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In Memoriam: Rob Girdis

In Memoriam: Rob Girdis

1953 – 2009

by Rick Davis

Originally published in American Lutherie #99, 2009

When Rob Girdis passed away the Lutherie community lost one of its most talented members.

Rob learned the elements of his craft from Anthony Huvard in 1978–1979, staying on at Huvard’s Northwest School of Instrument Design for a second year as teaching assistant. He began his independent guitar making in 1981 and continued building custom instruments until his death. His guitars were notable for their perfection of detail and for Rob’s artistry in color and form. Rob never took the easy way — plates were thicknessed with hand planes, inlays were individually cut, and the materials for each commission were thoughtfully chosen. Each of his instrument stands as testament to his skill.

Photo by Collicott Photo Illustration.

He also left a circle of students who unanimously praise Rob for his patience and grace as a teacher, gently urging beginners in the art of sharp tools and critical eyes.

Though he was a quiet, private person, he impressed his peers at guitar shows and lutherie meetings with his dry sense of humor and reflective approach. Rob was also an accomplished musician, enlivening music camps, sessions, and parties with his fine rhythm backup and occasional fiddle.

More information about Rob and testimonials from some of his many friends can be found at