I've seen a lot of changes in the guitar making world since building my first instrument back in 1974. At that time there were no personal computers and the idea of a world wide web would have sounded not only amazing but the stuff of science fiction. When I started out there were only a handful of books on the subject and these were not easy to find. I did devour the few that I came across and this, besides meeting Jean Larrivee in 1975, was the extent of my access to established knowledge on the subject. I learned by studying quality instruments but mostly by trial and error. I like to say that I've made every mistake possible at least once. I also like to say that making the same mistake more than once is not a good thing! Learning this way can be painful but I've always felt that by approaching the learning process in this way you not only learn a positive way to build but more importantly whit's done this way. The knowledge base is deepened past merely doing things because someone else has done it before.
From day one I have been a one person shop, also known as a solo builder. This was a personal choice and has worked out best for me. I realize that there are more than a few established builders who always work with assistants or apprentices and I respect that approach though this approach never felt like a good fit for me. I have always felt that I wanted to be 100% responsible for both the good and the bad (hopefully not much of the latter!). When a customer orders one of my guitars he or she knows that it is built entirely by me with no outside help. This brings me to another point. In the current world of guitar making there is extensive use of CNC technology to make guitar parts on computer assisted routing machines. The upside of this is that highly accurate parts can be made by almost anyone but this also leads to another thought. In some cases the skills may be more in the programming of the CNC than in the traditional woodworking skills of guitar making. I for one love the traditions of my craft and still find great satisfaction in pushing the limits of my knowledge and skills. As of now my only use of a CNC is to have my B and Beneteau logos made by an outside company, very ably by the talented Mark Kett, and this is not likely to change anytime soon. To be clear I have utmost respect for builders who have learned the craft the traditional way and have now decided to branch into using a CNC. They've payed their dues and have the depth of knowledge to back it up.
It's extremely rewarding to know that I get as much of a thrill out of guitar building today as I did when I started out. I think the reason for this is that our craft is so deep and encompasses so many skill sets that we can never master it. There is always much more to learn and what in life can be better than that? This is what keeps me motivated and excited. Not a week goes by that I don't learn something to add to my knowledge base. I have never lost sight of the fact that I am truly blessed to be doing something for a living that I would gladly pursue as a hobby.