New Ergonomics in Guitar Design; with Saul Koll, Ola Strandberg,Harvey Valdes, Joe Ravo, Jeff Doctorow and Ed Keller
Wollman Hall, The New School
65 West 11th Street, 5th floor, New York, NY 10011
FREE, no tickets required
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In recent decades an increasing number of luthiers have addressed the challenges surrounding ergonomic guitar design. Shape, weight and playability are part of this; the greater availability of new materials and manufacturing processes have played a substantial role also as builders use carbon fiber, synthetic materials, laminates and aerospace glues, and CNC milling machines for fabrication. Some controversy surrounds these instruments, as some players enthusiastically adopt them and praise sound and playability while other guitarist insist on more ‘traditional’ forms and materials. The discussion will address these questions, and more- and include demonstrations of some ergo instruments. 

The panel will include Saul Koll and Ola Strandberg, two internationally recognized luthiers who have built cutting edge ergonomic instruments; the New York guitarist, Harvey Valdes, who will demonstrate several ergonomic guitars and join the discussion- and Joe Ravo, Mannes faculty and guitarist. Ed Keller, director of The New School's Center for Transformative Media and co-organizer, will moderate the panel. 

Hosted by the Center for Transformative Media at The New School, with Mannes College of Music


About Ola Strandberg:

Ola built about a dozen instruments (guitars and basses) between 1984 and 1993 and worked at Uppsala Musikverkstad and HBL (the Swedish Charvel/Jackson distributor) as a guitar technician for several years. He also played in a number of local bands. He originally trained to become a mechanical engineer and worked as such for several years, acquiring CAD/CAM skills as well as extensive experience of product development and prototype machining of components, but has since moved on to the software industry. Development of the Ergonomic Guitar System started in 2007. |

About Saul Koll:

Since 1986, Saul Koll has been making unique, innovative guitars using only the finest materials with a total dedication to his craft. Koll guitars are built by Saul and his team in our Portland, Oregon, workshop using old school equipment, methods, and techniques. We source all of our wood from FSC certified suppliers, most of it locally here in the Pacific Northwest. Our emphasis has always been on excellence in design, fine craftsmanship, and the best customer service possible. Saul developed his now-iconic Glide body shape over 25 years ago, and has been using it as the main platform for his guitar designs ever since. The shape and features of Koll Glides are often imitated, but that only pushes Saul to keep innovating. |

About Harvey Valdes:

Endlessly curious about the guitar’s sonic range, Harvey Valdes plays with pushing its potential by highlighting texture, stretching time, and shaping tone. His work has been featured in Guitar Moderne, and his composition, “Listen", was chosen as Editor’s Pick by Guitar Player Magazine. His score for the film Utopians, which premiered at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, had “one of the most long lasting guitar improvisations since (Neil Young’s score for) Dead Man.

About Joe Ravo:

A native New Yorker, multifaceted guitarist and composer Joe Ravo has performed with jazz greats Dave Brubeck, Stanley Turrentine, and Gerry Mulligan and traveled around the world as a cultural ambassador for the US Department of State. For many years he worked in the orchestras of various hit Broadway shows including, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Secret Garden, City of Angels, and Dancin’. In addition to earning a degree in electrical engineering from New York University, Joe studied guitar with Alexander Bellow and participated in the Master Class of Oscar Gighlia at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He studied composition with Rudolph Schramm. When MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was introduced, Joe exploited his engineering background to develop software for Korg USA as a contract programmer. He has served as director of technology for Mannes College the New School for Music for over decade. Joe has served on the guitar faculties of Columbia University and New York University. He is currently on the faculties of the Preparatory and Extension Divisions of Mannes College the New School for Music.

About Ed Keller:

Director of the Center for Transformative Media at The New School, and Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design. Designer, professor, writer, musician and multimedia artist. Prior to joining Parsons, he taught at Columbia Univ. GSAPP [1998-2010] and SCIArc [2004-09]. With Carla Leitao he co-founded AUM Studio, an architecture and new media firm that has produced residential projects, competitions, and new media installations in Europe and the US. His work and writing has appeared widely, in venues including Punctum, Praxis, ANY, AD, Arquine, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Architecture, Precis, Wired, Metropolis, Assemblage, Ottagono, and Progressive Architecture. He has spoken on architecture, film, technology and ecology internationally. Current research seminars at Parsons include Post-Planetary Design and The Radical Future of Guitar. Ed has been an avid rockclimber for over 35 years.

About NYGF Academy:

Launching at NYGF ’16, this new tradition brings together students, instrument makers, composers, audiophiles, discerning aficionados, and master soloists in convivial symposiums devoted to different aspects of performing, recording, writing for, and building guitars. The Academy will be co-curated by David Spelman and Ed Keller, the director of The New School's Center for Transformative Media (home to the “Future of Guitar” series). “I’ve long wanted to expand the educational components of the Festival, and this takes an important first step in that direction,” NYGF Founder David Spelman explains. “Our ambition is for the Academy to become the TED Talks of all things guitar,” says Spelman.