Since childhood I have been surrounded by musical instruments. I often sat in guitar cases as a kid while my parents played old time music, and I learned to play guitar from my dad. I have always loved visual art as well and eventually my curiosity with creating objects turned into experimenting with making simple instruments with clay and wood. In 1998 a friend showed me the guitars he’d made while attending the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. Seeing a guitar made by one of my peers was really eye opening and I knew immediately that I had to check this place out. This was the connection between art and music that I had been looking for. I took a semester off from college and drove out to Phoenix to make some guitars.
Roberto-Venn laid the groundwork for my now ten-year devotion to working with my hands while repairing and building guitars. Having five uninterrupted months to learn about lutherie was an amazing experience. I left with two completed guitars and the knowledge that I needed to start creating my own instruments. Since graduating I have been fortunate enough to work with Roger Sadowsky, Joe Zon, and Gary Brawer.
After moving to NYC in 2001, I began working at Sadowsky Guitars. Roger Sadowsky stresses the importance of good fretwork, and having a properly trued fingerboard as the foundation of great instrument. I enthusiastically took on all aspects of work in this small production shop, starting with body sanding and installing, leveling, and polishing frets. I soon started the assembly and set-up of basses and guitars, and bringing instruments to completion. Over the course of the next year I moved into the Production Manager position, oversaw the work of other employees, and inspected each instrument before it was shipped out to the customer. Having over 200 instruments pass through my hands each year really focused my attention to detail, and the repetitive nature of this production process allowed for the mastery of many lutherie skills. Under Roger’s guidance I also collaborated on prototyping projects for Will Lee and Jim Hall.
Upon moving to San Francisco, CA in 2006, I started working with both Zon Guitars and Gary Brawer Guitar Repair. At Zon I learned a lot about the finishing process and the construction methods of a smaller custom shop where everything is built under one roof. Workflow was tightly scheduled and the use of jigs and fixtures aided in the speed and accuracy of each procedure. Joe Zon’s unique carbon fiber neck was a marvel unto itself, providing stability and tonal focus to each instrument. Going to the NAMM show in 2008 to see the basses we’d made being played by Michael Manring was a real pleasure.
I also began working with Gary Brawer, legendary repair man for Metallica, Joe Satriani, and countless other loyal customers. Meeting the level of workmanship that Gary and his crew brought to the table was a welcome challenge. I worked long hours to ensure my work stood up to the quality required by Gary and his clients and enjoyed restoring forgotten treasures into beautiful and functional instruments. Working on such a large variety of instruments and different types of repairs has expanded my skill set and given me confidence to pursue my own work.
My most sincere thanks go out to Roger, Joe, Gary, Rob Brown, Tim Frick, Mark Gullo, Lisa Hahn, Norio Imai, Leo Knapp, Mike Phillips, Rob Radack, Glade Rasmussen, Fernando Rodriguez, Jeffrey Rothenberg, Chris Swope, Allen Whitman, Ryan Welcome and Dave Wnorowski in their teaching, generosity, and friendship.