FUNDING UPDATE: To answer your questions, YES! YOU CAN STILL CONTRIBUTE! New fundraising goal, +$2000. Additional funds beyond our $6000 goal will go towards an extensive outreach campaign. This will help to pay for advertising in trade magazines, reaching out to the community to locate and encourage musicians and collectors to add their instruments to the Online Museum, and promoting the site as an invaluable resource for designers, artists, musicians, and PROUD MONTANANS! Thanks to everyone!! Below is a sample of what the rewards might look like.
The Project: User generated and family edited, the Beringer Guitar Museum is an online collaborative collection of the musical instruments created, and frequently invented by Ted Beringer (1921-2006). It will also be home to user generated stories about the man who was not only prolific in his "hobby," but who also fully believed in the beauty of reciprocity of knowledge as a way to better humanity. In his own words "I'm happy to tell anybody anything that I know. Most of what I know I got by experience… and a lot of mistakes. I'm willing to help. There should be more of that in this world. Then we wouldn't be in the shape we're in." If he knew something, and you wanted to know it, he'd make sure you understood it. There were no trade secrets.
The site will be world class yet simple and elegant, just like his guitars. It will be designed and programed by Aaron Smulktis of Talk to the Land, specialist in art direction, identity, and interactive design. He has kindly provided me with some pro bono mock ups of what the site could look like. It will be an interactive timeline of stories and images submitted by you, and your friends, and anyone who owns a guitar of his, or has an anecdote to share. This is done through an interface that Mr. Smulktis will create and be very user friendly. We are also raising the funds to host the website for the next 10 years to insure it's vitality and presence on the internet. http://talktotheland.com/
History: My grandfather, Ted Beringer, got the idea to build his first guitar in 1950 at the Hilltop Night Club in Billings MT, where he saw a man playing a new design of guitar from Fender called the Stratocaster. He asked to see it, and upon inspection said, "I could build one of these." I imagine his interest was peaked because the instrument was an electric guitar, and his business was Ted's Electric, an electric motor and power tool repair shop. He experimented for months building and rebuilding parts and even went so far as to wind his own pick ups, because at the time you couldn't buy them. Eventually, it was completed; his first guitar. The guitar that in his words weighed like a ton of bricks and looked more like a pizza paddle with strings than a Stratocaster... Everyone has to start somewhere. All that remains of that guitar is a photograph. He couldn't ever recall exactly what happened to it, but it seems to have been dismantled and turned into other guitars.
Over the next 50 odd years, Ted built several hundred instruments in the tiny shop adjacent to the humble home he shared with my Grandmother and where they raised their five children. He didn't keep sales records until later in life, so there's no telling just how many of his instruments are out there. He was an outstanding member of both the Guild Of American Luthiers and the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans where he was always open to sharing with his peers. He never built the same guitar twice, there were no assembly lines, no custom orders. He invented countless new methods, tools, and instruments including nylon string archtop guitars, fretless archtop basses, nylon string mandolas (shaped like a balalaika), and an octave 12 string mand-itar to name a few. For Ted every instrument was a new experiment, a new journey of understanding and creation.
Help me share his life and work with the world and fund this project!
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