In the summer of 1998 I had just completed my education at the Roberto-Venn School of Lutherie. My then girlfriend Layne and I were living in a small duplex in Tempe, Arizona. We had a swamp cooler with one vent into the house that you had to stand directly in front of to get any kind of relief from the heat. I had just accepted an opportunity to go make guitars with Charles Fox in Healdsburg, CA. That summer as we were preparing for our lives to change, Richard Buckner released “Since”. If you could wear out a CD we would have. Buckner has made many great records but this one still holds a special place for me. It always returns me to that duplex with blinds drawn, drinking mid-day beers and discussing what this new life in California might hold.
It feels like an entire lifetime has gone by since those days. Layne and I have been married for 12 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the finest guitar makers in the world and have a hand in the making of hundreds of fine instruments. We’ve moved from the Bay Area to Portland, Oregon, made many lifelong friends and yes there was even the fateful day when Richard Buckner himself sat on my couch and explained that the guitar I had loaned him just wasn’t working out. Win some, lose some. As it turns out, that guitar found it’s rightful owner who has almost worn a hole through the top of it from loving it so.
About 4 months ago we moved back to Arizona. Although we are once again standing in front of a swamp cooler vent for relief, this time I am building my dream shop and preparing to make the best instruments of my career just a couple hours south of where this whole thing started. I just listened to “Since” and realized maybe for the first time just how much things really had come full circle.
Packing up the Stratton Guitars shop for the move to Tucson. Very excited about the big new shop space in the desert!
Ok, so here’s what I’ve been listening to in the shop lately:
Reverie-Joe Henry’s latest masterpiece
July Flame-Laura Veirs’ excellent release from a couple of years ago
Hamhocks and Cornbread-A fantastic compilation of early rock and roll, blues and soul music put out by JSP records a couple years back
And of course the pile of Tom Waits records that keep finding their way back into rotation.
What are you all listening to?
The neck for this 12 string is finally taking shape. Here the heel is mid-way through the carving process. It’s contours will soon match the one on the left.
Today my friend Patty Sullivan-Lackaff brought a pretty special mandolin to my shop. Patty’s late husband John Sullivan was a friend of mine and a great mandolin/fiddle/guitar maker. This mandolin was made by John many years ago and was played backstage at a gig here in Portland and signed by Bill Monroe. In the years since it has been somewhat dissasembled and sitting unplayed. I’ll be bringing it back to life in the coming weeks and I believe it’s destined to spend some time with Caleb Klauder who owns another of John’s mandolins. Here are a few pics of the mando and of Bill Monroe playing it. I’m looking forward to spending some time with this one.
This 12 string gets a custom all-wood rosette.
Here’s the back and sides of Saul Koll’s 12 string being fit.
Braces have been carved and it’s time to glue the top on this Parlor guitar!
Here’s a shot of the braces being glued onto the back of the Corvo-12. Like most things here at the Stratton guitars shop, this is done the old fashioned way.
Check out the new Sights and
Sounds page on the website. Currently it features the new Stratton Session videos but will eventually be a place to listen to audio clips of new guitars as well as recordings featuring Stratton instruments!