My wife Lynn, me, a mandolin, and in front: Buster the Beagle (he's about 12 or 13 now)!
While but a wee lad, I listened to bluegrass and real country music and oh yeah, rock and roll. My father played guitar (one of my first memories is him playing Ghost Riders in the Sky) and regularly had other musicians over to play. I've played music ever since. First came the trombone. Then came guitar, banjo, mandolin, mandola, a little dulcimer, autoharp, harmonica, a tad bit of dobro, ukulele, ipod.
Woodworking was an unplanned career starting in about 1974, building custom furniture and cabinets. In the late 1970's, desiring a better banjo than the one I had and not being able to afford to go buy such, I decided to make one. It was a success! People started placing orders. I built about 35 instruments: guitars, mandolins, and banjos. I realized that playing an instrument was critical to knowing how to build one, not just to know how it should sound but also to know how it should feel when you play it. Alas, I drifted away from building instruments for a time (20 years). A funny thing happened in about 2000: I really fell in love with the mandolin and started building instruments again: mandolins, mandolas, guitars. I have no plans to build trombones.
My shop is in what was the Wurlitzer piano factory in DeKalb, IL. Wurlitzer built organs and pianos in this building for over 100 years before leaving about 1970. My shop has been here since 1976. The tradition of building musical instruments in this old building continues. In fact, Clifford Alexis, internationally acclaimed steel drum maker, also has a shop in this building.