Cumpiano Guitars        Cumpiano Articles Archive        Make a Guitar with William   

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William in the early 80s working on Arlo Guthrie's Martin D-42













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Side bending on a hot pipe--photo from William's guitarmaking textbook









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Cover of Chronicle Press edition of   guitarmaking textbook William wrote with Jon Natelson




















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After graduating in the late 60's from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor of Industrial Design, William apprenticed in New York City and New Hampshire with Michael Gurian and Michael Millard. He opened his first solo guitarmaking and repair studio in 1974.  Since then, he has personally made over two hundred instruments for amateur and professional musicians in the United States and the Caribbean.  Among his customers: Arlo Guthrie, Michael Lorimer, John Abercrombie, Country Joe MacDonald, the Todd Rundgren band, June Millington, and Joel Zoss.
Awards & Special Recognition
Teaching and Documentation Grants Received
Professional Associations, Memberships & Partnerships




Awards & Special Recognition

1973 "Honor Award of Merit for Excellence in Workmanship"
given by the American Institute of Architects, New Hampshire Chapter 

1978 Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
Request for display of a Cumpiano 12 string guitar in national show, "The Harmonious Craft"
1993 U.S. Patent co-recipient
for compression-molded carbon-fibre composite guitar soundboard
1997 University of Massachusetts at Amherst
plaque given at awards banquet, "for his work in preserving the culture of Puerto Rico through the making of traditional string instruments and undertaking the task of teaching its art and origins to others."
1998 Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
Display of instruments and research, along with student work, to curators of the National Museum of American History





Professional Associations, Memberships & Partnerships

1988 to 1996 Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA)
Co-founder, board president, board member of international guitarmaker's association
1980 to 1994 Rosewood Press
Partner in writing /publishing of guitar-making textbook
1993 to present FibreAcoustics
Partner in new start-up company to market new materials for the musical instrument industry
1990 to 1993 Artists in Resonance
co-founder of local instrument-maker's collaborative
1992 to present Puerto Rican Cuatro Project
Co-founder. Community research project documenting the music and musical-craft traditions of Puerto Rico, focusing on the cuatro--the island's "national.instrument." This effort has received the endorsement/ financial support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICPR, an agency of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico)



1987 GUITARMAKING: Tradition & Technology, A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar,
400 p. textbook, co authored and self-published by William R. Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson

"...perhaps the finest book on making guitars ever produced."(Guitar Player magazine) " unparalleled treasure" (Fine Woodworking magazine) "...the bible of the craft" (C.F. Martin IV, Martin Guitar Company). Three editions printed.

1994 English-language paperback and hard cover rights of GUITARMAKING purchased by Chronicle Books, San Francisco CA, and new paperback and hardcover edition published. Copies sold to date, approximately 30,000.
1980 to present * Over 50 technical and feature articles on guitars, guitar making, strings and string making in:
Journal of Guitar Acoustics
Frets magazine
Guitar Player Magazine
Fine Woodworking magazine
Stringed Instrument Craftsman 
Acoustic Guitar magazine
Guitarmaker, the journal of the Association          of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA)
American Luthierie, the journal of the Guild          of American Luthiers (GAL)

* Subject of feature article, Frets Magazine: "Frets Visits William Cumpiano" August 1987

* Author of  "Manuel Velázquez, guitarrero" article in Houghton-Mifflin Spanish-language reader, "Portales" (published 1997)

* Currently, writer/consultant for Question & Answer column for Acoustic Guitar Magazine





Teaching & Documentation Grants Received

1992 National Endowment for the Arts
1994 Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities
1994 and 1998 Massachusetts Cultural Council
1993, 1994 and 1995 Connecticut Council of the Arts
1995 New England Foundation for the Arts 






Guitar Setup Procedures, lecture before the Guild of American Luthiers, Symposium '88. Boston, MA
History of the European Craft Guild System, lecture before a gathering of the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans, Symposium '92, Lafayette, PA
The Cuatro is My Flag: a social history of the Puerto Rican Cuatro lecture before the Hispanic Students Association at the Five-College Consortium, Amherst College, April 97, Amherst MA
Workshop on cuatro-making at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, November 1998