When did making guitars become a passion for you?
When I was 20 I walked into a guy's shop on Vancouver Island and saw that he was making guitars. The smell of rosewood and lacquer took me away and I have never been the same since.
My running joke is that I am in the situation I am now because of bad business decisions I made when I was younger. But the truth is I was completely blown away with guitar building from the minute I knew it existed. Hence the bad decisions!
What makes your guitars unique?
That is a better question for the customer. From my side, I think I bring an artistic edge to the aesthetic, because I also paint impressionistic art and have studied and enjoyed art since I was very young. I think I bring an acoustic richness to the work, because I also play guitar and am a tonally super picky person. I think they play great, because I spent the first ten years in this business working for professional musicians who were quite demanding. I can go on and on, but it is starting to sound like bragging. There are a lot of very fine guitars are out there; it is best to ask an end-user (client) why the Everett stands out.
What's changed about making guitars in the last 20 years?
Oh, tons and tons. It used to be very rare to come across a guitar builder. And many of us came to it from the hippy / carpenter side of things.
Now quite professional people seem to be drawn to it. It is funny to me because many of the people who made fun of me in the 1980s for wasting my time with this guitar building stuff, became my clients in the ‘90s. My, how things change. Thank God!
The quality of the guitar is really higher than ever now. But all too often they don't have a cool vibe "soul". I don't think that can happen for the builder until there has been some sacrifice and time put in. I am investigating these thoughts with a book I am writing.
What's next for you?
That is the million dollar question. I have met many of my personal goals in this business, so now what?
I am loving building one guitar at a time for one client at a time. I find myself using mostly hand tools again. There is a real kinetic satisfaction from watching the wood take shape under your hands.
Also I am building a great guitar building school in the Georgia mountains, north of Atlanta. If I do say so myself!
My current goal is to offer a really fantastic 6 day guitar building course. I am working at it being the best. I do it only 3 times a year and only 4 students per class. This keeps it fresh for me. I give a lot of myself in these classes. More would wear me out, or at least diminish the focus. We have had students from all over the world: Australia, S. Africa, Korea...I set the students up in their own cabin rental on the lake. So for 1 week they have a great guitar building blow out. During the day they’re in my workshop with me and at night they’re trading notes and experiences among themselves in the cabin.
After all these years at the workbench, now it is interesting to me to teach the craft. I guess that is a natural progression.
Also, I am currently working on a book on craftsmanship. We all want it, but it is so rare. There is a lot of good work out there, but not much fantastic work. Why? I am hoping to add my insight to this with The Qualities of Craftmanship. Hope to complete it this year.
In terms of my own guitars I am making time to push the envelope a bit. I have been building some instruments that mix fine art and fine guitars. And I have been developing a new mandolin and mandola. Neither is an income producer, but fortunately I am at a point where I can use my skills and conocimiento to play around a bit.
Check out Kent's work here.