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I have arrived at my current state from two directions; as a listener/player and as a craftsman.

I remember as an early teenager being surprised by the sound of a classical guitar playing music that caught me completely off guard. I actually stopped and listened transfixed (for a teenager, that's something!) And I remember this moment 40 years later as clearly as if it were yesterday. The music was the Recuerdos and the guitarist was Segovia. To this day, it still remains my favorite music in spite of the fact that it has been recorded by every man woman and child with a guitar since. Years later with a young family I managed to acquire my first guitar, a Goya and heading bravely into the sixties, confronting the Kingston Trio and folk music head on. During the 70's and 80's I was struck by a Bluegrass disease and didn't recover until the late 80's when I rediscovered the classical guitar.

I now am in a recovery program with the Colorado Springs Guitar Society where I am responsible for the concert program. I take lessons from Dale Miller, a concert and recording artist and grapple with theory and improving my sight reading skills. My eventual goal is?you guessed it, to play a presentable version of the Recuerdos. I promise that I will never record it. My biggest accomplishment as a player was when I played at my daughter's wedding . She was just as terrified as I was!

My playing skills will be always be quite modest, but I find that it helps me to communicate better with my clients as well making me more sensitive to set-up and developing the sound in my guitars. I have also discovered while supporting the guitar playing community that my ear and critical judgments are challenged and improved by the dozens of different guitar types coming through my shop for repair and set-up.

My father and his brothers, who believed that if you took a fancy to a car, house or airplane, that you built it yourself by hand, imprinted me early in my youth. For them, being raised in the Depression and war years, this was an entirely natural behavior. As a result, through much of my life, I have been designing and building one thing or another and thus learned applied engineering in an immediate and practical way. During the 80's these activities took me into the world of Sailplanes and composite construction and I incorporated some of these disciplines into my guitar designs. Due to a decided lack of judgment, I have remodeled several homes culminating in the ultimate sickness, the restoration of an 1895 Victorian house here in Colorado Springs where we raised our family. For five years, I spent all evening, weekends and vacations dedicated to acquiring all manner of skills including plastering curved hallways and cabinet making.

Professionally, I was involved in Operations Management for a national printing company and at various times in my career, I held also held positions in engineering and research and development. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the corporate world was not contributing to my long-term health. I needed to find activity that would be satisfy me creatively and allow me to work at making things with my hands - something that I could do the rest of my life and that would contribute to culture in some way. While I have always held an interest in art having exhibited and sold modest works in watercolor, I didn't believe that I had any original ideas not already being presented by others.

My youngest son, Corey, lives in Sacramento and he had always tinkered around with guitar making starting with electrics and straying into archtop guitars and lately classicals. So with my son as my mentor, I began to develop ideas about becoming a Luthier. It was natural for me to consider the classical guitar. I soon learned there was a long tradition honoring the Spanish guitar as well as several makers who were pioneering new ideas. It seemed also that unlike other acoustic guitar worlds, the classical guitar and it's music was healthy and growing at the grassroots level.

So I began to study instrument design and found several structural ideas that I thought I could bring to the craft from other fields. In addition, there were expert commentators in the classical guitar world suggesting some acoustic shortcomings of the guitar, and I wondered about solving them. After playing as many fine concert guitars as I could, it seemed there were opportunities for expanding the quality of sound and I began to build.

Structurally, there are certain unique problems to building the classical guitar, but there are many resources, materials and tools available, many I already had in my shop. I needed to produce a number of guitars to develop the methods, to be sure, but it seemed to be a matter of simply paying my dues at the workbench.

Acoustically, there exists a lot of scientific and anecdotal data relative to guitar making most of which was non-conclusive and contradictory. It turns out that the guitar has too many variables to be modeled by science based predictive programs and that the best guitars are made by Luthiers using intuitive, traditional methods. Of course, I know the previous two sentences are simplifications but coming out of several years of intensive research, I'll stick by my opinions. In essence, the fine guitar is a product of the vision and experience of Luthiers and players. Additionally, A great guitar must be made of great materials, and so I began to acquire the highest quality of seasoned woods.

My mission began to take shape. I thought that the level of craftsmanship among luthiers was very high and that while I could achieve that level, one couldn't excel enough to stand out. I decided that the use of beautiful woods and shapes would be my path to competing in the craft. Acoustically, I concluded that the guitar needed to be louder for reasons of interpretation. The ability to play louder or softer wasn't part of the guitarist's technique. Part of the power recipe was sustain, enough to allow the artist to bring in vibrato slowly and effectively and enough to make important notes厀ell, important. I also observed that many guitarists played in very hostile environments along their way to fame and fortune and a powerful guitar would be quite the ally. The biggest problem was to make a guitar louder without losing sonority.

The typical classical guitar seems to lose strength and clarity of tone above the seventh fret on the treble side and I set about to find design techniques that could improve treble sustain and character. What I hear from players so far seems to suggest that my guitars have a lot of power and there is a brilliance and clarity that project very well in this register particularly in the Double Top. There are many good luthiers who are advancing the state of the classical guitar and it is invigorating to be playing a part in such dynamic work.

I enjoy being a Luthier and I feel good about the development progress in my work so far. While there is much work to be done and when I sit down to play the classical guitar I realize that thanks to Luthiery, I never will have a decent set of nails.


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