A Tribute to Frank Ford 1944-2023

We’re deeply saddened to learn of Frank Ford’s passing. What a loss for all of us.  Frank was such a dear friend and a ‘pal’ to everyone who met him.

We send our heartfelt condolences to Frank’s wife Joy, his longtime friend and business partner Richard Johnston, and the guitar tech staff and employees of Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto. Frank served on our Program Advisory Committee and as a consultant to the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery for over three decades.

As a guest lecturer Frank traveled to Phoenix to give our students a demonstration on neck resets, re-frets, pickguard replacement and many other repair operations to over 60 classes. We called Frank a ‘performance artist’ as he did these ‘demos’ in real time, while talking through each step of the process.  His knowledge and experience in the world of guitars and guitar repair is truly remarkable.  His tales of repair experiences, customer relations, tool use and everything guitar related was always fascinating, insightful and informative.

The creation and evolution of his website Frets.com is an amazing resource for luthiers and hobbyists. Choosing not to produce a fretted instrument repair book and instead offering his repair knowledge for free, through his website, was and is an exceptional act of generosity.  What a wonderful gift to leave for the stringed instrument world.

Through his dedication to training his tech staff, teaching at our school, his many appearances at the Guild of American Luthier’s and Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans conventions, appearances at Northwoods Guitar Seminar and tag team demos with Dan Erlewine, his writings in Fretboard Journal and many other publications, and all of Frank’s associations and vast network of clients, leaves a considerable legacy to his boundless sharing of information to the guitar making and repair ‘industry’ and community. His partnership with Richard and the creation of their Gryphon Stringed Instruments is legendary, and a real testament to what a music store can bring to a community.

Frank was truly inspirational in his expression, passion and love for the art and craft of repairing and making things. It is hard to imagine a world without Frank Ford. We love you always Frank. You have made such a contribution to us and so many lives. We will miss you, and cherish the memories of our times together.


William Eaton
Director, Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery

John Reuter, Bart Applewhite, Steve Davis, Jim Prater, Robert Manzullo, Mark Allred, Brady Shreeve, AJ Machnes, Joe Vallee, John Lippi and all of the students and graduates of Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery



We are pleased to announce the launch of the FRANK FORD SCHOLARSHIP FUND.  A collaboration with Joy Imai, Richard Johnston, Gryphon Stringed Instruments and the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery to honor the legacy of Frank Ford.  Donations to this fund will allow learning experiences for aspiring luthiers for years to come.