First Friday Exhibit Opening – “18 Strings Over Sedgwick County” Friday, October 7th, 6-10 pm; free and open to the public
Sedgwick County, Kansas has a remarkable history of attracting maverick innovators. One name on this roster is Ralph Smith, developer of the 18 string guitar. An Oklahoman by birth, Mr. Smith served in the U.S. Army and afterward settled in Wichita, working in the aircraft industry and raising a family. Outside of work, Smith pursued many interests including building guitars, specifically an unusual 18 string of his own design, a concept only pursued on an experimental basis by others.
Smith’s success with his guitar designs were so pronounced and praises by celebrity guitarists so great that in 1970 he opened a guitar manufacturing facility in Haysville, Kansas, a community adjoining Wichita’s south side. Financial troubles ended the company after one year, but Smith went on to build many guitars in a smaller facility staffed by his immediate family. Today, five years after Smith’s death, his family carries on the tradition he established.
On view through the end of this year are rare examples of the guitars made by the Smith Family in an exhibit telling the Smith Guitar story.
Deke Dickerson, Guest Curator – an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, film composer, writer, and record producer living in Los Angeles. Dickerson writes a regular column in Guitar Player magazine and feature articles in Vintage Guitar magazine and The Fretboard Journal. He also organizes and host an annual “Guitar Geek Festival” held in Anaheim, California, every January.