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About 5 years ago my kids chipped in and bought me a guitar for Father's Day with the intention of enticing me to start playing again. I had been a player/singer/songwriter back in my younger days, but had put it aside in favor raising a family. I have no regrets about that decision, but something has been sleeping inside me for 25 or so years and it didn't take long for their intentions to work out as planned. I had owned some very nice guitars back in the day and I soon developed a desire to have my 6 string Bozo, Guild D40, Taylor 12 string and Guild F212 back in my hands. They were my favorites and the last to go when I sold all my gear. The Washburn they bought me was a nice little guitar, but it did not have the quality that my former instruments had.

I began buying guitars that were dumpster material and restoring them to their original playing condition as I didn't have it in my budget to go out and buy all those expensive guitars back. I learned a lot about the construction of guitars during this time, but somehow the itch I had for a superior sounding guitar was not being scratched. I think I played every acoustic guitar in a 200-mile radius and still couldn't find what I was looking for until I made it into a certain guitar store and picked up a handmade guitar by a local luthier. I just couldn't put it down. None of the other guitars in the store even came close; not the Martins, Taylors, Guilds, Larrivees or anything else. This particular guitar had a price tag that was out of my range so it was there that I decided, that if a handmade guitar can sound that much better than a production guitar, it was time I learned to build them myself.

I had worked with wood all my life as a furniture maker, carpenter, guitar repairman and on to a building contractor and the idea of putting my years of experience to good use in my golden years seemed to make all the sense in the world. I'm 63 and lifting heavy lumber no longer appeals to me. So I gave it a try and absolutely loved it, in fact you might say it became a passion. "What is this one going to sound like when it's finished?" It was simply thrilling. And that, my friends, is why I do it. Because I love it so much I have built way more guitars than I can play or store. (Still married and in love and I want to keep it that way) So once in a while I let one or two go. I try my best to improve on each one and so far have never built 2 alike.

The 6 string finger style guitars are my favorite projects especially the smaller OO and OOO size. I have built dreads, OO, OOO, jumbos, 12 strings and a couple of classical. But I am proud of what I have been able to do with the smaller finger style guitars. The mixtures of different woods, the bracing configurations, it's all fun to me to hear these different woods ring out a song and with a different voice each time.

That is my story but there are those who have helped along the way and I would be amiss if I didn’t thank my friend Sparky, a master guitar builder, for all his help and instructions when I was learning how to build guitars. He is Randall Kramer of Randall Kramer Guitars whom I consider one of the best builders in this country. He took me in as a virtual stranger, tutored me, allowed me to build in his shop, use his tools and copy his jigs and forms. His only demand was that I washed my hands whenever I picked up one of his guitars. Thank you so much Sparky, you have no idea what that meant to me.

And, of course, there are the little women who have endured with much patience, my passion. Thank you, sweetheart, for letting me go do my thing.

Lastly, but certainly not the least, I thank my creator for placing in my genes the skill and ability to express my creativity in this way. He knew long before I did that it would give me great pleasure to build guitars. Thank you Lord. You are indeed a good and loving Father.

Terry Heilig
Luthier
Truckee, CA