Interview, Luthier Focus

Interview with Dion James

This summer we had a wonderful talk with Canadian builder Dion James, whose guitars are noticeable for the strikingly minimalist design, where the focus is on the true essential and inherent beauty of the instrument.

Dion is a builder very much of his own making, with his original designs and use of uncommon bracing patterns. But it'll come as no surprise that like so many Canadian and European builders, he cut his teeth in Montreal, learning from and building alongside Michael Kennedy and Jeremy Clark before heading back west. In Alberta, he established his own shop and founded a cooperative, working alongside a variety of artists and artisans, and quickly returned to his roots, carrying on his familial tradition of farming. (All while building incredible guitars!)

Do you feel like the farming informs your guitar making in any way?

"Yeah, it took me a long time to undue the conditioning of—not intentionally, and not that there’s anything wrong with it—but of the conditioning of school life where you go somewhere, you do something and then you leave it behind. I had to return to what I’m more familiar with which is the integration of work and the rest of life that’s the farm life that I grew up on. All of that’s to say, I can’t separate it all. The shop, my home, the kids, the garden—none of it seems like work and it all seems like work. In terms of influence, I would say it provides me with a quiet place and a place where I can direct my mental energy elsewhere. In those moments, I think that’s where my best thinking about guitars comes—when I’m not intentionally surrounding myself with thinking about it, when it’s running in the subconscious and I’m doing something else. I think that the farm and the garden really provides that."

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Dig into our Bespoke focused interview with Dion to learn more about working with him on a custom guitar.

As ever, thank you, Dion, sharing your story with us! Visit his website to learn more about his work:


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