Bruce and I want to thank Kyle for letting us participate in his new blog and look forward to writing some articles and your comments! I, Mary Weber, wife of Bruce, will be writing the first few articles as Bruce is a bit under-the-weather right now.
Kyle asked me to start by telling a little about our new business, Montana Lutherie. For those who don’t know Bruce, I consider him totally ‘The Mandolin Man’. He worked for The Flatiron Mandolin and Banjo Co. before Gibson bought it, then for Gibson in many different roles including assisting Steve Carlson in getting Gibson’s acoustic guitar shop built and running. We then started Weber Fine Acoustic Instruments in 1997 and were blessed to build many fine mandolins, mandolas, octaves, mandocellos, arch topped guitars, resonator guitars (and some unique combinations like the Octar) for our wonderful Weber players. We sold Weber Fine Acoustic Instruments in 2012 and Bruce helped integrate Weber into the new company until last March when they parted ways. Bruce Jr. who had been building alongside his dad from almost the beginning, along with the crew of Weber luthiers, is still working in Bend Oregon.
For the time being Bruce, from our shop in Montana, is performing warranty and non-warranty work on Weber Instruments along with repairs and maintenance on all other brands of mandolin family instruments. We started Montana Lutherie to incorporate the repairs, tune ups, parts building and installing (such as bridges, pickguards, pickups, custom armrests and trussrod covers, and any out of the ordinary stuff people ask for (although it has been a long time since anyone has asked for a verzi). Bruce loves the eight string family and is open to almost any repair or maintenance job.
We also have some fun ideas for products that we didn’t have time to do earlier but think you will enjoy. We’ll be introducing these in a while along with a new website.
Your instrument has been a big investment monetarily, but also in time and music, creating an intimate relationship which should be guarded. If you are unsure what your local repair person is capable of, or their understanding of carved instruments, please consider contacting The Mandolin Man to talk it over.
‘I Believe the mechanical arts have a special significance for our time because they cultivate not creativity, but the less glamorous virtue of attentiveness. Things need fixing and tending no less than creating.’
Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work
Bruce has always enjoyed repair work and took in many Flatirons, Gibsons of all ages, plus the miscellaneous fiddle, banjo, etc. over the years when time permitted. For instance, he received (from a very sad guy) a pair of Montana built Gibson A5L and F5L mandolins that were in a flood. Well, it took two years but he restored them. It’s quite satisfying.
We always wanted all Webers out there to look, sound and play as perfectly as possible and encouraged players to send them back to the shop for any needed work- sooner rather than later if an issue arose. I shipped and received instruments for many years and would watch Bruce as he opened the case of a repair. The first thing he does is pick up the instrument and take a big sniff! Sounds kind of weird, but he could always get a good Idea of how the instrument had been treated. He would run his hands over them giving them a good once over, tune them up and listen, using all his senses to get familiar with the instrument. Ok, maybe not all. I’ve never seen him lick one.
This leads us into the topic of our first repair article, under the heading of PREVENTION. You can avoid much frustration, and even despair, by following two guidelines that we’ll talk about soon.
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