Q&A with luthier Scott Wise

by | May 23, 2023 | Latest news | 0 comments

You’ve all heard of Scott Wise, musician, stringed instrument maker, and luthier of the annual Folkworld Fairbridge raffle guitar. We sat down with him recently to learn a little more about his creative process and his long history with the festival.

Tell us how you got involved with making the annual first-prize handmade guitar for Fairbridge Festival?
Fairbridge Festival was started by Max Klubal and his then partner, Sally Grice, who also instigated the idea of an Australian wood guitar as a fundraising raffle prize. However, as Sally recently reminded me, it was actually about two years before the Fairbridge Festival officially begun, at the WA Folk Federation Festival in Toodyay, which had been running many years through the 1980s. I was a regular performer in various bands and duos at the Toodyay festival. Ever a traditional folk bloke, Max thought an all-Australian guitar was the way to go. I designed an instrument based on many guitars I had seen played by many fine acoustic musicians since the late 1960s.

When did you start your career as a luthier?
I have been building guitars since 1978 repairing them since 1973.

Tell us about the first guitar you made for the raffle?
It had Jarrah back and sides, probably the first with this selection of woods ever built, a Huon Pine top, Queensland Maple neck and a Wandoo fingerboard. It also had a Jarrah burl rosette around the soundhole.

Have you always donated your efforts?
The value of the first guitar was about $2000, as I remember, and I was paid half-price for it. However, the raffles were very successful, and I continued making the first prize handmade guitar’s. In the mid-90s I offered to donate my work ongoing. It seemed such a worthy cause for me to support. The folk scene in WA had supported my musical efforts for so many years and it was a way I could put some real value back into that nurturing environment.


What kind of guitars have you made for the Festival?
When I started making the guitar for Max, I was only making a couple of steel string models and the Fairbridge guitar became my Model 3, a very versatile mid-sized steel string. I have made lots of them. In the last 15 year I have made several different models for the festival as my range expanded. I have pictures of many of them.

How is the building going of the current guitar in the raffle?
It’s going well and will be finished in a few weeks time. You can follow its journey on Facebook where I put up regular posts and images of its creation. [FOLLOW THE JOURNEY HERE].

Support the FolkWorld/Fairbridge Festival annual fundraising raffle and go in the running to win a handcrafted Scott Wise guitar. Tickets are just $5 and there is only 4000 (in total) available.

The raffle closes on June 16th and is open to WA residents only.