I think music started to soak in during my childhood, when my mother chose to have the stereo on rather than the TV. At the age of 15 I got turned on to Jimi Hendrix and that pretty much changed everything. I quit playing the drums which was my first serious instrument and soon found myself on the bus headed to the Starving Musician. Within the hour I had purchased my first guitar and thus the journey begins.
I spent the years playing guitar and eventually started to tinker with it. I purchased the "Guitar Player Repair Guide" by Dan Erlewine and started changing pickups and setting up my guitars. I also purchased the Luthiers Mercantile catalog which had a lot of information directed at guitar making. At one point I bought a cheap classical guitar at a garage sale and took the top off and re-braced it. It sounded horrible but I loved the process.
During this time I earned a living working various production jobs and discovered I picked things up pretty quickly working with my hands. It became clear that happiness would be found using my hands doing something that I truly loved, so in 1999 with some family assistance I attended the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix Arizona. I spent 6 months there building 2 guitars and completing a repair course. In June of 2000, I returned home to the Bay Area and landed a Job working for the Santa Cruz Guitar Company. Over my 9 plus year span I worked my way through each department learning every aspect of steel string guitar construction. The last 4 years saw my previous training put to good use working as the Service Manager. I learned all the various techniques used to repair guitars and I also saw what tension and abuse did to an acoustic guitar over time.
Over the years I have also worked for Rick Turner doing various production work and final assembly. This training brought me back to the electric guitar and inspired me to develop my Panthera model. I have also lent my services to Addam Stark, helping him with his guitar finishing business and more recently Jeff Traugott. I worked with Jeff on his fanned fret 7 string electric guitar for Charlie Hunter. Jeff has been a mentor and his advice has helped me develop my Eros model.
Some people can go a lifetime without finding something that gives their life meaning. When I strung up my first guitar I knew what that meaning was. Building guitars is the only time I'm actually free and my goal is to help create a similar feeling for the player and the audience. There is a lot of love, passion, dedication, sacrifice, and long hours involved in what I do. It's also very emotional at times. It can be hard to encompass every action and thought involved but I can sum it up with this: The meaning of the word Catharsis is an emotional release usually through art or music. That's what building guitars is for me.
Now let's see what my guitars can do for you.
Photo by Renée Flower, from the book, From These Woods: The Guitar Makers of Santa Cruz County, ©2014 Jim MacKenzie and Renée Flower