MUSIC MAKER: Graham Long holds one of the guitars he has made
MUSIC MAKER: Graham Long holds one of the guitars he has made Greg Bray

5000-year-old timber used to make Graham's guitar

WHEN you're working with timber that's over 5000 years old you don't want to make any mistakes.

Fortunately, Gladstone guitar maker Graham Long is extremely careful.

"I've been called obsessed but I prefer the word perfectionist," he said.

"I admit that everything I do becomes eventually becomes an obsession."

"But I'm always mindful that my instruments will be around long after I'm pushing up daisies.

"They'll last a few hundred years so you don't really own them, you're just the current custodian."

 

For 13 years, Graham has been making instruments in his shed.

"I've always been interested in woodwork, my father was a carpenter then became a radio technician," he said.

"I was an electrician for 40 years, then got into carpentry."

Since he retired Graham has been able to pursue his hobby in between travelling.

"I've got time now to really enjoy making instruments and I'll make around 13 instruments a year," he said.

Graham has produced numerous ukulele's, banjo's, mandolins, bazouki's and guitars.

"I get requests for lots of different things, personal touches or designs," he said.

"People often tell me they want one of my instruments because they know I'm obsessed with the quality."

"The sound is the most important thing then play-ablity but looks are also very important."

The materials Graham uses are as unique as his instruments.

"One guitar is made of ancient English oak that's over 5000 years old," he said.

 

MUSIC MAKER:
MUSIC MAKER: Greg Bray

"I've also used Indian ebony, American curly maple and English yew.

"But I prefer using Australian timber like gidgee, camphor laurel, mulga and even gum tree."

Graham has also sourced Huon and King Billy pine wood from Tasmania.

"The pine is salvaged from Macquarie Harbour, you're not allowed to cut it down because it's so slow growing," he said.

He holds up a ukulele, "The wood in this was a seedling when Jesus was a boy."

Depending on detail, inlays and finish it can take Graham 200 hours to make a ukulele and up to 300 hours for a guitar.

 

MUSIC MAKER:
MUSIC MAKER: Greg Bray

Each instrument will have up to $800 worth of materials in it.

"There's a lot of sweaty palm moments, but if I make a mistake and can't turn it into a feature, then it goes into the bin and I'll start again," he said.

His next project: "My wife's been asking me to put up a shelf for six months," he said.

She doesn't need reminding that Graham can't rush perfection.

To view Graham's work visit his website

     


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