Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

The real sound of cool

Nothing, absolutely nothing, lights David Gilmore’s fire like hearing a really good guitarist strumming one of his handmade instruments.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, lights David Gilmore’s fire like hearing a really good guitarist strumming one of his handmade instruments.

“There’s nothing cooler than hearing one of your guitars being used by somebody who really knows what he’s doing,” said the owner of Gilmore Guitars of Red Deer.

Fortunately, some very seasoned guitarists have purchased and now play his locally-made six-stringers.

They include Tom Wilson of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (and formerly Junkhouse), Dan Walsh, who used to play with Fred Eaglesmith’s band The Flying Squirrels and who has three of his guitars, Ontario singer/songwriter Brock Zeman, and local performers Levi Cuss, Bradley Abel, and Jesse Roads.

“I’ve sold guitars as far away as Ireland,” said the local craftsman. But his word-of-mouth sales have mostly come from across Canada.

Gilmore, who studied guitar making in Saskatchewan in the mid-1990s, makes every part of his unique instruments himself — from hand-planing the guitar necks and using a jigsaw to cut narrow slots for metal frets, to creating a hidden support system for the wooden guitar faces.

“With the string tension, there’s 150 pounds of pressure across here,” said Gilmore, who noted all guitars could “implode” without internal supports.

As well as not using an assembly line or computerized milling process — (“I do everything by hand,” said Gilmore) — he also doesn’t use veneers.

He prefers working with solid woods, such as African mahogany, Sitka spruce, western red cedar, ebony and maple.

Each of his acoustic guitars take about 150 hours to complete, and each electric guitar requires 90 to 100 hours of labour, so they respectively start selling for $2,500 or $1,200 each.

Gilmore said this is far below what many custom guitar makers charge, but “I don’t have the brand name awareness yet.”

He believes his main customers have, so far, been singer/songwriters and veteran guitar players because they most appreciate the quality and subtle sound distinctions.

“Every guitar has a personality.”

The 52-year-old spent the previous three decades working in radio sales and D.J.-ing — much of that time at the local stations CKGY and Z-99.

But his affiliation with music actually started when he was a toddler.

“I used to play my mom’s guitar like a stand-up bass,” he recalled, with a chuckle.

After leaving the family farm near Weyburn, Sask, at age 18, Gilmore played guitar in a rock band. He said he might still be doing it, except the drummers kept quitting. “It was really hard to keep personnel . . . ”

He later took a break from his radio career and studied, with his wife Adrienne’s blessing, at the Timeless Instruments lutherie (string instrument making) school in a fairly remote part of Saskatchewan, north of Moose Jaw.

The joke goes that Tugaske, Sask. is halfway between Eyebrow, Sask, and Elbow, Sask. “which makes it about the armpit,” said Gilmore.

He made guitars as a hobby for many years after taking the 10-week program, but decided to go professional by opening his shop three years ago.

One of his most popular styles is called the Model A, as a tribute to Adrienne for all her support.

Gilmore said sales of original guitars at his shop at Bay 6, 4676-61st St. in the Riverside Industrial Park are slowly increasing, with 12 handmade instruments sold last year and 16 projected for this year.

“You definitely feel a sense of accomplishment everyday.”

He also offers a limited selection of factory-made new and used guitars for sale, and does guitar repairs.

Sometimes all of his musical passions come together when house concerts are held at the shop, with live performances from musicians touring through Alberta.

Gilmore also records podcasts, available on his website, of various professional guitarists playing his handmade instruments.

For more information, please visit, or email

Just Posted

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Red Deer officials will allow Calgary to trial alcohol in parks

The result could determine if local rules are relaxed

Red Deer city council could provide more clarity around closed-door meetings, says review

Confidential matters were found to be handled appropriately by city

Special lift improves Lacombe patients’ therapy

A new mobility lift is helping physical therapy patients at Lacombe Hospital… Continue reading

Red Deer group is pushing to create a local ‘international village’ to promote unity

A city made up of immigrants has no place for intolerance, say group members

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Canadian tattoo artist inks Toronto skyline on Blue Jays pitcher Stroman

Marcus Stroman found a way to show his appreciation for Toronto when… Continue reading

Most Read