I’ve always been in love with the guitar. One of my earliest memories is being too small to properly hold my father’s Fender Mustang, but still strumming the open strings; amazed at the sound it made.

In 2015, at the age of 19, I went to Spain to take a one month guitar making course with Master Luthier, Stephen Hill, at The European Institute of Guitar Making. I had practically no woodworking experience, but Stephen was able to teach me the traditional techniques and how to use all the hand tools effectively. I very quickly fell in love. Two weeks into my one month and I had already started trying to figure out how I was going to stay longer.

I was able to convince Stephen to let me stay and build a second guitar, turning my one month into what would become a five year long apprenticeship.

For five years I was in Granada, Spain, the heart of guitar making, learning from one of the great masters of the Spanish guitar. While working with Stephen, I made his Model 2 guitars — making more than any of his past apprentices, I worked with him in building his Master Model guitars — the first apprentice to have that honour, and I also taught a fair bit of guitar making at the EIGM. 

I was completely absorbed in the Spanish tradition and tapping into the experience of someone who has been building amazing guitars for over 35 years. 

This apprenticeship allowed me to start building guitars under my own name that are at a very high level; guitars that are truly one of a kind, with wonderful playability and sound, and made for customers from all over the world.

In 2019, while still an apprentice, I started a correspondence with French luthier, Bastien Burlot. Our communication gave me a much deeper understanding of the architecture of sound and brought a fair amount of French influence to my building style, my sound, and my design.

After apprenticing with Stephen for five years, I decided to move back to Canada to start my own workshop. I’m proud to bring the Spanish tradition of guitar making to my hometown, and to be one of, if not the only, luthier in Canada with my level of authentic Spanish training.

I believe that guitar making is not immediately an artistic medium. Shaping and gluing some pieces of wood together and tying strings on it does not make you an artist. Guitar making becomes a form of art when the luthier creates something that looks beautiful, feels comfortable, sounds amazing, and inspires a deep emotional response to the guitarist and audience. 

I aim to make each of my guitars a unique piece of art. 

The most important aspect for nearly all luthiers and guitarists will be the sound the guitar makes, but that is only part of the equation. The look and feel of the guitar is also incredibly important. You see the guitar, then you touch the guitar, and then finally, you hear it. And so, a guitar should be visually beautiful so you want to pick it up and comfortable to hold and play so you want to hear it and continue to play it. While what you hear is the most important, it is also the last aspect of a guitar you experience. 

Yet even so, the sound still remains the most important thing at the end of the day. I put a tremendous amount of thought and care into making the visuals of the guitar unique and personal, but I put even more care into how the guitar sounds. I do not cut corners or compromise on any aspect of the guitar. I build a small number of guitars every year so I can try and achieve perfection in visuals, ergonomics, and most importantly tone.

As a builder, I mix non-traditional and modern aesthetic with traditional and authentic Spanish guitar construction. 

When selecting materials, I prefer to use more sustainable options when I can, rather than endangered rosewood species. While materials such as Brazilian Rosewood make a fantastic guitar, I believe almost all woods can make a beautiful instrument as long as the luthier understands the material’s specific characteristics.

I believe in giving more than just a guitar to my clients. My clients come from all over the world, and I work closely with them through the entire process of the guitar's construction. I am much more communicative than most luthiers and together we exchange hundreds or thousands of emails, text messages and even video calls. I get to know the people for whom I build guitars, as I believe this will result in a better instrument for that person. When a guitarist has a deep and personal connection to their instrument, they make more beautiful music with it.  I educate my clients on every step of the guitar making process, so they can not only see the step by step construction of their own guitar, but they also learn a huge amount of how a guitar actually works, and why certain things in the construction are done a specific way. We also work closely together to make the rosette and other visual details to be completely unique to each client, so the guitar will look, feel, and sound completely tailor-made for each person. This process transforms a simple yet impactful purchase into an entirely memorable and exciting journey, and turns a guitar into something much more.

-evan kingma

The family tree of influence in the Granada school of guitar-making. While it isn't shown here, Stephen Hill spent some time in the workshop of Antonio Marin Montero, so my guitar making lineage can be traced all the way back to him.

Flow chart created by Master Luthier, John Ray.

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