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A Friendly Interview with Donald Warnock

A Friendly Interview with Donald Warnock

by David B. Sheppard

previously published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly 8 #2, 1980

Could you say something about when and how you happened to get into instrument building? How did you choose early instruments as opposed to making copies of Martin guitars?

My interest in musical instruments came through a generalized association of the guitar with good times and nice sounds. It was the typical instrument when I was growing up. I was always charmed by the possibilities and the actuality of the guitar as a music making machine. As I grew up, I became interested in the fine arts and spent a lot of time studying and practicing as a painter. However, I found that I didn’t really want to pursue a career as a fine artist because I wasn’t much interested in promoting my work or producing a consistent body of work. What I like to do is stand in front of an easel and explore visual possibilities. That was getting me nowhere as far as establishing myself as a self-sustaining individual. I did other things for awhile, among which was restoration of prints, drawings and paintings. I was fascinated with ancient methods and the incredible results that were possible when a tradition which was extremely practical in the decorative and the visual dine arts was handed down from master to apprentice. The ease with which materials could be manipulated in an artistic way always intrigued me. This kind of exploration, although I didn’t pursue it fully in painting, has turned out to be very useful in certain aspects of instrument making such as varnishing, carving or the designing of decorative elements.

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