Monday, February 6, 2012

Beringer Guitar Museum: Now Raising Funds

Help us reach our funding goal and go to our Kickstarter Page!

The Project: 
User generated and family operated, the Beringer Guitar Museum will be a collaborative collection of the musical instruments created, and frequently invented by Ted Beringer (1921-2006). It will also be home to user generated stories about the man who was not only prolific in his "hobby," but who fully believed in the beauty of reciprocity of knowledge as a way to better humanity. In his own words "I'm happy to tell anybody anything that I know. Most of what I know I got by experience… and a lot of mistakes. I'm willing to help. There should be more of that in this world, then we wouldn't be in the shape where in."  If he knew something, and you wanted to know it, he'd make sure you understood it. There were no trade secrets.

Ted Beringer with nylon string archtop guitar.
The Plan:
Raise $6000 dollars through donations on Kickstarter to fund the design and creation of the online museum and web hosting for the next 10 years. Reach out through various channels in the music industry and instrument building world to spread the word about the museum and encourage those who own his instruments to submit photos and information to the collection.

My grandfather, Ted Beringer, got the idea to build his first guitar in 1950 at the Hilltop Night Club in Billings MT, where he saw a man playing a new design of guitar from Fender called the Stratocaster. He asked to see it, and upon inspection said, "I could build one of these." I imagine his interest was peaked because the instrument was an electric guitar, and his business was Ted's Electric, a power tool repair shop. He experimented for months building and rebuilding parts and even went so far as to wind his own pick ups, because at the time you couldn't buy them. Eventually, it was completed; his first guitar. The guitar that in his words weighed like a ton of bricks and looked more like a pizza paddle with strings than a Stratocaster. Everyone has to start somewhere. All that remains of that guitar is this photograph. He couldn't ever recall exactly what happened to it, but it seems to have been dismantled and turned into other guitars.

Over the next 50 odd years, Ted built several hundred instruments in the tiny shop adjacent to the humble home he shared with my Grandmother and where they raised their five children. He didn't keep sales records until later in life, so there's no telling just how many of his instruments are out there. He was an outstanding member of both the Guild Of American Luthiers and the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans where he was always open to sharing with his peers. He never built the same guitar twice, there were no assembly lines, no custom orders.  He invented countless new methods, tools, and instruments including nylon string archtop guitars, fretless archtop basses, nylon string mandolas (shaped like a balalaika), and an octave 12 string mand-itar to name a few. For Ted every instrument was a new experiment, a new journey of understanding and creation.

Join us on Facebook!
Tribute Video made by long time friend Bruce Harvey
Guild of American Luthiers Memorial
Emando: Beringer Manodlin
Classic 17" Archtop up for Auction in 2010