Mark Lacey–Virtuoso

Mark Lacey. Mark passed away in 2022, just as we were beginning to create this website. We are the poorer for not being able spend any time with him in person, but are grateful for the contact we had with him prior to his death over the phone and Zoom.

Although Mark was Australian-born, he spent the first twenty four years of his life in England. Lacey’s career began in 1974 where he attended The London College of Furniture & Interior Design, which is now part of The London Guildhall University. The college offered a three year full-time course in Musical Instrument Technology.

After college, Lacey moved to Oslo, Norway and spent four years working as a repairman for Norway’s largest importer of musical instruments; Norsk Musikk Instrument Company A/S. In 1979 vintage expert and dealer George Gruhn offered Lacey a position as a repairman and in 1981 he moved to Nashville. Lacey relocated to Los Angeles in 1983 where he ran a custom guitar design shop for pick-up designer Bill Lawrence, and then began repairing and building at another Hollywood guitar store.This continued until 1986 when George Gruhn contacted Lacey again asking if he would work at the Guild guitar factory located in Westerly, Rhode Island. A year later Lacey returned to Los Angeles to open his own custom guitar shop, which was called “The Guitar Garage”. In 1989 Lacey started making archtop and carved top semi-solid body electrics.

In 1995 Lacey moved back to Nashville and began working at home. Subsequently, Mark’s services were also spent as a consultant for Eastman Stings Archtops with three trips to their Beijing factory and by Two Old Hippies to assist with their imported flattops.

The Lacey Virtuoso was an immediate favorite of Ted Ludwig (see his Jazz Guitar Today review of the guitar), who on a conference call with the Archtop Foundation and the luthier praised Mark with his feedback just a few days before Mark unexpectedly passed away. In keeping with his reserved, even shy, behavior, Mark was grateful but unassuming receiving the praise. While his guitar is the ultimate testamentary, it is his quiet appreciation on that call that we think of first as we write these words.

And what a guitar–it is constructed with a spruce top, flamed maple back, sides, and neck. Ebony is utilized on the bridge, fingerboard, headstock veneer, and pickguard. Abalone and pearl are used throughout the guitar on the inlays of the bridge, fingerboard, pickguard, truss rod cover, and headstock overlay. The brass tailpiece features a soap-pierced design and is engraved and plated in eighteen karat gold. The headstock also comes equipped with gold plated Grover stair step style tuning buttons.