San Antonio’s James Roadman is not only a top-notch repair person but also the maker behind some incredible tooling for luthiers. For Episode 69 of the podcast, James tells us how he went from making his own drum set to repairing guitars. He also covers all his machine shop tools and how he uses them in both repair and machining.
Musician, vintage instrument expert, and guitar dealer Eric Schoenberg is largely responsible for the resurgence of OM-size guitars. In the early 1970s, Eric worked with the Martin guitar company to start making OM guitars based on their own late 1920s and early 1930s designs. The project at times also included names we all know such as Dana Bourgeois, TJ Thompson, Julius Borges, John Slobod, Bruce Sexauer, Robert Anderson, Randall “Sparky” Kramer, and others.
For Episode 68 of the podcast, we hear the history of Eric's path as a professional player, guitar designer, and retailer, and his thoughts on OM's, 12 fret vs 14 frets guitars, and much more.
Dusty Gregg spent years as a professional touring guitarist and road tech before starting his own line of guitars. For episode 66 of the podcast, Dusty tells us about how his time on the road serving professional musicians influenced his guitar designs. He also shares his thoughts on winding pickups, pickup magnets, carbon fiber, and much more.
Doug and Sharon Proper own and operate Guitar Specialist, one of the top repair shops in the country. Doug started out with ambitions of becoming a professional jazz guitarist and began repairing guitars to help pay for his music studies in college.
For our 65th episode of the podcast, Doug tells us about approaching lutherie as a sound financial business and his philosophy on pricing and customer relations. We also talk about some of Doug's favorite tool, least favorite jobs, and much more.
Glenn Nichols of Retrograde Guitars builds instruments inspired by the catalog guitars of the 1940s and '50s. For episode 63 of the podcast, he tells us how he is re-imagining laminated tops and how he treats them as acoustically tunable plates. He also shares how, after getting a degree in art, he ended up working for Santa Cruz guitars and luthiers Kenny Hill and Bill Tippin. We also talk about the spirit varnish he uses on all his guitars, his wood choices and more.
João Cassias makes electric, acoustic, and archtop guitars out of his three-person shop in São Paulo, Brazil. For Episode 62 of the podcast, João tells us how he got bit by the luthierie bug and about his early guitar studies in São Paulo. He recounts how, with the support of his family, he was able to come to the US to attend the Galloup school and spend time at Ervin Somogyi and Tom Ribbecke’s shops. João shares stories and lessons from each of those experiences and tells us why the archtop guitar is his favorite.
David Russell Young has been making violin bows for over 30 years, but before that he was a guitarmaker. And, in 1975, David published The Steel String Guitar: Construction and Repair, one of the few books on guitarmaking at the time. It would go on to inspire countless builders.
For episode 61 of the podcast, David takes us back to his first guitars and how he came to write the influential book. He also tells us why he switched to bowmaking and gives us a primer on bow materials and construction. At the end of our chat, David reflects on his 50 years as a luthier and offers his thoughts on the current world of custom guitars.
Shelley Park builds some of the finest guitars in the Selmer-Maccaferri tradition out of her one-person shop in Vancouver, Canada. Shelley’s obsession with guitar started as a teenager and, by the age of 19, she was learning to build guitars with renowned luthier and player, Michael Dunn. For Episode 60 of the podcast, Shelley discusses the structure, sound and setup of Maccaferri-style guitars, and tells us about her cylinder-top model based on a 1920s Vega guitar. Shelley also talks about business challenges, views on social media, her favorite tools, and much more.
Tim Kill started building guitars as a teenager in his grandfather's workshop. He then went on to travel the world before returning home to Australia to play bass in bands, study classical guitar building, and double bass restoration, repair and construction.
Tim then went onto to start his own shop building a wide variety of instruments including stick basses, Indian classical slide guitars and Weissenborns. During our chat, Tim tells us about his influences, the handmade tools that his grandfather left him, his finishing processes and his non-guitar hobby... racing vintage motorcycles.
Flip Scipio's interest in guitars runs in many directions. He builds and eclectic assortment of guitars and other stringed instruments in addition to doing repairs out of his one-man shop in NYC.
For episode 58 of the podcast, Flip reflects on his career in guitars and his time studying guitar making in London and in Spain with José Romanillos. We also hear about his time at Guild Guitars and Mandolin Brothers, and his work for high profile clients like Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, David Lindley, Ry Cooder and Bruce Springsteen. Finally, Flip explains to us why he likes guitars that are "like a dog in a cat suit."
