Monday, May 22, 2017

August 27 2016 - Jeffrey Yong Guitar Workshop

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and Kuantan guitar aficionados were excited as can be. And why not, for renowned Malaysian luthier Jeffrey Yong was about to treat them to a two-hour-plus workshop at the delightfully elegant Rocana Hotel. This workshop was organized by JZ Lim and Kay Shoun of Jammer Music -- kudos to them for succeeding in bringing Jeffrey to Kuantan, no easy feat indeed!

The workshop started off with a slide show narrated by the master himself. Jeffrey showed us loads and loads of beautiful images of under-appreciated local and Asian tonewoods that were usually discarded or used as firewood. Amongst these were mango, monkey pod (raintree), blackwood, rambutan, and even lychee. Jeffrey stressed that local tonewoods were on par, if not better; than "traditional" tonewoods favored by luthiers from the USA and Europe. However, before you take an axe to the mango tree in your back yard, take note that the mango trees Jeffrey is talking about are hundreds of years old and really huge.

During the slide show, Jeffrey also talked about some of the steel string and classical guitars that he had brought down to Kuantan in terms of design rationale, construction techniques and materials used. Following this was a demo session featuring Jeffrey's proteges and friends on his stunning handcrafted guitars, including the "Special Limited Edition" series. The man himself is no slouch on the classical guitar, as he ably demonstrated to an awestruck audience. And no wonder, for Jeffrey used to teach classical guitar full-time before adding luthiery to his resume in the mid '80s.

Then came the time everyone had been eagerly anticipating, a hands-on session with Jeffrey's guitars. Even in these inexperienced hands, they played smoothly and sounded heavenly; for want of a better word. The master took this opportunity to chat with some of his old friends and proteges, including Tele Wong and Kuantan-based luthier Roka Dyer Maker.

All too soon it was time to bid farewell to the master. Come back real soon, sifu.

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