Ann Arbor Music Legend Luthier Herb David Passes Away

. July 30, 2020.
Herb David showing off his work. Image courtesy of Herb David Guitar Studios Facebook.

Luthier Herb David passed away at the age of 89 on the night of July 25. His passing was announced on Facebook by former director of The Ark, David Siglin.

Herb David was originally from Chicago, and found his way to Detroit after meeting a Detroit Shoemaker named Sarkis “Sam” Varjebedian. Varjebedian and David met when David brought Varjebedian his guitar for repair. After Varjebedian’s passing, David bought some of Varjebedian’s tools and began working on stringed instruments. 

David was reported to have left his career as a research psychologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit to begin his career as a luthier. In 1963, David was one of four or five instrument craftsmen in the United States who made Appalachian dulcimers. David said in a 1963 interview, “I had always loved music but it was getting so I had no time to devote to it as my research was taking more and more of my time. Then one day I got to be 30 years old and I figured this was the crossroads — it was now or never so here I am.”

Herb David opened his first music shop in 1962 in the upstairs shop of 209 S. State Street, which is now a CVS Pharmacy. Twenty years later, he moved to his iconic location at 302 E. Liberty. The house-turned-studio included many of David’s offerings, from lessons and workshops to stocked stringed instruments and helpful staff who just loved music. His last day of business was March 13, 2013, but he was able to sell his handcrafted string instruments to the public for 51 amazing years. This included a few famous clients, such as Bob Seger and Ted Nugent.

Herb David was an inspiration to musicians and artists in the area. He followed his passions and found his own version of success through helping other musicians reach their potential. From music lessons to emphasising the importance of sharing his love of music, Herb David was an Ann Arbor Legend and will continue to inspire artists of all sorts to follow their dreams.

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