HALLOWELL — To the untrained eye, it may not have looked impressive.

In Hallowell City Hall on Saturday, Joel Amsden removed the neck from an acoustic guitar, then used a plane to make precise adjustments to the instrument and put the pieces back together. Yet the repair is not simple, whether you’re doing it before an audience or in a quiet studio.

“It’s like open-heart surgery,” said Nate Rudy, the city manager of Hallowell, who plays music himself and was in the audience when Amsden made the repair. “He did this phenomenal job with 20 people huddled around his bench.”

Amsden’s demonstration was one of dozens that happened throughout the weekend as Mainers who appreciate stringed instruments converged on Hallowell. The city was holding the second annual Maine Luthiers Exhibition & Music Showcase, a weekend-long event that featured performances, workshops and an exhibit of Maine-made stringed instruments.

The word “luthier” originally referred to lute makers but now applies to anyone who makes or repairs stringed instruments. Amsden, who runs Kennebec Instrument and Amplifier, gave his demonstration at City Hall, where a series of other programs were held from Friday evening to late Sunday.

Multiple other venues participated, including the Harlow Gallery and several local bars. The exhibit of instruments, which was held at the Harlow Gallery, included everything from an electric guitar whose body resembled a fish to cellos and violins that were marketed for tens of thousands of dollars.

By midday Sunday, more than 100 passes had been sold, and Rudy estimated turnout was about four times larger than last year.

Musicians of all ages found ways to participate in the event. Early Sunday afternoon, young kids from a group called the Pineland Fiddlers performed. Before they hit the stage, a 19-year-old from Farmingdale, Anna Schaab, gave a presentation about her own successful effort to build a violin, culminating in a short performance.

Schaab played the violin off-and-on from the time she was 3 and now studies engineering and physics at the University of Maine in Orono. Those two passions, engineering and music, came together late in high school when she decided to take on the challenge of making her own instrument.

She started with a kit and worked under the guidance of an instructor in Brunswick. The steps included using knives, chisels and planes to shape the violin’s body from pieces of maple, making a series of precise measurements to ensure the neck would fit into the body and applying just the right amount of varnish to give the instrument the desired color and sound.

“It’s amazing, just knowing that I put this together and enjoyed it,” Schaab said, adding that she hopes to make another violin using tools available at the university.

In its second year, the Maine Luthier Exhibition & Showcase received funding from several different sources, including area businesses and a grant from the Maine Arts Commission. It was timed to happen on Maine Craft Weekend, a statewide event.

The City Council backed the event, he said, because it understands that promoting the arts can help attract visitors and develop the local economy.

He pointed to government data that shows the value arts can bring to a state. Last year, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis found that arts and culture contributed more than 16,000 jobs and $764.9 million in worker income to the Maine economy in 2014.

At least one local establishment saw an uptick from the event. Deborah Fahy, executive director of the Harlow Gallery, estimated more than 200 people came to the exhibit of stringed instruments on Saturday — compared with 20-40 people who usually come on weekend days.

“It’s been a true partnership between the cities and business,” Fahy said.

There was another cause for celebration in Hallowell this weekend: two-way traffic recently returned to Water Street after many months of construction.

While the project was not as disruptive as the city had feared, Rudy said, “For some businesses and restaurants, this is a chance to send a strong message that Hallowell is back to full steam.”

Next year, Rudy added, he hopes even more people come.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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