After finishing degrees in Theology and Fine Arts, Beau Hannam learned to make guitars in Gerard Gillet's shop in Australia. Beau then went onto teach and build guitars alongside Gerard for the next 10 years, before moving to the US in 2010.
For Episode 57, Beau fills us in on his time as a luthier in Australia and his reasons for leaving. He also tells us why he started making ukes, and we also learn about his novel inlay techniques and his YouTube instructional videos. Finally, we go through a long list of people who should not listen to this interview.
Saul Koll makes some of the world's finest electric guitars from his one-man shop in Portland, Oregon. For episode 56 of the podcast, Saul discusses his design process and its origins. Saul also tells us about his influences, the new Koll effects pedal and forthcoming amp, making hardware, and his views on tools from pocketknife to CNC.
Jeff Jewitt has been interested in guitar building since the 1970s. As the inventor of TransTint dyes, Jeff is widely recognized as a leading expert in all types of finishes and is the author of five books on the subject. For our 55th episode of the podcast, Jeff talks about the start of his finishing products companies, as well as which solvents are most hazardous to your health (and how to safely use them). We also hear about Jeff's own line of guitars and his preferred finishing method for his own instruments.
Willie Carter has travelled the world as a guitar tech for Otis Taylor; worked at Gryphon and Santa Cruz guitars; served as a professional recording engineer; and is co-founder of Carter Poulsen guitars, where he and Eric Poulsen are making great acoustic guitars out of their workshop in Santa Cruz, Calif. For episode 54 of the podcast, Willie weaves all of these parts of his life together and describes the moment he fell in love with guitarmaking. Willie also talks about his favorite woods, the positive aspects of building in a partnership, reflects on being a minority as a guitar maker, and developing your own magic style.
Dan Erlewine literally wrote the book on guitar repair: He's the author of The Guitar Player Repair Guide, which was first published in 1990. A well-worn, dog-eared copy of that book is always close to my bench and it's how I first learned guitar repair. (I bet it taught many of this podcast's listeners, as well.) Over his 50 year career, Dan developed many of the methods luthiers use today and he never shied away from taking on the most challenging repairs.
For the 52nd episode of the podcast, Dan tells us about his career as a touring musician, opening for some of the biggest acts in the late '60s. He also discusses the guitars he built for Albert King and Jerry Garcia, his time at Stewart MacDonald, some of his toughest repairs, his favorite tools, and his new signature model DE-11 guitar made by the Iris Guitar Company.
Ian Davlin, who goes by the online moniker "Ian Hates Guitars," may have a complicated relationship with guitars, but he sure is good at fixing them. For episode 51 of Luthier on Luthier, Ian tells us about working for Breedlove Guitars and his eventful interview process at Nashville's famous Gruhn Guitars, where he worked for many years.
Ian also tells us about the development of his heat stick neck removal tool and his popular finish touch up class he teaches at Dan Erlewine's shop. These days, in addition to doing repairs, Ian runs a Patreon supported guitar repair group which has proved to be an invaluable source for excellent information on all aspects of the business.
Tom Ribbecke is a lutherie legend and one of the originators of the custom guitar scene as we know it today. For episode 50 of the podcast, Tom walks us through his first 50 years of guitarmaking, including the evolution of his sound bubble guitar, his Halfling model, and his compliant rim guitars and basses. Tom also takes us back to the ‘70s guitar building scene in San Francisco and ends the podcast with some truly profound advice for aspiring builders.
Luthier Rosie Heydenrych is the builder behind England's Turnstone Guitar Company. On episode 49 of the podcast, she shares her approach to voicing instruments, including the use of tonewoods from her native England. She also discusses her views on women in lutherie, her work flow, and how she adopts new techniques and technology into her builds.
This month's episode is sponsored by Dream Guitars.
In 1969, Frank Ford and Richard Johnston started the legendary Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California. On episode 47 of the podcast, Ford tells us what it is like to run one of the world's premiere repair shops for over 50 years.
We hear about the early days of Gryphon (including their initial attempts to build and sell handmade instruments). Ford also talks about the store today, his philosophy on communicating with customers, his favorite repairs, and how, thanks to Dan Erlewine, he got started in teaching.
This episode is sponsored by our friends at Dream Guitars.