Music has been a part of my life since I was 4 years old. I was fortunate enough during my formative years to be able to study fingerstyle guitar at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music under the guidance of some truly spectacular musicians. These early opportunities became my inspiration for the way that I listened to, and understood music. It also became the point at which I began to really understand and appreciate what a finely crafted guitar is capable of.
I was first introduced to the world of guitar building by Kent Everett of Everett Guitars in Atlanta, GA while finishing my MBA at Emory University. Serving as a military officer in the United States Army at the time, my interest in guitar building was more to help appreciate a collection of guitars that I had amassed over years of playing and collecting more than it was about a career change. Kent’s instruction and experience were paramount in planting the seed that would not reach maturity until years later. After leaving the military, I pursued a career with a Fortune 500 company in Salt Lake City, UT where I continued to refine my management skills learned in the military while also learning about retail based systems and sales models, logistics and business acumen. During this time I continued to build upon the lessons that Kent taught me as I pushed my own boundaries and ideas about building and creating musical instruments.
Uninterested in continuing a career in the corporate world, I ultimately made my way to Phoenix, AZ and the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. During my 5 months there, I continued to learn and grow as a builder and repair technician under the guidance of a first rate staff, and an outstanding group of student peers. Upon graduating from RV, I opted to stay on board as an assistant instructor in the acoustic guitar program, where I continued to learn and develop under the guidance of the Director of Training, John Reuter. Along the way, my fellow instructors continued to teach me and educate me while personal experience began to meld with my formal education to mold and create the way that I approached the design and construction of the guitar as an instrument and a tool. During this time I opened my own shop and begin building Kostal Guitars full time when I was not working at Roberto-Venn. I remained a part of the staff at Roberto-Venn for three and a half years, teaching acoustic guitar construction, repair, and business development.
In November 2008 I had the opportunity to attend Ervin Somogyi’s week long voicing class, and returned to Ervin’s shop in December for a two week interview that ended with an acceptance offer to begin a two and half year apprenticeship with Ervin. I closed my shop in Phoenix, and relocated to Oakland, CA in February 2009 to start a 30 month journey that would change the way that I view and understand the guitar forever. During my time with Ervin, I had the opportunity to build guitars under his tutelage and mentorship. Ervin has taught me how to look at the guitar, understand what it is capable of, and create a guitar that expresses my vision to the world. I have been fortunate enough to learn from him the most current techniques for building, voicing, and refining the instrument while taking it to new levels in artistic expression. While at Ervin’s I also had the opportunity to cultivate friendships with builders that I greatly respect and admire. Kathy Wingert, Mike Baranik, Michi Matsuda, Mario Beauregard, Ray Kraut, Chris Morimoto, Gustav Fredell and Lewis Santer have all taken the time to help me along the way, and I am eternally grateful for what they bring to my life, and the lessons that I have learned through their friendship and support.
I relocated back to the Phoenix area when I finished my apprenticeship, and opened up shop in Queen Creek, AZ. I currently work independently and build a small number of custom instruments each year.
The guitars that I build today are a culmination of over 30 years of playing and performing experience as a fingerstyle guitarist coupled with a desire to make the best possible guitar that I am capable of. I pair this with the knowledge and teachings imparted on me by three distinctly different mentors, some amazing luthiers that helped me along the way, my own teaching experience, and my own ideas.
I am very proud of the guitars that I am creating today, and value them as a player as well as a builder, and I look forward to the opportunity to share my guitars with the world.