Sponsored by Luis and Clark
Luis and Clark Carbon Fiber Stringed Instruments sold their 1000th cello this fall. This event was nothing they could have imagined sixteen years ago when they started the business. Luis (Louie) Leguia started experimenting in his cellar around 1990 and his wife, Stephanie, thought making a cello out of fiberglass was ridiculous. But when he put strings on his first model and tuned it up, not only did it sound like a cello, it sounded like a pretty good one. By the time he made his third prototype out of carbon fiber, it sounded terrific and they had the idea that selling the cellos was a way to provide instruments for players who couldn’t afford a $100,000.00 instrument. But work was going very slowly as he was playing full time in the Boston Symphony. Then, he met Steve Clark, the president of Vanguard Yachts and the holder of the “Little America’s Cup” for his C class Catamaran. He was enormously helpful in getting things started and perfecting Louie’s molds to make them commercially viable. He also introduced Louie to Matt Dunham, who still fabricates the instruments today.
They thought it would be a fun hobby. The first year, they sold one cello, the next year, three. But the internet was in the process of revolutionizing commerce and soon people from all over the world were talking about Luis and Clark. Violins, violas and basses joined the production line. Now there are owners in over 63 countries and the Luis and Clark has been played in all continents (rumor has it that there is chubby cello player at the North Pole, but he’s too busy to play right now).
Through the years the instruments have been played in a vast array of settings, from the traditional to the extreme, from Antarctica to the Burning Man Festival, from the Congo to Finland and Mammoth Cave to Mt. Kilimanjaro. They’ve played to audiences of 100,000 and to young children in huts in Peru. Music transforms people and Luis and Clark is humbled to hear tales of the extraordinary journeys the instruments have made.