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Luthier With Attitude

I strive to build the best guitars in the world. If not, why bother? Of course, opinions as to what exactly makes up the best guitar in the world will vary according to individual perspective, and that is why I build different guitars for different people. In a hundred years or so, when the dust has settled (except perhaps in woodshops), and people talk about the golden years of guitarmaking, I want to be at the top of the list.

The ability to build really great instruments is a gift. From the very start I have been able to make decent guitars. At first I thought anyone could do it if they tried to; I did, they didn't. Then I started to meet intelligent people who tried very hard to do it, and I realized how fortunate I was (assuming that it is a good thing to throw ones life in such a direction). For over 35 years now I have honed my concept and my skills, and I am likely at the top of my game. Because I am not very jigged up, or automated, my "hand" is more evident than in some production oriented instruments, but my customers recognize this as character, adding the the beauty of the whole.

I think my guitars cost a lot of money. Not everyone can afford the financial burden, even if they wanted to shoulder it. Because I make the best guitar I can, and one at a time, I am not all that efficient, even though I am very fast in my work. I like the analogy that if Takamini's are Toyotas, Martins are Cadilacs, Collings are BMWs, and Sexauer's are Lamborghinis. Once you have driven a new Toyota, it's hard to get back into your old beater.

My "Lamborghinis" are completely handmade to fit the style of the person I am making it for. In many cases I form conclusions based on unspoken thoughts that I imagine the buyer to have. I have learned to trust myself in this area as customer feedback fully supports my conjecture so far. In the case of building more than one guitar for the same customer, it is amazing to see how close I got in the beginning. In the case of Eric Schoenberg, for whom I have now built 20 guitars, and done considerable subtle experimentation, the first is still the control piece for the project. And I play it nearly every day!

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