- acoustic guitars
Robert Girdis grew up in Santa Clara, California. When he was in his early teens, his older brother sat him down and told him to listen to a recording of Doc Watson playing "Black Mountain Rag". It was to become a primer for Robert's musical tastes and soon he was seeking out music of other roots-based artists, which ultimately led to a desire to learn to play the guitar. His first guitar was a 12-string which as Girdis recalls "…it had impossibly high action, so I strung it with only six strings and began to learn some chords". After a few years of struggling along with this guitar, his brother found a used 000-18 in a friend's music shop, and his family presented it to him as a gift. Robert attended West Valley College in Saratoga, Ca. where he studied Psychology and Electronics. It was not until he saw an ad in Pickin' Magazine a few years later about making musical instruments that he decided to go in a different direction and enrolled in the school of life, music, and woodworking.
Robert Girdis began his studies in guitar making in 1978 under the guidance of Anthony Huvard at the Northwest School of Instrument Design in Seattle. In a one-year program, all elements of the craft were taught. The course started from the drawing board through to the completion of three instruments built mostly by hand.
After the school year, Girdis was invited to stay on as a teaching assistant for one more year. In 1981 he relocated to Guemes Island in northern Washington State and opened his own shop, splitting his time between building commissioned guitars and guitar repair work. He began to show his work annually at The Northwest Folklife Festival. It was here that he met Ed Littlefield Jr., who commissioned a guitar for his recording studio, Sage Arts in Arlington, WA. Littlefield was so pleased with his guitar that he commissioned guitars for each member of his band, the newly-formed Marley's Ghost. Girdis' work also gained prominence after being featured in Frets Magazine in articles about the artistic aspects of lutherie. Relocating back to Seattle in 1990, Girdis built his own custom-designed workshop behind his home where the mainstay of his business continues to be building custom acoustic guitars on commission.
Girdis guitars are known for their big sound and exquisite detail. Rob's willingness to try new ideas, use untried woods, combined with an understanding of the nuances of design and construction that can tailor a guitar to individual style specifications kept Girdis with a steady flow of orders for many years.
When Rob Girdis passed away in 2009 the Lutherie community lost one of its most talented members.
Sources: www.girdisguitars.com [in 2006], G.A.L. in memoriam Rob Girdis 1953 - 2009