Luthier Graham Caldersmith's sweet-sounding OAM

OAM: Luthier Graham Caldersmith. Pic: NIGEL McNEIL

OAM: Luthier Graham Caldersmith. Pic: NIGEL McNEIL

COMBOYNE-based luthier Graham Caldersmith has handcrafted and acoustically designed hundreds of guitars, violins, violas and cellos since 1978.

It is a challenging, focused and rewarding craft.

Mr Caldersmith was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day honours list for service to musical instrument making.

The luthier, with a Masters in fluid physics to his name, has an academic background including research conducted in Sweden.

He said: "When I came back [from Sweden] I thought all this theoretical knowledge is fine but does it make a difference?

"Personally for me, I'm fascinated by the way these instruments vibrate and create sound."

Mr Caldersmith started making musical instruments on his return from Sweden in 1978 and he hasn't stopped since.

He has just completed his 112th violin, started viola number 60, made almost 40 cellos and well over 200 guitars.

"It takes intuition," Mr Caldersmith said about making a quality musical instrument.

"The specific scientific knowledge I have may or may not make a difference."

Psychoacoustics is a factor which could not be ignored, he said, as our perception was one of the big factors at play.

Mr Caldersmith started a violin and guitar workshop in Canberra after committing to instrument making.

His designs evolved with the help of great musicians in Canberra.

The luthier developed the classical guitar family featuring five different sized guitars, many of which have gone to Holland.

That gave composers a new palette with which to paint their music and the classical guitar family expands the amount of music and styles which musicians can play.

"There are some terrific ensembles in Australia that use the new instruments to virtually create new types of music," Mr Caldersmith said.

Mr Caldersmith moved from Canberra to Kendall until he saw a perfect workshop at Comboyne from which he now hones his craft.

He has been a major sponsor of the Kendall National Violin Competition from 1998 to 2014 and each year donated a violin designed for and made from Australian woods.

Czech Republic and UK-trained Michal Prokop came on board last year in a move to involve more than one luthier.

Mr Caldersmith sums up his craft as both artistic and scientific.

"It is really exciting when you see things vibrating and you see where the resonances lie," he said.

The luthier says he is one of a band of Australian makers doing innovative and creative work in classical and folk music.

"There are so many good musicians involved and I see myself as a part of a whole," Mr Caldersmith said.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop