David Wren gained many of his early lutherie skills as an apprentice to Jean Larrivée. The following is a quote from Larrivée regarding Wren: “He worked for me for five years, and he was by far the very best that ever worked in the shop. He is very, very talented.”
Though Jean is prone to hyperbole and had many apprentices that went on to become Master Luthiers (Grit Laskin, Linda Manzer et al), David Wren appears to regard Jean Larrivée pretty much the same way.
1973 to 1976 – Apprentice to Jean Larrivée
Larrivée’s career started with building classical guitars and transitioned to steel strings by steady requests of local players that admired his work. His early efforts produced steel string guitars with classical guitar shaped bodies and an original symmetrical bracing system. Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn got his hands on an early Larrivée and bonded immediately.
While an apprentice with Larrivée in the early 1970s, David Wren worked on several guitars for Cockburn. The first was a twelve fret classical body-sized steel string. In 1972 or 1973, Cockburn requested a cutaway, which was unusual for a flat-top steel string at the time. The first version was a Florentine cutaway with a Cedar top and Indian Rosewood body that Bruce eventually sold to Gene Martynec. The second version built by Larrivée in 1974 for Bruce had a Macassar ebony body and spruce top.
1976 to 1990 – Toronto
When David struck out on his own he stayed in-touch with Bruce Cockburn and continued to build instruments for him including three different “Wrens”: The first was a Florentine cutaway; the second was a Venetian cutaway with Takamine electronics, a cedar top and distinctive white/green/white marquetry lines around the perimeter of the top (the guitar was burned in a studio fire); and the third and final was another Venetian cutaway with Indian Rosewood body and Cedar top in 1984, later painted blue by George Gray (who did a lot of instrument finish work at the time).
His work for Bruce Cockburn served him well with broad exposure and credibility. Other notable supporters of his work include John Allan Cameron, Garnet Rodgers, Joan Baez and Jackson Browne.
1990 to 2008+ – 12th Fret in Toronto
David Wren became partners with Grant McNeil and joined the 12th Fret in Toronto.
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ⓒ 2008, Leonard Wyeth