My interest in luthiery began while I was attending Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachussetts. As an aspiring oil painter, I learned simple wood working by bracing and stretching canvases. Color theory, varnishes and solvents were common place. Creativity, composition and visual design would become second nature.
After graduating with a degree in Fine Arts in 2002, I enrolled in the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Pheonix, Arizona. I built three instruments over a six month course. As a certified luthier, I began my search for employment in the guitar industry.
Santa Cruz Guitar Company
With a solid resume and a little luck, I found myself in an entry level position in the finish department at Santa Cruz Guitar Company. SCGC is a small steel string guitar production company in California, founded in the 1970s by head luthier Richard Hoover. I quickly felt at home working with lacquer and color, and in time became the finish department foreman. At the time we were a small team of 15-18 employees, all with our own specialties. Attention to detail was paramount. I collaborated, brainstormed, joked, and argued with some of the best young minds in luthiery. Many of us would move on to build under our own names. I ultimately spent 9 years at SCGC, totally immersed in guitar building. I attribute much of my work ethic to the years spent at Santa Cruz.
Kenny Hill Guitar Company
After dedicating myself to nitrocellulose lacquer for nearly a decade, I began to grow interested in a more natural approach to finish. My curiosity would eventually lead me up into the Santa Cruz Mountains to find Kenny Hill. Kenny is a world renown classical guitar builder famous for his use of French polish. After a few meetings, I convinced Kenny to hire me as his head polisher. This was the beginning of an intensive independent study into shellac, resins, oils, and spirit varnish recipes. I was also put in charge of French polish restorations, which I soon fell in love with. Kenny supported the idea of starting my own restoration business, and helped to promote my talents in the classical guitar world. I now perform all East Coast repair and restoration work for Hill Guitars. I am forever grateful for the opportunities gained at Hill guitars, as it eventually led me back home.
Bill Tippin is a boat builder turned guitar maker in Marblehead, Massachussetts. A master luthier with over 35 years under his belt, Bill is regarded as one of the finest boutique acoustic guitar builders in the world. I am the only employee in Bill's small shop. Every day is a new puzzle or challenge to solve, from milling wood to cutting inlay. Many of my building and repair processes are learned directly from Bill, as well as how to set up, organize, and run a small shop. I believe in any trade that it is important to work closely with experienced craftsmen; it helps to keep standards high, and accelerates the learning curve. I continue to spend a few days a month working for Tippin Guitars.
In the summer of 2016, I moved to Norfolk, Massachussetts with my wife and two daughters. We had an opportunity to move into the house that my wife's grandfather built, making my children the fifth generation to live on the land. In this old New England house, I finally have the space to set up shop and realize my own vision as a guitar maker. This has not been a solitary journey. I am thankful to my family, friends, mentors, colleagues, and customers for supporting my dream. Together we are all responsible for a little more music in the world, and that is a good thing.