Although I do not offer hands-on teaching in the workshop, I am enthusiastic about sharing knowledge to a wider audience through lectures, writings, podcasts and videos.
"The Luthier as Structural and Sound Engineer: How Luthiers Shape Sound with the Soundboard"
In this in-depth article written for Soundboard, the journal of the Guitar Foundation of America, Gary discusses how luthiers shape a guitar's sound by manipulating structural features on the soundboard. Digital copies of Vol. 42.1 can be purchased. An accompanying lecture/demonstration was presented at the GFA Convention in June 2016.
Podcast interview from Classical Guitar Insider. Gary tells guitarist Bret Williams how he got started in lutherie, what it's like to build guitars in the New York City area, a little about how guitars work, and the kind of guitars he builds. Recorded October 2013 and available free on iTunes. Go to episode 18, but also check out all the other interesting interviews of classical guitar personalities. Interview starts at 14:45.
from Soundboard Magazine (vol. 39.4), the publication of the Guitar Foundation of America
Podcast interview part 1 and part 2 with Simon Powis of ClassicalGuitarCorner.com. In this two-part interview, Gary answers a myriad of questions about guitar design and materials, what he listens for in guitars, tips for purchasing guitars, the concept of resonance, action, repairs, cases, the influence of strings and scale length, tuning machines, sound ports, arm rests and more. Recorded October 2015.
Lectures and Demonstrations
1. Controlling Sound presents what real lutherie is about, presenting acoustic and structural concepts in a fun and painless way through demonstrations. The presentation delves into what hand builders do to pull out every drop of sound from the materials and design. This will answer questions such as: 1) what makes a luthier-built guitar sound so much better than a factory-built guitar? 2) why do spruce guitars sound different than cedars? 3) how does a guitar’s structure determine its sound? and 4) what are the current trends in guitar building? This is the most interesting talk for avid amateurs (such as in guitar societies) and college through professional players.
Classical guitars are more than beautiful boxes of wood. How do luthiers maximize their tonal potential? Join luthier Garrett Lee for a lecture/demonstration on classical guitar construction. Using numerous photos, live demonstration of building techniques, and audience participation with wood, he will explain in a fun and painless way the physical basis for guitar sound and the methods used to optimize it. Why does spruce sound different than cedar? How does a guitar top move? Why do handmade guitars sound better than factory-built guitars? What’s a double-top guitar? Learn the answers to these questions and more.
1. Guitar Foundation of America Convention, Denver, CO, June 21, 2016.
2. Bloomingdale Guitar Festival (New York City), Jan. 2013
3. New York City Classical Guitar Society, Oct. 2012
4. William Paterson University Guitar Fest (Wayne, NJ), Apr. 2010
5. New Jersey Guitar and Mandolin Society (Hackensack, NJ), Jan. 2009
2. The Intersecting Worlds of Luthier and Player starts with Gary interviewing a professional guitarist about his/her relationship with the instrument, giving the guitarist an opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the musical/playable qualities of a concert-level guitar and the realities, joys, frustrations of a the guitar as a tool of the trade. The brief discussion is followed by a more formal lutherie talk on how I as a builder fulfill these needs. The presentation explores traditional and contemporary features on classical guitars and how players’ needs influence the type of guitars luthiers build. This talk is more about design, structural and acoustical concepts and less about how guitars are built step by step. The presentation can be modified to include the type of basic info that someone might like to know if they are going to buy a guitar. This talk has been the most popular for hard-core guitarists as well as non-musicians and is particularly inviting for audience questions and discussion.
What happens before the music begins? Take a step back from the concert hall and get a behind the scenes look at the intersecting worlds of guitar builder and player. Join luthier Gary Lee and classical guitarist ______ for a unique evening of live music, discussion, demonstration, and hands on interaction with materials that will give you insights into two intricately connected halves of music making: the player and the instrument maker. What does a professional guitarist require in an instrument and what is his relationship like with his guitar? How does a luthier design and build a guitar to fulfill these needs? Learn the answers to these questions and more.
1. Philadelphia Classical Guitar Festival, with guitarist Jordan Dodson, Apr. 2017.
2. Beau Monde Guitars (Northvale, NJ), with guitarist Matthew Pidi, Jan. 2015
3. Museum of American Heritage Lecture Series (Palo Alto, CA), with guitarist Yuri Liberzon, Aug. 2014
4. “The Future of Guitar and Instrument Design” lecture series, The Parsons School of Design and Mannes College of Music (NYC), with guitarist Frederic Hand, Nov. 2013
5. Yale Guitar Extravaganza, with guitarist Benjamin Verdery, Mar. 2012
6. Wall Guitar Festival (Wall, NJ), with guitarist Christopher Kenniff, May 2011
3. Contemporary Guitar Design was developed for the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Guitar design features are discussed within the historical context of players’ needs, musically and physically, and stretches into cutting-edge elements and building techniques of today.
1. “The Future of Guitar and Instrument Design” lecture series, The Parsons School of Design and Mannes College of Music (New York City), Nov. 2013
4. Confessions of a Luthier gives an inside and personal look into lutherie as a profession and the lessons learned from players and the craft.
A professional luthier wears many hats: craftsman, businessman, acoustician, engineer, musician, research scientist, and sometimes psychotherapist to the player. Join luthier Garrett Lee for an inside look into the world of classical guitar building as a career. Having observed hundreds and hundreds of guitarists play an equally large number of different guitars, Gary has had the unique opportunity to observe how different guitarists interact with their instruments. What are concert players really looking for in a guitar? How does one start building guitars and what does it take to do it professionally? Where do you get all that wood? What is the hardest part about building guitars and is it really possible to control such a complex system? Learn the answers to these questions and more through a different perspective on the world of classical guitar.
1. New York City Classical Guitar Society, Oct. 1, 2015
5. What You Need to Know about Your Guitar, but Were Afraid to Ask is a presentation developed for guitar teachers and undergraduate and graduate guitar performance majors that teaches essential information about owning, playing, and purchasing guitars. 1) What controls action? 2) What controls intontation 3) What is fingerboard relief and why do I need a little, but not a lot? 4) How do different strings affect sound and playability? 5) Why is humidity important? 6) Cases and travel.
1. Yale University, Jan. 17, 2017
2. Mannes School of Music, New York City, Jan. 31, 2017
3. New Jersey City Univ., Jersey City, NJ, Feb. 16, 2017
4. State Univ. of New York, Purchase, Mar. 10, 2017
1. Courses for ClassicalGuitarCorner.com (in production for early 2017).
6. Controlling Resonance and Tone Quality through Structure is a presentation for beginning through advanced luthiers designed to provide an understanding of the physical basis for controlling guitar sound and consistency. Starting with principles of resonance and the structural and mechanical variables that influence it, this presentation provides the conceptual and practical means for a builder to alter a guitar’s voice.
1. 3rd International Forum of Lutherie in Paraguay, Asuncion, Paraguay Oct. 14, 2016