Woodsound Studio - The Fine Art of Luthierie Since 1975 - Who We Are
 


Who We Are

Woodsound 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.

Hello, 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 with Manual 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, Maine.

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 Bay 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 Blodgett

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 instrument.

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?

A 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 of them.

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 are everything.

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 instrument.


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