Gay guitars!!!? Yep, you heard me right.
Frank Gay's Personal Guitar
|Frank Gay guitar|
Frank Gay was born to French Canadian parents in the town of Marcelin, which is a small city north of Saskatoon, on April 23, 1923.
It was then I set out to find more about the builder.
Frank Gay studied music at the New York School of Music. He was already a qualified watch maker, but his interest lay in music. Frank moved to Toronto to further his music studies under the tutelage of guitar instructor Norman Chapman, who later became his partner in a duo.
R.S. Williams and Co. which was the largest workshop and Canadian manufacture of pianos and other stringed instruments. Frank spent two years working at this company, before setting up his own studio and shop in Edmonton. This was in the year of 1953.
the fancy steel string guitars that became so popular with country musicians. Johnny Cash, Don Gibson, Hank Snow, Carl Smith, Ferlin Husky, Webb Pierce, Faron Young, and Johnny Horton all owned at played Gay guitars.
|Carl Smith's Gay Guitar - CMHOF|
Ferlin Husky. It currently resides in the Mac Yasuda collection. Many who have seen it, mistake it for a Gibson J-200 that was painted with unusual inlay designs that were not just on the head and neck, but included floral inlays on the guitars body.
The sound hole on this instrument is almost triangular, similar to the one found on a Gretsch Rancher. The 3-on-a-side headstock is much different from any Gibson now or of its day.
Unfortunately some of Gay’s early models did not hold up well due to the glue and bindings he used. Subsequently some of the instruments fell apart. Country stars like Husky and Carl Smith had relationships with big name guitar manufacturers.
Ferlin Husky’s guitar, it was repaired by Gibson guitars and upon finishing, they slapped a Gibson logo over the Gay crest.
It was in the mid 1950’s Frank was approached by someone from Canadian radio station CKUA.
Frank was living in Edmonton, Alberta and building guitars in his garage. Word that a somewhat famous luthier lived in the same town as the radio station prompted an interview.
Upon meeting the fellow from CKUA, Frank Gay put on an impromptu concert and played various genres of music, using a different guitar for each. The show's producer was very impressed.
Frank Gay went on to make appearances on CBC and do pop music recordings. He has played concerts and coffee houses. In 1959 Frank Gay founded the Classical Guitar Society, which is possibly the first in western Canada.
|Frank Gay Guitar|
By the early 1960’s Frank had moved on to building classical guitars, using a Ramirez flamenco guitar (given to him by Carlos Montoya) and an Esteco classical guitar as models.
To this day, the late Frank Gay is recognized as an innovative artisan and a major figure in the history of Canadian stringed-instrument making.
Click on the links under the pictures for the source. Click on the links in the text for further information.