I never tell anybody to be what I am, but you've gotta know what I am because it effects what I do. I'm a follower of Jesus. As much as I want to please the person I'm building for, most of all I want to please the One who made the wood and makes me able to work with it. I have about a dozen different woods that I keep in stock and use on a regular basis. But then there's some, ebony being at the top of the list, that I don't use. I try to keep up with what's going on when it comes to wood, and it's easy to see that ebony is one of those endangered woods. I try to make it a point not to use a wood if it's being driven into extinction. I just kinda like the idea of being a good caretaker of the earth. I don't want to tell a person what they should want or not want, but I know there are some body shapes, especially on electric guitars, that I would not enjoy making. While my tools will cut wood to any shape I want it, I just don't think I would enjoy building something that looked like it was demon possessed. Also, I think it would be unfair and probably a bit dishonest for me to build someone an imitation of another guitar. Bob Taylor has put a lot of time and work into developing what I think is a very good guitar. Why would a person want to settle for an imitation when they could buy a Taylor? So, please don't ask me to build you an imitation Martin, Taylor, Fender, etc. I have my own line of instruments, which includes guitars, mandolins, and dulcimers. And I'm trying to build my own name. When a person is serious about building their own name, they don't do it by imitating what someone else is doing.
I've done building and repair work locally for years now. Most of the local folks know me - I'm the only person around here who does building and repair work. I try to do the best work possible on everything I do. But, the best part of me has got to be my name. When I'm gone, I want to be remembered more for the way I've treated people than for the instruments I've built. This job is important to me, but not as important as my wife. I read an article where a well known guitar builder was being interviewed. He said that his building has cost him two wives already and he is married to his third wife now. This job will never cost me my first wife. What I am is more important than what I do. As it pertains to the local folks, I have seldom ever had to put something in writing. A person will come in my shop and tell me what they want. We'll look around a bit and make a wood selection and after everything is decided we'll shake hands. That binds our deal. I enjoy it that way. I try to deal kindly with people and I'm looking to build for folks who will be kind in return.
Years ago, I met a professional banjo player who gave me some advice that seemed like good advice. So I've followed it. He told me the banjo he was playing cost way more than it was worth and all because of the inlay work that was on it. He said at the time, he thought it was the thing to do, to buy that banjo. But if he had it to do over again, he would have spent less and been just as satisfied. He told me if I was looking to build in a way that average folks could afford my instruments, then I might want to think about not doing a lot of inlay work. I've put some time into learning the art of inlay, but I have to admit I haven't used much of what I've learned. I've seen one guitar builder's prices and if you get all of the inlay that he offers for his guitars, it almost doubles the price. I'm more into the stuff and not the fluff. The inlay does look good, but I want folks to be able to afford my instruments. So I leave it off. I do put fret markers in the fretboard, but that's about it. I use the best quality of everything I can find. I hand select all of my lumber and often I harvest my own trees and saw them. I use the best glue and finish that I can find. So, my instruments are built well, they play well, and they sound good. There is definitely no snob appeal to my instruments. I keep the price affordable, so there's no such thing as a person getting one of my guitars and bragging that they've bought something no one else could afford.
There's no one builder who can be all things to all people, and I certainly don't try to be. If you look at my webpage, and maybe catch up with a few of the folks that have my instruments, and then you think maybe I'm the person you'd like to have build for you, then I would enjoy doing your work.