Grit or William (Norman) Laskin. Guitar builder, singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, b Hamilton, Ont, 23 Aug 1953. He is self-taught as a folk instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin, concertina, Northumbrian small pipes, etc) and apprenticed 1971-3 as a luthier with Jean Larrivée. Establishing a studio in Toronto in 1973, he has produced an average of 20 to 24 guitars a year. His instruments, signed 'William Laskin,' have been acquired by Tom Chapin, Bill Garrett, k.d. lang, Owen McBride, Paul Mills, Ben Mink, Garnet Rogers, Stan Rogers, Claudia Schmidt, José Valle ('Chuscales'), and others. He also has made a set of tenor mandolins for the Shevchenko Musical Ensemble.
Laskin is the author of The World of Musical Instruments: A Guided Tour (Oakville, Ont, 1987), which led to the exhibition 'Handmade for Music,' organized by the Ontario Science Centre and seen 1988-9 in other centres in the province. He has also contributed articles on guitar making to the Canadian Composer, Guitar Canada, Fine Woodworking (US), and Woodworking International (Great Britain). He was a founder in 1988 of the international Association of String Instrument Artisans.
Concurrently, Laskin has pursued a secondary career as a performer under the name 'Grit' Laskin. In 1971 he became a member of the Friends of Fiddler's Green, an informal association of Ontario folksingers and instrumentalists in the British traditional style (Tam Kearney, Alistair Brown, Ian Robb, Lawrence Stevenson, David Parry, Jim Strickland, etc) who performed at the Fiddler's Green folk club in Toronto 1970-88 and at folk festivals in Canada and the USA. Laskin, whose original songs include many parodies (eg, 'The Photographer,' recorded by Pete Seeger), has also appeared on his own in Canadian and US folk clubs.