"Becoming a luthier was a very pleasant surprise in life. As a young boy my parents and I purchased a viola from a violin maker and repairman who told me "you have workman's hands". An interesting thing to say to a budding musician, but in the end, it was true. As it came to pass, nearly twelve years later in 1972 , I began my studies as a violin maker/ repairman with this very man, Mr. Ed Hunnington, in California.
My mother, of course, had her hand in this "surprise". In 1970, desperately searching for a Christmas present for a son who was interested in everything, she, for some reason, bought me a Dulcimer kit. I so enjoyed building that instrument on the dining room table of my apartment, using a couple of hand tools and books for clamps, I had to try building another which eventually led to other types of folk instruments.
Another craftsmen friend encouraged me to build a guitar. With some trepidation I did, and then I built another and another and so on. Two whirlwind years later, I was studying violin making and repair while serving a two year apprenticeship with the above mentioned luthier.
Then I opened my own repair shop in the basement of a music store, where I repaired and restored every type of acoustic stringed instrument imaginable. I continued building as well. My tool collection grew along the way, to where I had more than just books to use as clamps. Hand tools prevailed as they still do today.
In 1976 I went to Europe and studied extant instruments in many of the famous museums. With encouragement from Michael Lorimer, I also spent a month working intensely with the well known Dutch lute and guitar maker, Nico van der Waals.
I returned home to feed my passion for luthiery. Five years of college was enough for me. Building guitars, many styles of lutes, vihuelas, harpsichords, baroque guitars, harps etc., and keeping my hand in repair and restoration, I worked fifteen hours a day or more, often seven days a week. The desire to attain a deeper understanding of my art burned in me.
Over twenty five years later, the passion to build the finest instruments possible is stronger than ever. I've narrowed my focus to primarily classical and flamenco guitars, and a few 19th century and baroque guitars. This continued drive has, of course, been fueled by too many people to mention. To them I owe a great deal of thanks, and to my many customers I promise to put all my experience and knowledge into each instrument I build. What else can I possibly do; I can't help myself."
Visit his website here: http://www.traphagenguitars.com