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My roots in guitar work extend back to helping my Dad in his workshop. He was a Master gunsmith who built reproductions of the early Colt handguns in the 1950s and 50s . His shop – with milling machines, lathes, bandsaws and all kinds of exotic gunstock and pistol grip woods was fascinating. It was always very dark and chaotic with tools, wood, and metal stock everywhere – but also very rich with creative possibilities . He could make and do anything .Very early on he figured out I had the ability to focus and execute precise craftsmanship and had me fitting and finishing gunstocks and helping with repair work.
Having taught myself to play guitar the last few months I was in the Army – when discharged – I decided to buy a finer instrument. While shopping at the local stores in the L.A. area my eyes started to notice things about the factory made instruments. As an alternative I looked in the phone book for custom guitar makers – and there was a listing for Marc Whitebook and David Russell Young. Marc built the first hand made guitars for James Taylor and David wrote one of the earliest books on steel string guitar construction. I visited Mark in his shop and left a deposit for one of his guitars. I was very intrigued with what he was doing and pestered him a bit too much with visits and questions. He eventually refunded my deposit and suggested that I needed to built my own guitar. With a lot of help from David and his book and from Roy Noble – another local builder – I started to assemble guitars in my father’s workshop.
The first two instruments I thought were marketable were taken down to McCabes guitar shop in Santa Monica and they bought – and then sold both – very quickly. One went to Peter Fonda and the other went to Tom Rush. Tom eventually performed and toured with that guitar for over three decades. I also hooked up at just the right time with Norman Harris who opened a little shop in Reseda – Norm’s Rare Guitars – that would eventually grow into one of the major dealerships for Vintage Acoustic and Electric guitars. Norm has sold my instruments to many of the most prominent musicians of the past four decades. We are still at it.
One other thing worth mentioning is my involvement with marketing musical instrument wood. Early on I had an opportunity to purchase, resaw, and sell some Pre CITES Brazilian Rosewood that was imported into the US back in 1948. Just now I am working with some of the best of that wood and looking forward to seeing it finish up into some beautiful guitars. I also had the experience of living in Colorado near the sawmills that processed high altitude Englemann and Blue Spruce logs. For several years I bought, processed, and sold spruce to LMI, Gibson, and many other individual guitar makers. Tops and billets of those Spruces have been seasoning for decades in the low humidity here in southwest New Mexico. In the early 1990s I was also very fortunate to purchase a quantity of Quilted Mahogany boards that were cut from “The Tree” – a very unique, large, and beautifully figured Honduras Mahogany tree that has become a legend. That wood is now available on my instruments thru Dream Guitars.