Young Vancouver guitar maker’s niche work shines at international show – British Columbia

It’s tempting to call Meredith Coloma an overachiever but to do so would likely discount the ambition, dedication and talent that took her from professional musician to internationally-renowned guitar maker before her 19th birthday.  

The Vancouver-born luthier apprenticed under the likes of Roger Sadowsky (whose clients include Prince, Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen) in her mid-teens before developing her own niche style.

“There’s nothing like the sound of a sharp chisel or plane crossing wood grain, it’s just so therapeutic,” Coloma told Sheryl MacKay, host of CBC’s North by Northwest.

Now 27, she’s among more than 80 other craftsmen and women who are in town for the first ever Vancouver International Guitar Festival.

One of Coloma’s custom pieces using classic Vancouver Canucks colours incorporated into the design. Colour and non-traditional joinery are constants across her work. (Meredith Coloma)

Working with masters

While studying acting in New York, Coloma would spend evenings browsing and playing in a small violin shop.

Though she communicated with the shop’s owner, who spoke only Yiddish, through hand gestures and nods, she started to help in the back of the shop, where the instruments were made.

When the time came to leave New York, her teacher slipped her a piece of paper with a list of teachers and schools to consider, which lead her back to B.C. for a guitar making course.

At only 16-years-old, while touring as a professional musician, Colomo noticed how prolific Sadowsky’s instruments were amoung her peers and reached out to the guitar and bass maker who wasn’t accepting apprentices at the time.

He told her to pop by “if you’re ever in New York;” she was on a plane immediately.

At Sadowsky’s shop, Colomo was immediately taken in by the smell of maple wood, the necks of bass hanging on the wall and persuaded Sadowsky to take her on as a student the very next day.

What she learned there…

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