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Green, Aaron
Like most luthiers, my first foray into guitar making was simply to acquire a guitar that I could not otherwise afford. When I was 16 years old I had the incredible good fortune to meet Alan Carruth at a 3 day folk festival (NEFFA) conveniently held at the high school I was attending. I was immediately struck by two things. The first was that his guitars were the most beautiful things I had ever seen and the second was that, unlike most adults, Alan took me (somewhat) seriously. He radiated enthusiasm for instrument making and people in general. I had never met anyone like him. On the third and last day of the festival I screwed up my courage and asked him to teach me to build guitars. Much to my surprise he said yes.In those days Alan kept his shop in the basement of his home in Dedham MA. He called it his troll hole and that pretty well summed it up. His methodology in those days was largely devoid of the jigs or fixtures that most of us use to help us along in our building. What may be seen as an obstacle to the production-minded luthier made me learn how to use hand tools and forced me to learn the patience necessary for doing good work. Alan can do more with less than most people and his ingenuity is a constant source of inspiration, even today. I would show up at Alan's shop on a Friday afternoon and work until dinner time. The three years I apprenticed under Alan contain some of my fondest memories. The best ones, though, are from that first year in his basement shop.In the summer of 1992, when I was 18, Alan presented a lecture on guitar acoustics at the Guild of American Luthiers convention in Vermillion, South Dakota. I went along and this was my first experience with any luthiers other than Alan. Up until this point I was planning on building steel string and electric guitars. The first day of the convention I heard a guy playing Bach on a classical guitar that he built. I had never even thought about classical guitar until then but I made the instant decision that this was the instrument that I wanted to build.Back in Boston Alan was planning on opening a luthier's collaborative with another builder they would call the Luthier's Workshop. I had decided that I was going to continue with my building and stayed on as Alan's apprentice. This opportunity gave me the space and time to focus on classical and flamenco guitars. There were a lot more players coming through the shop and I was able to start appreciating their needs as musicians. I studied flamenco guitar under Roberto Rios who was my earliest supporter and patron. I studied classical guitar under John Bigelow whom I met through Alan. Both of these men guided my earliest attempts in classical and flamenco guitars and made me aware of the importance of having honest feedback from players. They also put up with my attempts to learn to play even when it was apparent that my efforts were probably better off being focused towards guitar construction.After three years with Alan I struck out on my own and opened my studio in Waltham, MA right up the street from him. This location is where I have been for the last 10 years. I struggled along with many side jobs to support my guitar making habit. I also decided that I needed to meet more players and joined the Board of Directors of the Boston Classical Guitar Society as the calendar editor. This brought me in contact with most of the local players and kept me abreast of concerts and happenings in the Boston area.In the spring of 1995 I offered to give classical and flamenco guitarist Dennis Koster a ride from New York to a concert he was to play in Boston. It was a great opportunity to meet a famous guitarist and sell him a guitar (or so I thought). Dennis was very kind to me when I showed him my latest effort. He said it was very nice. I thought there was more to it than that so I asked him what he really thought. After some more insistence from me, he really told me. It wasn't pretty. Despite the criticism, Dennis was extremely encouraging, so much so that I brought him my next guitar, which he said was a big improvement, although.... And the next guitar and so on. To this day Dennis has seen and played just about every guitar I have made. He has become one of my closest friends in life and greatest mentors. The instruments that I have made for him have bloomed under his hands and have given me more insight into how guitars work and play in than I otherwise would have gotten. To this day we still talk about how to make guitars better and he encourages me in all I do.
I was 16 years old when I met Alan Carruth at a folk music festival that was being held at the high school I attended. By the end of the festival I asked him to teach me and he did. Selflessly and with great patience. It was an incredible opportunity and one I am eternally grateful for. I was fortunate enough to study directly under Alan for 3 years though to this day I learn something from him every time we speak. Though I am located in the woods of Groton Massachusetts i consider my career primarily New York City based. The finest guitars and the finest players can be found there and it has helped me develop as not only a guitar-maker, but facilitates my efforts in the restoration and dealing of fine vintage instruments.
Groton, Massachusetts
Dennis Koster
Concert Classical, Grand Concert Classical, Flamenco
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