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In Memoriam: G.D. (George) Armstrong

In Memoriam: G.D. (George) Armstrong

August 16, 1946 — April 4, 2022

by GAL Staff

Originally published in American Lutherie #146, 2022


G.D. Armstrong of Yamhill, Oregon, was a familiar and welcome face to any members who came to a GAL Convention in the last few decades. He attended at least eight, going back to 1995, and was a Guild member continuously since 1987. He was also a regular exhibitor at the NW Handmade Musical Instrument Exhibit held in the Portland, Oregon, area for many years.

Both photos by Tim Olsen.

George made his first instrument, a cigar box banjo, at age ten, and continued to build and repair instruments for the rest of his life. He had many interests and talents: He was an “aspiring mountain man” as a boy; studied forestry and worked for the US Forest Service; worked as a ship’s carpenter; started a farm as part of the back-to-the-land movement, raising farm animals, vegetables, and honeybees; and designed and built a spacious house and workshop where his instrument building grew into a career.

G.D. built a variety of instruments including dulcimers, banjos, bouzoukis, mandolins, and guitars (from traditional tenors to electrics), and had customers around the world. He was the proprietor of the Newberg Music Center in Newberg, Oregon, where he repaired instruments.

Here’s how a few of his friends remembered G.D.:

“He was a brilliant, funny, and kind man who made some pretty epic bouzoukis.”

“He was an incredible musician, luthier, and human being and was always kind and generous with his time and talents.”

“A kinder, bigger, heart never walked this earth.”

We always looked forward to seeing G.D. at the Guild Conventions. His warm and gentle spirit will be missed by his many friends in the music and lutherie communities. There’s a lovely short documentary about George on YouTube called The Instrument Maker, which gives a little insight into his life and work. Rest in peace, George.