Article by Judy Donnelly

illiam Grit Laskin is one of North America’s pre-eminent luthiers and inlay artists. Since the early 1970s he has built beautifully-crafted guitars, and pushed the decorative element of the instruments by developing a unique inlay style, highly personalized to reflect his customers’ lives and interests. His craft has earned him accolades, awards and clients from around the world. He was interviewed at his Toronto workshop.

JD Your journey to become a luthier began when you became intrigued while watching a carpenter work at your childhood home. What caught your attention?
WGL I think it was everything about wood: the smells, the tactile sense of working with it that you don’t articulate when you’re a little kid, and the tools. I can still take myself back to the carport while that carpenter was working: I had my little tool set with plastic saws and he gave me a chunk of wood to bang a nail in. And at summer camp one of my favourite places was the woodshop. Later, because I had been playing guitar since I was nine, the idea of building instruments was a blending of my two loves.

Image: A tribute to Oscar Peterson: JATP 49 (Jazz At The Philharmonic, 1949)
Brown mother-of-pearl, lapis, ebony, red coral, walrus ivory, blacklip pearl, turquoise
Full neck and headstock approx. 28″
Photograph: Michael Alberstat