New Zealand luthier
Laurie Williams has been building professionally for 20 years. He lives on a 12 acre property with his family in the secluded Paraoanui Valley in the Far North of New Zealand and works out of his one-man workshop, surrounded by the trees and farmland that have become so much a part of the instrume
New Zealand luthier
Laurie Williams has been building professionally for 20 years. He lives on a 12 acre property with his family in the secluded Paraoanui Valley in the Far North of New Zealand and works out of his one-man workshop, surrounded by the trees and farmland that have become so much a part of the instruments he creates.
In particular, Laurie has become known for his use of ancient kauri. This wood is dug out of peat swamps that have preserved the timber for thousands of years! These logs are the oldest workable timber in the world. The colour and grain, as well as other physical properties of these buried logs, can vary so much and occasionally, some of the rarer logs can produce some of the most uniquely beautiful timber in the world, with exceptional chatoyance and stunning grain patterns. Over the years, Laurie has collected some of the rarest grades of this wood and has the finest examples of this timber for crafting one-of-a-kind custom instruments.
Among the many other species that Laurie works with, are totara, puriri, taraire; as well as his first choice for soundboards, modern kauri. Many of these timbers are obtained through salvage or wind-fall on local farms, and occasionally from sustainably felled trees, although this is rare. In 2006 however, Laurie was given the opportunity to select and mill his very own kauri tree, specifically to use for instrument soundboards. Sustainably managed under strict regulations, this was not an event that comes along everyday. Such was the occasion, that it inspired a documentary film (Song of the Kauri) which follows and records the remarkable journey from tree to finished instrument.
The soundboards, that Laurie uses on his instruments today, come from this Waingarara kauri which are distinguished by their clear bell-like tone and incredible sustain.
Starting his business under the name Laurie Williams Guitars, his craft has grown over the years from acoustic guitars to include mandolins, ukulele, and also the violin family. His output is limited to about 12 instruments each year, and he is a regular exhibitor at the Healdsburg Guitar shows in California. Laurie is knowledgable and easy to talk to, and can recommend suitable models and styles as well as incorporating individual requests into each design, including inlay work.
With extraordinary craftsmanship, rare timbers and exquisite tone, Laurie's instruments are truly unique among the world's finest instruments. Combine that with the story behind every instrument, and they are destined to become the much coveted heirlooms of generations to come.