I have not been writing much lately. I have been busy making guitars, working on my house and playing music with friends. Life is good. During a recent visit to the Midwest, I had the opportunity to meet yet another remarkable man and guitar maker. His name is Frank Neat and he is an extraordinary individual.
Doctor of Education by trade, Frank is a small town school teacher in Ashland, Kentucky by day, but at night he transforms into a guitar building guru. He is one of those people who are so good at what they love to do that it becomes hard not to notice them after awhile. And let me tell you – there is no lack of recognition in Frank’s life!
Frank has built a large following around his guitar building business and is often sought out by well-known musicians for custom made instruments. Musicians so big that I don’t even know who they are (I am not really into country music). His guitars are absolutely exquisite and his list of clients is impressive to say the least.
So why does this matter? It matters because Frank has taught me some more important lessons about life and friendship during our meeting. His story (which I will share with you later) reveals incredible insights about the power of passion and friendship, but
As a guitar maker, I have been asked many times “how did you get started in this business?” or “what made you want to start building guitars?”. I always answer that I started building guitars because I was trying to help someone else. At the time, I didn’t know how to build guitars… but, I wanted to help them so much that I was willing to try something new and learn how.
I think the single most important thing we can do in life is decide to help other people. It sounds so simple, right? But how many times have you not helped someone else because it wasn’t convenient for you? There are always reasons why we can’t help others: we’re tired; we have a lot on our plate; it’s not our responsibility. But if we stop looking at all of those excuses as barriers and start seeing them as challenges, we will be amazed at what we can accomplish!
The desire to help another person led me into an entirely new field that has changed my life. It has brought me so much joy, taught me about myself and about other people. It has allowed me to share my passion for music with others and to bring happiness into their lives.
How can you help someone today?
I have been a professional guitar builder for over 30 years. I have built my own brand of guitars and worked for some of the biggest names in the music industry building their custom guitars, basses and mandolins.
I’ve built instruments for many of the world’s top musicians including Dolly Parton, Joe Walsh, Vince Gill, Keith Urban, John Jorgenson, Steve Wariner and John Hiatt – just to name a few!
Over the years I have found that there is nothing quite like building an instrument from scratch. It takes a combination of skill, patience and perseverance; it requires an understanding of both traditional techniques as well as new technologies; it requires you to constantly learn new skills and techniques; it requires an appreciation for beauty and balance in design; it requires an understanding of how different woods perform when combined together; it requires you to know your tools intimately; it allows you to create something beautiful out of wood and make it sing!
In addition to all this, making a guitar has taught me more about myself than any other single experience in my life so far. Through this blog I aim to share with you what I have learned from my years working in this craft as well as introduce you to some of the people who have influenced me
A friend of mine recently asked me “What’s the best guitar you’ve ever played?”
I told him it was a guitar made by my friend, Mike Doolin.
Mike builds about 30 guitars a year and is meticulous about every aspect of construction. My Doolin guitar is made from the finest wood Mike can find, it’s perfectly balanced, has perfect intonation and sounds absolutely amazing. It’s a joy to play and will only get better with age.
I told my friend that I thought that if we had the opportunity, everyone should own a guitar made by someone they love or admire. There’s something special about holding an instrument, knowing that someone you love crafted it with their own hands and paid close attention to every detail as they built it just for you.
All the best guitar makers I know are friends. And it makes sense if you think about it. The process of building a guitar is very personal, and the end product reflects that. So, when someone picks up your instrument, they’re not just playing a guitar — they’re experiencing your craftsmanship, your dedication and your passion for making music.
That’s why the first time a player picks up one of my guitars, I always get nervous. I want them to feel what I felt when I built it. So a few weeks ago, when legendary country guitarist Tim Stafford grabbed one of my builds to take on tour with him, I was feeling especially anxious. Sure, our mutual friend had vouched for me — but that didn’t mean Tim was going to like what he saw and heard from my hand-built instrument.
After all, there are plenty of other guitar makers out there who have years more experience than me; plenty of them could give Tim exactly what he needed for his upcoming tour with bluegrass band Blue Highway. But after he tried out my build, we talked — and he chose me to make him his new touring guitar.
So how did that happen? What made Tim choose my guitar over some of
A luthier is a craftsman who builds or repairs string instruments like the guitar, mandolin, viola, cello and double bass. Luthiers typically have a background in woodworking and often have other skills such as violin making, piano building or drum making. The word luthier derives from the French luth, meaning lute. Few luthiers make their own bodies and necks, but many make their own pickups, hardware and electrics.
My name is Jason Wojciechowski and I am a composer/guitarist living in Brooklyn NY. I’m also an amateur guitar builder, but I don’t consider myself a luthier because I don’t get paid for it. My full time job is a composer writing music for television and film. But I’ve been building instruments on the side since 2008 and I’ve learned a lot about life through this process.
There are four things that I have learned from my brother and his growing business, Luthier Guitar Repair.
1.) You can never have too many tools.
2.) Sometimes you’re going to break something before you fix it.
3.) You need to have a good support system.
4.) If you want to set yourself apart, you have to find ways to be unique.