GAL Conventions

Our 23rd GAL Convention/Exhibition was a huge success! See coverage here.


Our 23rd GAL Convention/Exhibition was a huge success! See coverage here.

Often copied but never duplicated - the Guild of American Luthiers Convention/Exhibition is legendary and highly anticipated in the lutherie community. Guild Conventions bring together luthiers from all over the US, Canada, and the world; of all interests and specialties; of all skill levels, from students to seasoned craftpersons; in a spirit of cooperation and camaraderie for a great lutherie event!

GAL Conventions feature lectures and workshops by prominent instrument makers on a wide range of topics of interest to the lutherie community; noncompetitive listening sessions where members can hear their instruments played along with others in a concert hall; an exhibition of instruments where members have an opportunity to show their latest creations and receive feedback from fellow luthiers; a fabulous selection of lutherie woods, tools, and parts for sale at the tables of the many suppliers who attend (your chance to handpick the wood, supplies, and tools you will use in the next several years); concerts, open mikes, and lots of opportunities for impromptu music; both silent and live auctions that give members the chance to support the Guild with their donations and purchases of lutherie treasures; and a relaxed open house at GALHQ to say farewell until next time.

Lutherie Convention 2014

GAL Convention attendees should be prepared for the most mind-expanding event of their lutherie life! Most people, after attending their first Guild convention, are overwhelmed by the openness and friendliness of their fellow members, and by the wealth of information, contacts, and new ideas they’ve come away with. This is the essence of the Guild convention, and those who are open to it are guaranteed to learn a lot and to have a ton of fun! We produce major articles from our convention talks and demos in order to widen the circle of learning to the entire membership.

GAL Conventions are held in Tacoma, Washington (near GALHQ), on the beautiful campus of Pacific Lutheran University. The Pacific Northwest has comfortable summer temps, natural beauty, and many attractions, and makes a great vacation destination. Our last convention was held in July 2023. See coverage here.


Not a GAL member but want to get more info about the upcoming convention? Sign up for our free e-newsletter below!

Past Conventions

History of GAL Conventions

From the very beginning of the Guild in the early 1970s, luthiers wanted to have opportunities to interact, make friends, and share what they were learning. Our first GAL Convention in 1974 was just an afternoon get-together, held in two locations (Tacoma, Washington, and Newark, Ohio). Although total attendance was maybe two dozen, this was a significant milestone in the history of lutherie in the modern era, long before the many guitar-oriented shows developed. We’ve hosted twenty-one more GAL Conventions since then, attended by thousands of luthiers. Guild Conventions have been a significant contributor to the advancement of lutherie over the last forty-five years.

What People Are Saying About GAL Conventions

Such an amazing time! The archtop and bracing sessions alone were worth the trip! I feel like a better builder just from attending those intense seminars. It was an honor to be among the most talented artists in the biz; life-changing! What a privilege it was to finally attend and mix in with some of the most innovative, gifted, and truly inspiring artisans in the luthier community. I am so recharged.

Gabriel E. Currie, Los Angeles, California

I go to a lot of conventions. I’ve presented and performed at a lot of conventions. You all manage to run such a great operation! But, the greatest thing about the GAL Convention is the people. There were a number of people who I know personally only from having attended the past three conventions. Yet, we meet up and carry on with conversations from the last one, much as if we’d been lifelong friends.

Jim Buckland, Clinton, South Carolina

I attended the GAL Convention this summer for the first time. I really enjoyed the event and would like to thank the GAL staff for a wonderful experience. The presenters were excellent and I learned a lot. Most of my guitar building knowledge has come from reading books and the GAL journal, but seeing concepts demonstrated in person is a far more effective way to learn. My students will build better guitars this year because I attended the convention. I hope to attend regularly in the future. It was a great experience.

Glen Friesen, Waldheim School Industrial Arts, Waldheim, Canada

As a first time attendee I did not know what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The fact that we were busy from 8:30 in the morning to after 9:00 in the evening was a testament to the planning and the amount of time you were putting in each day. I was amazed at the number of new builders. Not sure how long they have been members but they were extremely anxious to gain knowledge. I have about twenty builds. I attended the convention to learn, but I found myself teaching as much as I was learning, and that was quite enjoyable.

Phil Armstrong, Yonkers, New York

I almost didn’t attend this year’s convention, feeling that the cost in time and money was more than I could afford, given my situation as a luthier/repairer/designer/hobbyist. After almost fifty years of designing and building guitars, with my PhD as a know-it-all, I learned from every session I attended; far more than mere facts or techniques, I gained insights into the people and personalities presenting. I reconnected with my own passion and shed, at least temporarily, some of my insecurities, readying myself for the next stage of my work. I left reinvigorated and with new knowledge of myself and my wants and needs from lutherie. I finally connected with some of my heroes. I rededicated myself to being available to up-and-coming young luthiers to whatever extent they may have use for me.

Harry Fleishman, Sebastopol, California

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the convention. We were all mightily impressed with the excellent organization, the friendly and informal atmosphere, and the quality of the educative element of the convention from which I personally gained a great deal of helpful knowledge, especially in respect of production techniques. The facilities and the environment at PLU were superb. I met some fine people, saw some great work, and genuinely felt part of the wider lutherie community. That was very important to me, especially as our work is so often a solitary pursuit from which we need to lift our heads from time to time and look around us. GAL is a fine organization of which you must, and should, feel very proud indeed. Joining it has been for me one of life’s better decisions.

Terry Docherty, Northcumberland, UK