Next year's workshop will be July 12-19, 2020. Hold the Date!

The Mendocino Guitar Workshop is a week-long, all ages, summer intensive guitar retreat for intermediate and advanced guitar players interested in fingerstyle and classical guitar technique, performance, and composition. Founded and conducted by Alex de Grassi, the workshop takes place every July on the scenic Mendocino Coast of Northern California at the Albion Field Station, where the Albion River flows into the Pacific Ocean. Alex and guest instructors share their insights into their unique styles via master classes, lecture demos, one-on-one lessons, and an opportunity to perform in the workshop ensemble.

Mendocino Coast

Intermediate Ukulele Workshop with Alex de Grassi: Fee $150

Saturdays, 10-12pm, November 2, 9, 23 & December 7

Location: S.P.A.C.E Dance Studio, 508 W. Perkins St. Ukiah

This workshop is designed to develop technique and arranging skills for the songs you already know and those you would like to learn. We will work with a handful of songs of mutual interest as the basis for exploring rhythmic variations, melodic lines, and expanded harmonic possibilities; each session building upon what was learned in the previous session. We will work as a group, but also incorporate some “practice time” into each session that would allow the instructor to visit briefly with individuals one-on-one.  There will be assigned exercises and rhythms to practice in the interval between sessions with goals to be achieved by the subsequent session. Limited to 15 participants.

Session # 1 (November 2): Strumming using Note/Chord Values & Durations

  • Utilizing sustain and muted notes/chords to shape rhythm and style
  • Phrasing—learning to shape a musical phrase.
  • Practical application of these techniques to chosen song(s)
  • Exercises and goals for session 2

Session # 2 (November 9): Introduction to Fingerpicking

  • Review from Session 1
  • Basic picking hand technique
  • 2-3 picking patterns
  • polyphonic sound–2 part playing
  • Practical application of these techniques to chosen song(s)
  • Exercises and goals for session 3

Session # 3 (November 23): 3D Sound

  • Review from Session 2
  • Accents, Dynamics, Timbre
  • Leading Tones and Melodic chord voicings
  • Practical application of these techniques to chosen song(s)
  • Exercises and goals for session 4

Session # 4 (December 7): Instrumental Soloing

  • Review from Session 3
  • Shaping a melody
  • Finding the melody in a picking pattern
  • Finding the melody in a strumming pattern
  • Practical application of these techniques to chosen song(s)

Mendocino Guitar Workshop

Mendocino Guitar Workshop 2020

Sunday, July 12 3pm – Sunday, July 19 11am

Albion Field Station, Albion CA

We have been very fortunate to have Grammy award winning guitarist Andrew York join us for the past four years. In addition to teaching the workshop together, Andy and Alex have been performing as a duo for the past several years, and they will continue to do so going forward. We will be announcing 2020 guest instructors soon, so STAY TUNED FOR DETAILS!
Alex de Grassi
Alex de Grassi, Photo by Irene Young

Guest Workshops at MGW 2019

Albion Field Station, Albion CA

Over the years we have been fortunate to snag some great guitar players to do a guest workshop when they are in the neighborhood. Previous guests have included Sean McGowan, Serge Merlaud (w/Tierny Sutton), Ed Gerhard and Badi Assad. In 2019 Badi joined us again along with another amazing Brazilian guitarist, Diego Figueiredo. The two performed on a double bill at the Mendocino Music Festival on Thursday, July 19 and gave guest workshops earlier that day. Very inspiring!
Badi Assad
Ms Assad takes the listener on a personal musical journey – diving deep in to fiery lusciousness….Assad’s astonishing guitar lines and voluptuous vocals abound…
“Diego Figueiredo is one of the greatest guitarists I’ve seen in my whole life." (George Benson)

North Coast Luthiers Exhibit

July 12- 27, 2019

Panache, Highlight, and Prentice Galleries on Main Street, Mendocino

July 18, 4:30-6:30pm Reception with the luthiers simultaneously at all 3 galleries

