Biography

My woodworking experience goes back to early childhood in the woodshop with my father who kept me out from underfoot by giving me projects of my own. Early interests included wooden go-carts powered by washing machine motors, (yes, there used to be gasoline washing machine motors!), a kayak that sunk within seconds of launching and a laminated hunting bow that was a huge success until confiscated by the neighbor lady (ahem). As our house grew so did my carpentry experience, from framing to finish, a process that's been never-ending to date with a couple of renovations of my own. Furniture was the next logical step and some of my early work is still in service at our home in Freeport, Maine. Later on boatbuilding became the passion and my bent-wood skills were further honed on the nearly total re-build and restoration of a 31-foot Concordia sloop which won awards at the Newport Classic Yacht Regatta in 1990 and the Woodenboat Show in 1992.


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Music was a passion in the early years as well. While the woodworking hobby continued unabated, my garage band guitar and bass playing took a back seat until several years ago when I re-discovered bluegrass music. I was mesmerized by the sound of the dobro. I had to have one. My first was an Asian manufactured 'starter' instrument that was good enough on which learn the fundamentals. It wasn't long before the search for the Holy Grail of tone, volume and sustain was underway. And of course that quest began with the disassembly of that first reso, which naturally led to the "improvement" of same and the rest is … current events. I was saving up for a custom instrument when a luthier friend suggested I just build one. With his help and guidance I did, and then another, and before long other players heard the results and were encouraging me to build more.


After retiring from my primary career as an airline pilot in 2005, the wood shop became the new "job" as a series of new projects went out the door. Banjo Chairs 007 smallArmstrong's Box 040small


I continued my research in the field of the luthiers art and I've now focused my efforts in the shop on building and maintaining resonator guitars.

"Number One", shown below, the tobacco sunburst prototype, has now completed several seasons of hard use and undergone numerous modifications including three different cones, two neck re-sets, changes to the top bracing scheme and a new Fishman pickup. It's my personal reso and now the benchmark for every new instrument.


I used screenless ports on this one. If there's a difference in tone between screens and no screens, I can't hear it. You can have it either way.
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This photo was taken at the 2009 Ossipee Valley Bluegrass Festival. That's me with the Bits & Pieces Band playing Number One.
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