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Jon Guerringue

Flat-Top Mandolin and Acoustic Guitar

Jon GuerrinqueLast year, I earned a 2-week sabbatical after 7 years with my full-time employer. My challenge was to find something to do that would be inspiring and meaningful in my life; a change from my day-to-day work as a marketer.

As I considered my love of music, my longing for playing an instrument again, and how much I enjoyed working with wood when I was younger, I realized an instrument build course was just the answer I was looking for. But then— what to build? I considered the guitar, but wasn’t sure I wanted to jump in “this deep.” As I considered the 1-week build options, the mandolin came calling to me.

Even though I didn’t know much about this instrument, I learned of its roots with the violin, and felt my connection through five years of my son’s lessons. I also already owned a guitar, so it felt right to build something completely new to me.
The mandolin was a joy to build under Scott’s excellent guidance. The one-week class is a surprisingly deep dive into the world of instrument making; I learned all the basics, and so much more than I expected. Scott’s build method is amazing, with perfectly choreographed steps that maximize your time and get you to the “finish line” on-time and with success. Yes I made a few mistakes along the way, but these proved to be excellent learning opportunities to explore what to do when things don’t come out exactly as you had expected. The instrument plays even more beautifully than I imagined, and my ears have been opened to its beautiful sound I now realize is prevalent in so many different genres of music. I was awed by my accomplishment.

With the mandolin success under my belt, I felt called to go deeper and do the 2-week guitar build. As good fortune would have it, I was able to return 9 months later to fulfill this dream. Both experiences, while different, were wonderful. I felt more confident going into the guitar build: I understood Scott’s process, I was familiar with Brattleboro and the workshop (love them both), and knew some of the build steps for the guitar that I’d already practiced on the mandolin. Yet the guitar build took me a whole level deeper, with more complex bends, bracing and embellishments that really make for a full experience (and a beautiful instrument).

I am amazed by the Gibson L-00 12-fret guitar I built. The African Mahogany sides and back upgrade I chose gave me a beautifully unique-looking instrument. I love the sound, its light weight, and how close it fits to my body when I play it. What a world of difference from the factory-built guitar I already owned.

For anyone looking to do something different, to dive into the world of instrument making, and to come away with a huge feeling of accomplishment in a relatively short period of time, I highly recommend the Whetstone School of Lutherie build courses. You’ll leave with a top-quality (and beautiful) hand-crafted instrument, and you’ll gain more than imagined from Scott’s experience and expertise.

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