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I began this blog in order to share my experiences learning instrument building from my dad, but along with those stories I look forward to sharing my memories of growing up with two busy, musically inclined parents as well as my current experiences stepping out on my own as a female luthier promoting environmental sustainability in her instruments while working to alter gender stereotypes in a male dominated field. If you'd like to use quotes from this blog for interviews or in your own work, please contact me first! (email is henderson.elizabethj@gmail.com)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 1

My dad is amazing at what he does. His job is unlike anyone else's I know. To him, constructing instruments and finding a perfect balance of aesthetics and functionality is like breathing. He just does it. It is not a job at all.

I know that I will never possess the same degree of passion for guitars as my dad does; I honestly don't know if anyone could, but I do have a passion for learning, as well as an itch to create beautiful, tangible, things. So, I have decided to take a pause from pursuing a career in environmental law, and learn from this incredible artist while I have the opportunity to do so. I think passing on such a skill is important, and while I have my own interests aside from guitar making, I feel this is a gift that should not be passed up.

I also plan to incorporate my interest and concern for the environment into my guitar making experience. I hope to use more sustainable (I said more, not totally) hardwoods such as local Maple and Walnut rather than exotic, endangered woods that are so popular among the guitar collector community. I aim to construct instruments that provide similar sound and beauty as ones boasting a back and sides constructed of Brazilian Rosewood, but with less environmental impacts. We will see how it goes.

I also want to explain a little bit about my experience, living in the shadow of someone who shares so much of his time and life with anyone who shows up at his door. I grew up mostly with my mom, but would frequently visit Rugby, and be around my dad, but rarely with my dad. His profession made it difficult to form any sort of deep relationship with him because he was always working (in a shop filled with dangerous machines that, I am sure, are any parent's nightmare). Don't get me wrong though, I love my dad so very much, and appreciate all of the experiences his choices afforded me growing up. It has shaped who I am today-extremely independent and strong-willed, and of those qualities, I am proud.

But, I want to know him better, and to do that, I have to spend my time in his world. It turns out, it is not such a bad place. The shop here is always attracting the most interesting visitors. Every day someone new arrives, and something else exciting happens. I have helped my dad make two of his guitars, and he has helped me make three. Today, I am starting my forth, and look forward to sharing that experience with you (though, I bet 'you' are just my mom, and maybe my fiance...thanks for reading guys, love you!)

So, that is the motivation behind my writing this blog. I want to record and share the goings-on around here, so others (guitar crazies like Mike Segui, who live too far away to visit as often as they might like) can vicariously experience a little of this strange world that revolves around my dad, and so I can enjoy reading it later as I know I will miss this experience as soon as it is finished, whenever that may be.


  1. This is really awesome, Elle!!
    I look forward to hearing about your journey...


  2. Hey Miss Elle Jayne,

    I love it! This will make a great book, down the road.
    Thank you for sharing a little bit of your life and times with your dad.

    See y'all soon!

  3. I won one of your Dad's ukuleles last summer at PSGW ( #15) It is a treasured instrument for sure. Thanks for having this blog....I wish that I could have time with my Dad in the way that you can with yours. He has been gone now for 8 years. You have made an awesome decision to put your career on hold and hang with your Dad! The experience will be priceless!

    Happy trails,
    Patti Hansen

  4. Jayne--

    Very cool--both the blog and your plan. I'll be watching!


  5. you are AWESOME!!! you had me hooked from the first word! i read it all and loved it! :)

  6. Well Spencer, I wouldn't have continued without your support... :-*

  7. I'm just starting my first guitar, and am anxious to read more! Thanks for sharing!