A maybe-not-so-quick history;
In 1986 I found myself joining a band, Southern Rail,
which had aspirations to go full-time, or at least do
around 100 dates per year. This forced me to make
a decision to become a repairman or to continue
my position as store manager at Gordon Music. Since
repair could be done on a part-time schedule, and
I thought I might like repair better, I made the choice
and got started. At that time, Gordon did not have a
repair shop in Worcester.
I gained a lot of experience in the first year or two,
then I left Gordon Music and went out on my own
for a short time. I was subcontracting repairs, some
from Gordon, some from Union Music, and also from
a few other stores in the area. Eventually I started
working at Union Music around 1991 part-time.
Union Music was offering Setup services at that time and
here I learned to perfect my ability to setup guitars. This
has become the basis for everything else I do. We take
guitars that are dirty, and out of adjustment and return
them to clients all spiffy clean and playing great for a
All the while I was learning as I went along. I did have a
brief apprenticeship with A.B (Bear) Acker up in Amherst,
MA where he taught me to assemble a Martin 00-18 guitar
kit. But mostly it was figure-it-out-as-I-go.
Meanwhile my music career went pretty well, I
traveled around the U.S. and Canada with Southern
Rail, then left in 1996 to join Salamander Crossing
from Amherst, MA. This group traveled more than Rail
so I remained part-time at Union Music, although as
my skills improved and my reputation evolved more
and more work came in.
Eventually the two jobs started to clash and I found my
personal goals and interests changing. In 1999 my wife,
Paula, and I bought a home, my mother passed away
and I discovered that I didn't want to be out on the road
anymore. I left Salamander Crossing, sadly in 1999.
At that point I decided I would change gears and look
at my repairing career as my primary objective, and play
music as a high-end hobby. In October of 1999 the band
Northern Lights called me to join. At that time they were
only part-time which appealed to me and fit into
my career path. I played with them until 2006.
Another group had formed in 1998, this group was
put together just to perform once for a town common
gig. It was the birth of Blackstone Valley Bluegrass.
This was the first time I was a charter member of a band,
and also the first band I was in with my brother, Bob.
We only played infrequently during the Northern Lights
period, as Bob was also touring internationally with
Colorado-based Front Range.
During this time, I added hours at the repair shop and
eventually worked up to the schedule I maintain today.
After I left NL in 2006 we decided to make Blackstone
Valley Bluegrass our main musical project. Today, I'm
fortunate to have a comfortable balance between work
and play (so to speak).
As I mentioned in a previous post, I believe that my
experiences as a working musician add to my depth as
a repairman. I'll never say that it specifically makes
me a better repairman, but I do believe it helps not only
with the tools-on-guitars part, but also with easier
interaction with other players.
My many years at Union Music have refined me as
a repairman, but also as a businessman. Carl Kamp,
who is Union Music's owner has taught me (mostly by
example, but sometimes by direct instruction) a set
of valuable business ethics, and customer service
skills which form the basis of how the company presents
itself. This combined with my own musical and technical
expertise has resulted in a successful repair business with
a fairly large, loyal customer base. None of this is ever
taken for granted, but instead very much appreciated.
I hold instruments in very high regard, whether a gorgeous
vintage piece, or a bland beginners instrument. Each has it's
value to it's owner and this value must always be respected.
Maybe it's the musician in me, but wonderful music can be
made on any instrument, and if I can make it easier for the
player to make their own music, then I've succeeded.
We also try hard to give a lot of service for a reasonable price.
Sometimes this means I have to do some extra work, or
spend a little more time than planned. I've found that
in the long run, this always is best not only for the client,
but also for me. When customers tell you they got more
than expected you have delivered a good quality service.
Well, this post has become "a lot of post for a reasonable price"
so I'll wrap it up here. As always I welcome your comments,