Over the course of his 39 years as a luthier, Tom Ribbecke has become one of the world's great archtop guitar builders and a tireless educator, promoter and spokesperson for the world of hand-built instruments. Sadly, Ribbecke may soon lose the legendary workshop, teaching facility and home that he occupies in Healdsburg, California.
On this week's podcast, we talk to Ribbecke about his vision for saving the property and transforming it into a center where luthiers can share their knowledge and elevate the craft of the guitarmaking even further. He describes a couple of ways guitarists can help him: by pre-ordering one of the Final 25 series of guitars that he will be building to a customer's specs or perhaps by joining him as a partner on the entire facility. Ribbecke only has about a month to secure the land and realizes that it's a long shot, but he's confident that someone may want to be involved in this unique endeavor.
Ribbecke likens the area around Healdsburg -- and all of the talented luthiers working nearby -- as the modern day Cremona of guitars. We here at the FJ hope his vision for world class center for lutherie comes to fruition.
For more information on Ribbecke, his guitar creations or the Halfling model he invented, check out his site here. Or watch some of the many YouTube clips from the reality show based around his instrument company, Guitar Planet. And look for a feature on Ribbecke in a future issue of The Fretboard Journal.
Update: There is currently a Kickstarter campaign to help create the Ribbecke Center for Stringed Instruments. As of March 5, 2012, over $25,000 has been raised but there are still many worthy rewards available in exchange for donating.
Background music is by Michael Chapman, from the newly reissued Rainmaker album.