At the age of 15, I had realized my life’s ambition: inspired by the sounds of Pink Floyd, Ministry, and King Crimson, I decided to devote my life to music. I bought my first bass for myself for Christmas, and immediately took it apart to see how it worked. Somehow I managed to put it all back together, and then started learning how to play it. Through the years, I kept tinkering with various guitars and basses I bought – defretting basses, modifying electronics, installing MIDI pickups, and even retrofitting guitars with microtonal scale systems. I sought out weird guitars, and then made them weirder – and better.
In my pursuit of a life of music, I’ve managed to land myself in situations that taught me quite a bit about the business of music and musical instruments. I got my first job at a guitar store when I was 18, landed a job running a multi-million dollar chain of music stores by the time I was 22, and then became a pro musician at 25, started my own record label, Analyzer Records, released music under the name UFO Death Cult, played in a bunch of bands, and toured the world and elsewhere. During that time, I noticed that I was becoming the go-to guy for people needing advice on their gear. I worked with some famous people (Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More, Candiria, etc.) and some not-so famous people, helping them get the most out of their guitars and rigs.
At some point I starting getting serious about the craft of guitar building and repair. I began my real education under Scott Morgan, tech for the all the big stars in New Orleans, and who now heads up his own guitar shop in Helsinki, Finland. After a few years of splitting my time playing bass and doing tech work, I devoted myself full time to my craft at San Francisco Guitarworks, one of the premier shops in the country. There I developed an extreme eye for detail and quality, oftentimes working to tolerances of less than .001mm. I spent the next several years there re-fretting vintage instruments, doing neck resets on pre-war acoustics, wiring advanced MIDI systems, and restoring guitars teetering on the brink of disaster. I also developed specialized jigging and tools, operated our Plek machine, and taught workshops on setups, repair, and electronics. Now I’m bringing my skills, my tools, and my passion to serve the musicians of my hometown of New Orleans.
I love making music, and I love the tools of making music. I know that inspiration can be fleeting, and nothing can kill a musical moment quite like your instrument failing to live up to it. My job here is to make sure your instrument functions as a tool for you to freely create, without getting in the way of your musical expression. If you’ve got a question, need some advice, or a sympathetic ear for a crazy idea for your guitar – come see me. I’m here to help.
Like most musicians, this whole thing started for me when I was a kid. Rock and roll changed my life as a teenager, and my existence revolved around it from then on. I had no intentions of it going any other way. I still don’t.
When I was growing up in Northern California, my father flew airplanes for a living. But one of his hobbies was guitar-making. He was brilliant at it, and I was amazed by it. I used to sit at his bench in the garage for hours and watch him work. Little by little I became more involved, and eventually I was making guitars with him. There’s a good chance that I was the first kid on the block that was taught how to use a table saw and a pin router.
After completing a three year Recording Arts program at Los Medanos College, and spending a couple years as a session guitarist in the Bay Area, I relocated to San Diego and got a job selling custom instruments for Carvin Guitars. I was also making guitars from scratch in my free time, exploring different ideas and designs. I began receiving commissions for custom instruments, and subsequently decided to move to San Francisco to actually pursue a career as a luthier.
For the next several years I spent my days repairing, restoring, and customizing instruments, and teaching repair workshops at one of the nation’s top instrument repair shops: San Francisco Guitarworks. I spent my nights (and sometimes several weeks at a time out on the road) gigging and recording with various bands, such as Red Light Mind, Static Thought and Atomic Tortoise. My remaining time was spent working with longtime friend and colleague James Creston at our shop in the East Bay, building custom instruments for the line we call Maret Guitars.
In the fall of 2012, I took the opportunity to move to New York City and become a luthier for Fodera Guitars. Until 2016, I worked side by side with Vinny Fodera. There, I had a hand in making over 1,200 high-end boutique instruments for customers around the world and for artists such as Anthony Jackson, Victor Wooten and Matt Garrison. I eventually became the production floor manager of the luthier shop, and I also stayed active in New York’s music scene – playing shows, touring, and writing and recording music with the band Mobile Steam Unit.
Now I’m bringing my experience and passion for the craft to Strange Guitarworks in New Orleans. I’m excited to combine all of the skills I’ve picked up along the way to help you with your existing instruments or to work with you to realize your dream instrument. Together, we can make your passion for playing music a better experience.