Four decades of custom building, 350+ total instruments combining history, art, & science. Along the way, remembering that the failures are as important as the successful models for long term development and growth as both a builder and as a person.
Preserving and restoring your vintage guitar with period correct adhesives, finishes, materials, processes, and tooling in a shop filled with much of the same vintage machinery that it was created on to maximize your tonal and playing potential while protecting your long term investment. Over the decades James has handled and worked on literally thousands of the finest guitars ever built in his own studio and for some of the finest shops in the nation. Nothing prepares your own new instrument building like seeing how the great vintage guitars both hold up and fall apart over the decades.
Since 1995, James has taught individual, group, and master classes totaling almost 2000 students and has published approximately sixty articles on instrument building and restoration & multiple commercially available blueprints. We also help other shops around the country collaborate with projects beyond their skills and with training their employees. Some of the more popular offerings are listed below. If you don't see what you are looking for, give us a call.
This is what it pulls the whole instrument together for maximum tone, volume, and playability. You can build a great instrument, but without a fantastic professional grade setup, all you can do is speculate about the potential hiding inside; you can't bring it out 100%. Don't settle for less. We'll spend three days covering Nut, saddle, neck angle, a full refret, and as well as build a complete new fretboard off the body the same way way we do it for new builds. You'll leave here with skills, confidence, and a great setup guitar.
Take the guess work and mystery out of neck joints and move to confident accurate, repeatable dovetails that come out correct on the first try with consistent methods and fixtures.
Confidence, accuracy, and ease of installation: those are the qualities we all strive for in our binding work. Decades of experience will show you how to get great consistent results and take those skills back to your own workshop for all your personal instruments.
We will go from a rough braced top to a methodical plan for consistent great voicing on your guitars: power, frequency , tone, and headroom with repeatable results using simple hand tools and analyzing our vintage blueprint library of some of the finest vintage guitars made.
We'll joint a fine spruce top and glue it up with traditional hot hide glue, then we'll spend the next two days hand carving the archesd plated using traditional tools and methods. We'll aslo use my personal blueprint library of approximately 100 of the finest vintage instruments I've ever played & worked on fora unique in depth comparison and analysis among different models for a unique learning opprotunity.
A great introduction to building guitars: everything you need without any excess. You can bolt on to an existing body and play a few tunes before you leave or use it as step one for a complete build.
The classic slab bodies based on 1950s designs: everything you need in a simple, timeless package. This is a great introduction to guitar building and basic power tool use with vintage designs created on many of the same beautifully restored vintage machines that Leo used.
Set neck and thru neck electric guitars with cutaways that melt away into the body. What more could you ask for?
The iconic dreadnought dovetail neck. Simple, precise, & an efficient design that has proven the test of time.
Take the guesswork out of the timeless rosette and learn the traditional techniques of making them very accurate and efficient using a combination of hand and simple power tools.
Traditional hand rubbed and spray finish class taking your work to the next level, as featured on the cover of American Lutherie Magazine #125 and demonstrated at The Guid of American Luthier's Conventions.
Period correct tools, period correct materials, and period correct adhesives to help maintain the originality and value of your prized vintage beauty. Call for more information specific to the individual instrument.