Guitarists, like other musicians, are perpetually on a quest for an instrument that offers both playability—some might say a great “feel”—and the sound quality that best meets their needs for expression. If they can’t find what they are looking for among the big manufacturers of new guitars, they might turn to a limited production maker, or even order a custom instrument from a boutique builder where they can choose among tone-woods, top-woods, and other specifications within the guitar maker’s range of options. These are the kind of guitars typically shown at exhibits in conjunction with guitar shows and festivals all over the world and some of the makers of those guitars live right here in Mendocino County.

What is a luthier (LOOTH-ee-er]? The word derives from the French word for one who makes lutes—an early ancestor of the guitar—and while the term also applies to builders of bowed stringed instruments such as the violin family, today it is most often used to describe makers of plucked stringed instruments such as guitars, ukeleles, lutes, ouds, and yes, even banjos. Many keen observers of the history of guitar believe we are living in the Golden Age of lutherie, and certainly the quality, quantity, and diversity of handmade guitars being produced today stand as a testament to that notion. The multitude of choices facing a guitar player in search of their ideal instrument today is truly staggering!

This past July, in cooperation with both the Mendocino Guitar Workshop and the Mendocino Music Festival, three of the art galleries on Main Street in the village of Mendocino—Prentice, Highlight and Panache–participated in an exhibit featuring six of Mendocino county’s guitar makers with each gallery showing a few curated instruments alongside other works of art. The six luthiers participating were David Dart, Gregory Byers, Ken Franklin, Rick Micheletti, Steve Porter, and Morgan Daniel. The exhibit featured a variety of instruments including classical guitars, steel-string acoustics, lap steels, electric guitars, and ukuleles.

The two-week long exhibit ran concurrently with the Mendocino Music Festival from July 12-27 and all three galleries joined together to host a reception with the luthiers present on Thursday, July 18 just prior to the Mendocino Music Festival’s guitar concert across the street in the big tent featuring Brazilian virtuosos Badi Assad and Diego Figueiredo. We look forward to expanding the exhibit in the summer of 2020!

Ken Franklin, Luthier – Cerise
David Dart, Luthier – Lap Slide
Gregory Byers, Luthier – Classical
Morgan Daniel, Luthier – T-Style Electric
Rick Micheletti, Luthier – Koa Acoustic
Steve Porter, Luthier – Classical

Guitars in the Village

Friday, July 19, 2019

Participating shops and galleries around the village of Mendocino

Most of the students who attend the Mendocino Guitar Workshop are eager for a chance to play for the public and nearly all of them have been performing in school concerts, coffee shops, competitions, and some have been entertaining audiences professionally or semi-professionally for many years. With that in mind, we introduced the Guitars in the Village in cooperation with the Mendocino Music Festival in 2018, and with the overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback we received, it has become an annual event. Guitar players of all stripes are deployed in shops and galleries throughout the village for two hours on a Friday afternoon, adding a little spice to the already festive atmosphere of the Mendocino Music Festival.

Mutt and Jeff

Alex de Grassi & Andrew York & Workshop Students at the Mendocino Music Festival

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Preston Hall, Mendocino

Alex and Andrew have been performing a number of concerts together for the past several years in a program equally divided between duos and solos. Blending the sounds of steel and nylon strings, their repertoire consists of original compositions and arrangements that cross many genres—from classical, to folk, to pop and even improvisational jazz.

The duo has performed together at the Mendocino Music Festival every year since 2016 when Los Angeles-based Andrew York joined Alex in teaching at the Mendocino Guitar Workshop. A highlight of each concert is a guitar ensemble performance composed expressly for the workshop—in 2019, they premiered Durbin Watson,  Alex’s composition for guitar orchestra. Check out the video to get an idea what to expect. Always something fresh off the page at this concert!

Backstage at the Mendocino Music Festival