Gander Guitars take Winnipeg by Storm!

Hello Guitar Aficionados from around the globe!

I'm Ray Gander and, all modesty aside, I've been told by several musicians that I make the "best guitars they have ever played"...but to be honest, I would have to practice a LOT just to achieve mediocrity as a player. As I often tell people "the mechanic doesn't drive the race car". I can set up the strings, frets, intonation,  playability, etc. to perfection but to hear it played the way it was intended to play, I have to put it in the hands of a real musician.
Because of that I recently took my most recently commissioned creation... affectionately nicknamed "The Gandervarius" (a custom built Libra for Guy Longo)... into several of the local music stores in Winnipeg. 

The Gandervarius - a custom Gander Libra

The day started with a trip to a long established music store nearby named St John's music. When I opened the case and they saw the instrument for the first time...they were more than eager to volunteer to test and review it! The first fellow looked at it.... said "Wow!!!", "Cool!!!", "Awesome!!!" several times...and then suggested that the strings might be

St. John's Music

too close to the frets to play cleanly. I said that was easily fixed by raising the bridge but would they mind trying it the way it was. One of the sales reps, Andy Findish said he would be happy to play it for a minute. As soon as he started to play, I knew the guitar played as good as it looked so I relaxed and listened. He played considerably more than a minute while the rest of the staff listened in amazement. His comments were 100% favourable about tone, feel, sustain, etc. and he couldn't believe he could do such "clean string bends on such a low action neck" ...let's just say he loved the guitar!! I asked if he would write down a couple of comments that I could use as quotes and he gave me the best quote I could have imagined. He said "just say what you want, and say that I said it... because I would agree with anything nice said about this guitar"!
Thank you Andy.  

At a nearby music store, that was new to me, called Quest Musique,  the very helpful sales rep said he was more of a bass player and asked a young customer if he wanted to try my guitar. The young musician and his young pretty girlfriend said they had been watching me talk to the

Quest Musique Winnipeg

salesman and were hoping to get a closer look at the guitar. The young fellow had nothing but positive things to say as he played some great music including some blues and rock etc. while his girlfriend pointed out various things she thought were beautiful about the guitar and saying some very flattering things about the guitar and my abilities as a luthier... oh to be 40 years younger!

Mother's Music Store

The "Gandervarius" received many more favorable comments at one of the city's larger music stores; however, I was told it was strictly off the record because of conflict of interest with their suppliers. Let's just say, two of my favorite Winnipeg music stores are Mother's Music and Long & McQuade.

They are both helpful and pleasant places whenever I go there.

The day of this little trip, one of the stores was very apologetic and pleasant about being too busy to try the guitar at the moment and said I could wait if I wanted. I took a look at the store full of customers

Long and McQuade

and decided to go on to the next one. That store was also busy but after a minute or so the "head guitar guy" said he could spare a couple of minutes to play it for me. After a few minutes of playing which included some two handed, middle of the neck, tapping type of playing he made the comment that the guitar had a "better neck than my own PRS...but don't quote me on that because we're a PRS dealer". He then called over a customer to try the guitar. After playing the Libra for a couple of minutes he said "I can't believe the great tone and how clean this guitar plays...and the strings are even closer than on my guitar" at which time the salesman said "yah...and he plays a Steinberger"....thanks guys.

March 19, 2008 (Oshawa, ONT)

“If God were a luthier…. He would most inevitably be envious of one Ray Gander.

What can I say....? I am at a loss for words to express the sheer magnificence of this instrument. It surpasses all my expectations to the nth degree!

Let me take a moment and describe the situation the day I received “The Gandervarius”. I came home to discover that UPS had delivered a ruggedly constructed case to my door. I carefully put the case on the table and started to open the case. The first thing I noticed was how well the case was constructed... this was no slap together crate! I took apart the lid of the case to reveal several layers of packing materials of various densities. Slowly but surely we pulled back the final layer... and I swear to God.... I thought I heard Angels sing. We all gasped out loud.... the very beauty of the instrument radiated light from within the case. I kid you not Ray.... we all froze not knowing what to do. Here before me was what I had dreamed about.... and the best of my dreams paled by comparison. So rare in life are there moments where reality exceeds expectations..... This was undeniably one of them!

I slowly eased it out of its bed and I held it in my hands..... I couldn't speak..... it was soooo beautiful. All the photos you had sent me... paled in comparison to the beautiful guitar that lay before me. I placed it down gently on the foam liner and reached for the camera. All of my friends were just as eager to see this exquisite instrument as I was… and I couldn't get my hands to stop shaking!

Gander Shipping

Gander Shipping Materials

Gander Guitars carefully packed!

I turned the instrument over and my heart skipped a beat. Here was the satin neck with the ebony feature I had seen in so many photos... but looking at it felt like I had never seen it before. The neck was so exquisite... so delicate... yet it felt so structurally strong...that it would withstand whatever stress was placed upon it. I slowly moved my hands along the sculpted treble clef and was amazed at the finish. Silk?? Satin??? I couldn't find the words to describe the finish...

The beautiful Gander Tremolo

I moved to the peg head and again shaking... took photos as I moved along the neck. It was perfection incarnate.... sheer genius without equal.... the ebony down the centre.... the sculpted lines.... it was simply beyond description. Much to my total delight, I saw a detail that had hitherto been unknown to me… a Canadian Dime at the base of the tremolo arm. Incredible!

Every custom made Gander is personalized with Ray's own signature!

When I saw the personalized inscription on the guitar.... I nearly wept. What can I say that would express how grateful I am for this opportunity you have given me to own this incredible piece of musical art??????
Thank you my good friend... thank you."

Guy Longo
Gander Fan for Life!

Ray Gander
Ray Gander / Gander Guitars 
"The following is an unexpected email from Guy Longo...let's just say, it "choked me up". We have become friends over the period of time his guitar was being built and will likely remain good friends for life. I have come to value his opinion on a number of things. A couple of the custom features were his requests and he has given me the go-ahead to use them on future Gander Guitars. One in particular was the Maple Leaf for the twelfth fret marker. He and I are both proud Canadians!!"
That pretty much wrapped up a satisfying day of "testing". I now knew I could send "The Gandervarius" to Guy Longo, confident that impartial musicians across my home town were more than a bit envious that they weren't the recipients of this finely crafted instrument."

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