graduates.

In the photograph below, William Eaton (right) and I are working on a repair project for the students. William, his music and his instruments were featured recently in Acoustic Guitar Magazine. He is the director of the Roberto-Venn School, and a fine luthier himself. The instrument is the original double neck guitar made by John Roberts 25 years ago. It suffered a small crack and several dents in a fall while being photographed the day before my lecture. Not the best coincidence, but a good subject of conversation and instruction!

Here I am, doing a lecture/demo on refretting:

In January 1999, we had a visit from Frank Koonce, who brought along an instrument reputed to be the world's oldest guitar:

That's the school's director, Bill Eaton, looking on from the back.
More about that 400 year old guitar.



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