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We are heartbroken to announce that Frank Ford, the co-founder of Gryphon Stringed Instruments, passed away Sunday, December 17th after a brief illness. Frank co-founded Gryphon in 1969 with Richard Johnston because they wanted to build guitars, mandolins and banjos. In a few short years, building instruments morphed into a retail and repair business but the desire to fix, restore and maintain fretted instruments has always been at the heart of Gryphon and was Frank’s particular passion.
Over the decades Frank developed dozens of techniques to get guitars, banjos, mandolins and ukuleles back on the road. He devoted time and effort beyond his schedule at Gryphon sharing what he learned via his website Frets.com and at repair clinics and lectures at Roberto Venn School of Lutherie in Phoenix and at various luthier conventions. Frank had an insatiable curiosity and at any event you were more likely to find him asking other builders questions rather than pontificating on his achievements.
We were fortunate to work beside Frank here at Gryphon. He was unfailingly kind to both customers and staff and going above and beyond the expected was his standard mode. He was a joy to work with and he loved talking about every aspect of fretted instruments, from their history and maintenance to the music played on them. When first-time visitors to Gryphon asked if he was Frank, his cheeky reply was, “I try to be.” As we move into a future without him, we will try to keep this spirit alive and will try to be a bit Frank, as well.
Gryphon is setting up a scholarship fund at Robert Venn in Frank’s honor that will help students attend the school and learn the craft to which he devoted so many years of his life. We will let you know when it is ready to go.