I have been building guitars for more than 40 years now, and have constructed over 800 thus far. This has given me a vast amount of experience and contributes to my present day approach to building. Throughout the years my taste has changed, and what I thought was good at one point has been replaced with a new approach to design and the philosophy of sound while constantly evolving.

All rosettes and purflings are hand-dyed, and made by myself. Each time I make a new batch of rosettes, they will differ slightly. A few examples can be found on the website. I like a more understated rosette, rather than what I call “butterfly rosettes”, and feel the beauty of the classical guitar lies more in the balance and proportions rather than a lot of gaudy colors and inlay. I use the finest Italian and European spruce Soundboards, as well as the best Western Red Cedar available. The Soundboard is really the heart of the guitar and I spare no expense in locating the best quality I can.

The sides are laminated with 2 woods, rosewood and mahogany in most cases. The sides are 4mm thick which contributes greatly to the sustain of my guitars. This process is much more time consuming, but these days I find I would not make a guitar without using this process. However, in making guitars such as a Torres or Hauser style, I will use a single rosewood side if desired to keep its historical perspective.


I use hot hide glue on all critical composites of the guitar, all top bracing and back bracing and use it for attaching both top and back to the sides, as well as the fingerboard. Hide glue is unsurpassed in transmitting higher partial harmonics. It dries to a crystalline state unlike tite-bond, which forms a plastic bond and actually inhibits the higher overtones. The guitars, as a result, have a much crisper attack and greater sustain.

Working with hide glue is again more difficult, time consuming, and takes much more experience than other glues, but well worth it. On lutes and early instruments, I use it on every part. It’s said that the Egyptians used it on their furniture and it is still holding together after 5000 years.

In the early years, I sought volume. While this is important, I now try to combine balance and warmth along with volume. I believe the single most important quality in the sound of a great guitar, is the attack and ease of response. My guitars have always been known for this.  For those who prefer to focus more on volume, I make a model featuring different composite tops, which makes for a very loud guitar. This type of guitar can be heard on Jamey Bellizzi’s excellent recording.


Photographer: Jessica Faith Snider