About Shanti Guitars and Michael Hornick
When Michael began building his first steel-stringed acoustic guitar in the summer of 1984, he realized immediately that he had found his passion in the world of wood-working. Woodworking has always been a part of his life, but guitar building, in particular, brought together those key elements that could transform an interest into a life's work. Michael was always fascinated by guitars and guitar music, as well as the beauty of forms created from wood.
The word Shanti ( शान्ति ) comes from the ancient language Sanskrit. The word means peace.
Michael recently completed guitar number 143, but Michael still remembers the thrill of his first instrument. "Guitar making was the avenue for my artistic [impulse] to come out. With the guitar, I just never got tired of doing it. [The first one] took a year and then it was alive. And when I strung it up, I knew that this was it, this is what I was trying to find. Ultimately the whole thing was finding the passion and having the opportunity to go for it. I consider myself unbelievably fortunate."
One way Michael shares his knowledge of lutherie is through a mandolin-building course he teaches each year at the RockyGrass Academe in Lyons, Colorado, "In four days, you get the experience of building an instrument," he says. "The students do their own fretwork, they carve their own necks, they put everything together. They don’t bend the sides or put in the rosette or glue the backs and tops together but get to voice the tops with me do the set up work. We even get some finish on the instruments. It’s real fun because all the enthusiasm and everything that’s going on, as well as the process, is shared. They walk away in a whole different place."
RockyGrass is but one of the many festivals Michael attends. Each year the winner of the Troubadour singer-songwriter competition at Telluride walks away with a Shanti. "Telluride has been really good because everybody knows me; I’ve been a part of the festival forever," he says. "The big deal for me is staying in touch with the people and the players.