Windy Hill GuitarWorks was founded in 1992 as a result of a trip to the CF Martin Factory in Nazereth, Pennsylvania. I thought guitar construction was carried out by very old men with long beards doing secret stuff to exotic woods. The Martin factory tour enlightened me to the fact that some of the best guitars on the planet were being build by young factory workers wearing Harley jackets and ear rings (even some of the women). I started off with a collection of B-grade parts that some luthiers had picked out for me from the rejected parts bins at the old Martin factory. The back and sides had all of the braces already glued on, the sides were bent with the kerfing glued on, and the neck was completely assembled including fingerboard, nut and frets. I basically glued together the four pieces and strung it up. (I figured that I was way ahead of Dick Boak who got his first parts from diving the Martin dumpsters). I read everything I could find about guitar design and construction and attended my first ASIA (Acoustic Stringed Instrument Artisans)symposium.

Over the years I have established relationships with suppliers, invested in some machinery and built many jigs and tools to make my guitars consistant and raise the quality to the level required in today's market place. I resaw all of the body wood and bracing from exceptional stock that my suppliers put aside for me. I feel that I now have a good understanding of the physics behind guitar performance but do not subscribe to the idea that close manufacturing tolerances alone, make good guitars. Wood is far from consistant and to make it work well in an instrument, you have to listen and let the instrument tell you what to do. This is a combination of art and science, not just science. I read about violin makers measuring Stradivarii violins then trying to duplicate those exact measurements in a new violin. I feel this is the wrong approach. The Cremona violin shops produced some 14,000 instruments in the 1600-1700s. Although the records are scarce, I would not be at all surprised to learn that the "masters" picked the best from their students, journeymen, etc. and signed those as their own. I am continually amazed at the openness of the other builders. Guitarmakers will explain in great detail anything they have learned along the way. To date, I have made about 300 guitars, sold most of those, repaired many guitars, fiddles, basses, banjos, hurdy gurdys, etc. I teach guitarmaking at the Woodcraft store in Springfield, VA during Feb. and March. This has taught me a great deal about different approaches to each step in the building process. I visit other builders whenever I travel to learn about the things they have discovered.
The journey continues.

-Mike Mears

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