The Australian Music Association, publisher of Australian Musician was saddened to hear of the passing of Victorian-based guitar builder and repairer Merv Cargill earlier this week. Merv Cargill was the owner and founder of Cargill Custom Guitars and somewhat of a legend in the guitar industry
After completing an apprenticeship in violin making, learning the finer details of building wooden instruments and becoming a qualified luthier, Merv made the old Australian brand of ‘Pacific’ guitars until he turned his hand to his own custom guitar-making business in 1956 – now Cargill Custom Guitars.
Merv’s attention to detail and immense passion for producing instruments of the optimum tonality and finish made the Cargill name one that is now synonymous with the local guitar industry. From his backyard garage, Merv attracted some of the biggest music names with his reputation in guitars traveling both locally and internationally.
One anecdote Merv once shared with us was, while on tour in Australia Jimmy Page sought out Merv to repair a pickup on his guitar. The guitar was sent to Merv in Victoria from Queensland where Page was staying. After getting the guitar back, Page called Merv personally to express his joy at the sound of his guitar after the work that the local luthier had undertaken. “It’s better than it was before,” Page told him.
The Cargill garage in the bayside suburb of Seaford has become something of a music icon itself – an unassuming and intimate workshop packed with the paraphernalia of over 50 years of music and guitar history. Merv’s son, James carries on the Cargill tradition today.
In 2017 an interview with Merv Cargill was added to NAMM’s prestigious Oral History Archive. A clip from the interview can be viewed HERE
We offer our heartfelt condolences to James and family. RIP Merv Cargill.