Studio grew out of my passion for music and fine musical
instruments. It comprises a collection of various pieces: a retail
store, where we display the fruit of our labor, to the heart of
the operation—the repair and restoration rooms, along with
my personal passion, the new-instrument construction rooms. Woodsound
Studio is unusual in the stringed instrument world in that we work
with both orchestral and fretted instruments. We do any and all
forms of restoration and repair in the most artistic manner, for
both types of instruments.
my name is Ron Pinkham. I am both a native and lover of the state
of Maine. When I began my musical career as a youth playing the
violin, I was one of the few in rural Vermont at that time, where
my father was a pastor. As my interest in the violin waned, my
family moved to Boston, and I was thrust into a new milieu—the
coffee house, where I spent the obligatory year playing bongo
and listening to the poetry of the late beat generation and the
emerging folk boom. I switched to the flamenco guitar as my choosen
instrument, and that evolved into my love for classical guitar.
Music has always been with me, and that led me toward a career
in performance and teaching for the classical guitar. My formal
training began in the middle 1960s in the Boston area and continued
Ramos in Mexico City and later with the Romero
family in southern California, where I attended the
University of California, Santa Barbara.
Upon completion of my formal studies in 1975 I left southern
California, $3000 in hand, looking for my concert guitar. I traveled
all over America in my trusty VW looking in classical guitar shops
in all the major cities I could drive to in my homeward meanderings.
I was disappointed with the guitars I found, predominantly because
of their lack of balance. Not wanting to pursue a life on the
road, I decided against a career as a touring musician and returned
to my hometown of Lincolnville, Maine, where I embarked on a career
as a teacher and builder-restorer of stringed instruments. After
a few years of repair work and new guitar development, I saw opportunites
to expand my business into orchestral instrument work. My special
new love was l’archet, the orchestral bow, right-hand magic
for the violin family.
Woodsound Studio began in my living room, where I lived and breathed
instruments until the business outgrew my home and moved to its
first building on the family land. A couple of years later I was
invited to open a shop in the nearby town of Camden. Our name
spread and the business grew. Eventually I was offered the opportunity
to build our current 4,200-square-foot home in a commercial district
on U.S. Route 1. We moved to this location in 1989. The Woodsound
building lies nestled in the hillside above Clam Cove in the hamlet
of Glen Cove, a small seaside borough of Rockport,
The first floor comprises the showrooms, where we display and
sell restored vintage instruments, new fretted and orchestral
stringed instruments and bows. Also on the first floor are the
teaching studios and office. The second floor houses the heart
of the operation, a workshop where we do repair and restoration
work, a very well-equiped central machine room and rough-out area,
and a new-instrument assembly and humidity-controlled room for
glue up and humidity-sensitive repairs.
While most shops specialize in either
repairs or new instrument construction, either fretted or orchestral
instruments, we do both, including bow work. We own well over 200
instruments of all quality ranges, student to advanced professional
level. In the summer we are the shop of choice for many
of the world-class professionals who come to Maine to play at the
Chamber Concerts, Kneisel
Hall (Julliard Summer), Bowdoin
Summer Festival, and the Pierre
Monteux School of Conducting. We regularly see and
maintain old Italian, French, and German orchestral masterpieces
and fretted instruments from around the world. Visit the Repair
& Restorations pages.
The art and history of the guitar
and violin families have sustained and fulfilled my need to constantly
learn and to use the musical ear I have developed through years
as a practicing musician and teacher. My fascination with the
guitar has remained strong, and I have developed a number of new
designs for both classical and steel string guitars. In addition,
I build a number of the traditional forms and brace patterns.
Learn more about this in the Instruments
We Build pages.
John has been at Woodsound Studio since 1990 and he heads
the Repair and Restoration department of the shop.
He began exploring musical instruments by building dulcimers
while attending Hobart College, from which he graduated in 1979.
In 1980-81 he attended Boston University’s Program in Artisanry,
where he studied Historical Stringed Instrument Making under noted
viol and lute maker Donald Warnock. There, he received a solid
foundation in traditional instrument-making techniques and the
use of traditional materials, which has served him well over the
years. John continued to gain experience while restoring antique
furniture at Abacus Antiques in Newbury, Massachusetts. Later,
moving to Amherst, he began working at Fretted Instrument Workshop.
In his tenure at Woodsound, as well as during his previous work,
John has seen and worked on an incredibly wide variety of instruments—the
finest violins, violas, and cellos, vintage Martin guitars, Gibson
mandolins, and banjos of all sorts—literally any instrument
with strings. John believes there is something to be learned from
every specimen that crosses his workbench, and through his exposure
to all these he has continued to hone his skills and deepen his
insights into the mysteries of what it is that makes a fine musical
John builds a variety of mandolin family instruments: carved-top
mandolins, mandolas, octave-mandolins, and citterns, all of his
own design; designs that are informed by his broad experience
with instruments from the past but which also which incorporate
modern elements and current understandings of acoustics.
John is a woodworker and craftsman in the broadest sense of the
word. Whether it is cutting firewood, designing and building his
house, restoring his classic 24' sailboat, or restoring the finest
old stringed instruments, John brings his vast experience, his
inventiveness and insight to the work at hand.
Read about Blodgett
mandolins in the Instruments
We Build pages.
What is the Fine Art of Luthierie?
Luthier (from the old French for lute maker) is a maker and/or
restorer of acoustic stringed instruments. Some luthiers specialize
in work on fretted instruments—guitar, mandolin, lute, etc.—while
others concentrate on the bowed orchestral instruments—violin,
viola, cello, bass. A luthier may also specialize in the making
and restoring of bows. In our shop, different members of our staff
specialize in each of these areas while being proficient in all
Our goal over the years has consistently
been to apply the highest standards of craftsmanship to each project
we undertake. A few of our most interesting projects are profiled
in these pages.
My Goals as a Luthier
When I started my quest as a luthier, it was as a young man trying
to produce an instrument with exceptional balance, power and a
warm brilliant sound, something I couldn't find when I left school.
Repairs though, were the bread and butter of the business, and
my only goal was to do it better, make the instrument at hand
play and sound at an optimum, so anyone could learn and play more
easily. A beginner does not need an instrument with world-class
sound, although that would be nice. What they need, is an instrument
that plays like a professional’s. Being a long-time teacher
and player of classical guitar, I believe playability and balance
I suppose my parents’ motto of “Good, better, best,
never let it rest, 'til your good is better and your better is
best” has been my approach to all things in life and is
well suited to the demands of the precise building and restoration
skills needed for the fine art of lutherie. As a young man I did
it again and again, if it wasn't right, I did it over until it
was and the skill was mastered. You will see that skill in all
the work we do at Woodsound Studio, from beginner- to master-level
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