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.
When I was a kid in Northern California, my father flew small airplanes for a living, but one of his hobbies was hand building custom guitars. 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 building guitars with him. There’s a good chance I was the first twelve-year-old on the block to learn how to use a table saw.
After high school, I spent three years in a recording engineering program and worked as a session guitarist in the Bay Area until I earned my Recording Arts certificate, only to decide that what I really wanted was to get into the custom guitar business. In 2005, I relocated to San Diego and got a job selling guitars at Carvin Guitars (now Kiesel Guitars). While I worked there, I would use my employee discount to buy wood from the factory and then go build guitars from scratch in my free time. I spent the next few years both copying classics and creating original designs, and focused on honing my woodworking chops – always trying to make the next one a little better than the last. I began receiving online commissions to build custom instruments for people around California, and after a while I decided to move back to the Bay to build a wood shop and start a custom guitar company with my longtime friend, James Creston.
In 2009, I got a job at San Francisco Guitarworks: the best repair shop in the city, and one of the best in the country. There, I spent the next few years immersed in a high precision world of fret work, finish work, neck resets, complex woodworking, vintage restoration, customization, modification, wiring, tooling design/process refinement, Plek machine operation, and teaching guitar repair workshops – all in a high volume service shop environment that demanded nothing short of perfection. It was an exciting time and an invaluable growth period for me as a guitar tech, and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from Geoff Luttrell, a master guitar tech and one of the best in the business. I spent my off days building guitars with James at our shop in the East Bay. We sold custom instruments under the name Maret Guitars, and worked hard to come up with new and unique design ideas to make the most of ergonomics and aesthetic flow. James and I still operate Maret Guitars to this day. I also stayed musically active writing, recording and touring with San Francisco and Oakland bands Red Light Mind, Static Thought and Atomic Tortoise.
In 2012, I took an offer to move to New York City to become a full-time luthier at Fodera Guitars. I worked directly under Vinny Fodera learning old-world fine woodworking techniques from a true master. Using chisels, gouges, rasps and carving knives, 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 a production manager with a team of luthiers under me. In addition to running the luthier shop, I designed and built jigs, fixtures and specialized workstations to smooth production flow, and I worked with Plek to beta test advanced fret leveling functions that are now part of their standard programming. I also co-founded, wrote, recorded and toured with the New York City band Mobile Steam Unit, which is still active to this day.
In 2016, I moved to New Orleans and partnered up with Benjamin here at Strange Guitarworks, where we work side by side to service the New Orleans music community. It feels good to be here to help keep your gear running so you can do what you do best. Together, we can make your passion for playing music a better experience.
I also play bass in the New Orleans rock band Them Ol’ Ghosts – check us out sometime!