My guitar making history began at age 17 on a bed frame where I attempted to make a guitar.
Later that year I attended the Earthworks School of Guitar Making in Vermont, run by Charles Fox, for six weeks in 1976.
After a short time in Athens, Georgia, I found my way to Wisconsin in June of 1978. I set up a shop in the basement of a duplex I rented and started serving the local guitar players. A year later I moved into a violin shop and started doing violin repairs as well as making guitars.
I also was acquainted with Robert Ruck during those years who was one of the leading classical makers over the last 50 years. Bob would let me use his drum sander.
In 1985 I moved to Nashville to work in the restoration shop at Gruhn Guitars where I worked from late 1985 through April, 1987. I returned there in early 1988 for a short time but was finished by the spring.
In my early years I made many steel string guitars, but I always wanted to build fine classical guitars, and in 1984 I went fully into nylon string guitars. In 1989 I had my shop in a house I owned, and there was a fire. It was at that time I learned Earl Klugh had recorded "Solo Guitar" on my classical guitars which he had acquired elsewhere.
I moved to the Berry Hill area of Nashville. I made many guitars for Klugh during those years including the instrument he has used most often on stage in recent years. In 1992 Earl asked me to build him a Del Vecchio style resonator and over the next four years I perfected the design.
Earl gave one of the resonators to Chet Atkins. Between 1993 and 1996 I made Chet three resonator guitars. He would sell them and then I would build another. The last one he used on his 1996 recording, the CD "Almost Alone".
Near the end of Chet's life, the book Me and My Guitars which told the story of Chet's guitars was published. In it the last of the three resonator guitars I made him was featured. It is an honor.
Building resonator guitars was a mind opening experience. It taught me much about how guitars work that I never expected. But the desire of guitarists to have a new sound to experience and exploit was also surprising to me and that experience has never left me. I have dedicated myself to innovation ever since.
My desire to find unique designs to offer was piqued in 1996 when I encountered Richard McClish and learned of his design concepts for acoustic guitar pickups. I could see a nylon string electric guitar that would be both truly acoustic as well as a front line stage instrument and the result was the Super Ace model.
In 1998 I made three prototypes of my Super Ace (acoustic classical electric) design. In 1999 one of those three guitars became the stage instrument of Peter White. Later that year Marc Antoine toured with Peter, and I made him one as well.
In 2002 David Oakes ordered a Super Ace, and his guitar was seen at the Musician's Institute where he taught. In 2007 that exposure led to the legendary Jimmy Wyble asking me to make him a guitar. Jimmy wanted to pay me in advance and explained that if he was not around when it was done to just make sure Larry Koonse received it.
So in 2008 I delivered Jimmy his guitar and a month later Larry recorded a project on it with Luciana Sousa and many other projects followed. Jimmy passed away in 2010 after a lifetime of performing with many legendary artists.
In 2011 I created a new design that started from the Super Ace -- it is the Super Steel. I made a larger body shape to better combine the aesthetic for fingerstyle guitarists. In 2014 John Standerfer adopted the Super Steel as his main guitar on and off stage.
Guitar making has been my lifelong pursuit. It has been an amazing journey.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy my website,
Many people have been part of my guitarmaking life starting with Susan Trent who has been living this dream with me for the last 29 years and my parents who never dissuaded me even though I'm sure they had their doubts, and here are more: