- Greg Smallman Biography, written by Robbie Smallman
Born in 1947, Greg Smallman is a highly acclaimed Australian luthier known around the world for his innovative guitar designs. He is the most revered and recognised maker in Australian lutherie. Greg Smallman has revolutionised contemporary guitar making with his theory and designs.
Greg Smallman started making guitars in 1972. His first instruments were in a traditional Fleta design in spruce or cedar. He quickly realized he would have to offer a lot more in a guitar than even the best of the traditional makers and built his first lattice braced soundboard in 1974. In the late 70’s he produced many experimental instruments both steel and nylon strung.
By the early 1980’s Greg Smallman had continued development of his famous lattice bracing system and in 1981 the brilliant classical guitarist, John Williams, purchased one of Greg’s guitars. Since that time John Williams’ praise and criticisms have been instrumental in the development and refinement of this design.
John Williams has always been a great inspiration to Greg Smallman’s work. Their relationship began in the 1970’s with them both looking for a better guitar: Greg to improve the sound of the guitar in some way, and John to have an instrument with more musical possibilities. John Williams widely acknowledges that the development of the Smallman guitar has produced a more musical instrument.
In 1999 the label changed to Greg Smallman and Sons Damon & Kym. Both sons have been building guitars in the workshop since 1994. Greg’s most famous client is John Williams. Also playing Smallman guitars are Craig Ogden, Xui Fei Yang, Ingrid Riollot, Ben Verdery, Milos Karadaglic, Timothy Kain, and GFA winners Judicael Perroy, Thomas Viloteau, Gabriel Bianco, and Tengyue Yang to name but a few.
In many ways Greg Smallman opened the door for guitar makers worldwide to move on from tradition and find their own way. Musicians at the highest levels now accept that their instrument may be built in an innovative way.
Smallman’s significance to the development of the classical guitar worldwide places him on an evolutionary chart as successor to the heritage established by Torres, and Fleta. *
* Ref: The Twang Dynasty edited by Ron K Payne 2012
- Damon and Kym biographies
Damon has a great passion for understanding how things work. Making guitars with Kym and Greg and constantly searching together for ways to improve the sound is extremely challenging and rewarding. He has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Newcastle in N.S.W Australia specialising in advanced materials and composites.
Kym enjoyed making things from a very early age. He began learning to build guitars with Greg at the age of 16. This has been a great path to continue his passion for building things.