Do you do repairs?
Yes. Repairs are a big part of my business here. Everything from 1850's Martins to Floyd Rose guitars comes though my door here in Bristol, Vermont. I serve customers from Burlington, Middlebury, down to Rutland, Plattsburgh, NY, and have many scattered throughout the rest of New England. Maybe your banjo is making a weird new sound, or you got some new pickups you want to try out on the favorite electric. Don't hesitate to get in touch.
And you build instruments? What's up with that?
It all kind of hangs around the wood. When I thought of building guitars for a living, I really didn’t want to participate in the over harvesting of rainforest timbers. We all love rosewood, ebony, etc, but it can be a ruthless business selling that stuff so I became more interested in what might be growing out my back door. I started working with local sawmills and lumber collectives to source my materials and was impressed, not just with the quality, but with the control I now had in hand selecting the pieces. Also, I love hanging out with my wood people and it’s good for small businesses to work together. Since I began this project I have sourced reclaimed and sustainably logged Yellow Pine, Red Spruce, Hawaiian Koa, Black Walnut, Coastal Redwood, and African Mahogany to name a few. Now, if you just need to have rosewood or ebony it's not too hard to twist my arm. I've got plenty of that in my stacks as well.
In terms of design, what I'm aiming for is geometric balance. Sleek, elegant, efficient. I do conventional work, like parlor guitars in the Martin style, but I also do abstract and technological work, unusual contours in wood and the full compliment of electrical complexity. These are examples of instruments I've been happy to build for my clients and friends. Sound and playability are the bottom line. I've found that the best way of achieving this is efficiency of design.
Do you do it all from scratch?
Yes. From scratch and by hand. I don't use a CNC router - I'll say they don't offer inferior quality - but lots of people value hand work still. If you like the idea of the instrument maker peeling off each shaving of wood with fine old tools, your instrument coming slowly to life, then I'm your guy. I'd rather build fewer instruments in my quiet shop here in Bristol, Vermont. Doing it that way, it's easier to make every instrument count.
Where did you learn how to do this?
I learned different things from different people over the years. I started tinkering on my own guitars as a teenager. Soon I worked on a friend's, then for someone I'd never met, and it just sort of progressed like that. In a few years I was moonlighting with the guitar thing, working from my home, then later I was asked to manage repairs for a busy music store. There I developed a broad set of skills. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from other people’s mistakes, and quite often that’s what you’re dealing with in repairs. Also, I read a lot. I have a little library of great resources, you can leaf through a few next time you're in. Finally, I have had the good fortune to know some great furniture makers and other woodworkers whose wisdom has saved me considerable time and trouble over the years.
Who buys your instruments?
People who value not just quality of sound and playability, but also the artisanal nature of the instruments and my business. I am blessed with customers who support my joint ambitions: making every instrument by hand and unveiling the beauty in woods growing right under our noses.
Do you have certain models you usually make?
I do, and they are on display at my shop at 54 West Street Bristol, VT 05443. I also do one-offs for customers with certain desires.
I have a project in mind, how do I get a quote on the price?
Just shoot me an email through my "contact" tab and I’ll get back to you soon!
Credit: Trent Campbell, Independent Images