We are very lucky to occasionally have a Gilchrist mandolin in our store. Currently we have a wonderful F-5 made in 1979.
Luthier Steve Gilchrist was born in 1955 in Warrnambool, a town in the state of Victoria in the Southeastern part of Australia. His first mandolin memories come from just looking at and holding his brother's old bowl back mandolin. Later on while attending art school and building surfboards, his interest in mandolins surfaced again and he began drawing plans from magazines and album covers of Bill Monroe as there were no actual F-5's available to him for study. Using Monroe's fingers as a scale reference he actually drew plans, built molds, and constructed his first instruments.
At 21 he moved to the state capital of Melbourne where he continued to build instruments, but more importantly, he began getting a lot of work repairing instruments. This, of course, gave him access to original instruments and the quality of his work began a rapid improvement.
In 1978 Steve returned to Warrnambool where he established Gilchrist Mandolins and Guitars. The following year he traveled to the U.S. to gain better access to wood and materials for his work, and to find and study more original instruments.
During his visit he became friends with reknowned vintage expert George Gruhn. At Gruhn Guitars he studied and researched dozens of classic vintage instruments and met many talented musicians that, in turn, inspired a new level of motivation and development in his work. It was during this time that he met his longtime friend David Grisman, who as Steve says," then and now, has encouraged and inspired me every step of the way."
After this intense sojourn to the U.S., Steve returned to Warrnambool to set up a new workshop. He worked diligently filling the orders that had been generated from his exposure in Nashville. Throughout the 80's he continued to supply instruments to Gruhn Guitars as well as taking direct orders from customers around the world.
In 1992, through an association with David Grisman and Dexter Johnson, Carmel Music Co. became the exclusive U.S. distributor of Gilchrist guitars and mandolins. Over the years we have had the pleasure of working with a great number of wonderful and talented musicians including David Grisman, Ronnie McCoury, Mike Compton, Aubrie Haynie, Ricky Skaggs, Buck White, Tom Rozum, Matt Flinner, Andy Statman, Jerry Garcia, Tommy Comeaux, Butch Baldassari and members of the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, G.E. Smith, Evan Marshall, and many more.
Steve lists his main influences as, "Lloyd Loar and all the engineers and craftsmen at "The Gibson" plant between 1910 and 1925."