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Accidental Exotics

Accidental Exotics

by Mike Brittain

previously published in American Lutherie #95, 2008

My interest in guitars started when I was four years old and spotted a baritone uke at my granddad’s house. I started playing guitar at eight and played in garage bands until I went into business as a cabinet maker in 1971 at age eighteen. In 1975 I decided to build a guitar. It looked similar to a guitar, but was not an object to be proud of. However, I persisted and eventually built twenty-three guitars in the next eight years. I was a GAL member during some of that time and got a lot of inspiration from many GAL authors and members. In 1983 I decided to quit building guitars to concentrate on my growing cabinet business.

In 1997 my granddad passed away. He knew how much that ukulele meant to me, so he left it to me. That inspired me to start building again. For the first time in fifteen years, I opened the case of my guitar #23. To my surprise, I was pretty impressed. It looked good and sounded good, and there were no cracks. My first new project was based on the baritone uke, and I gave it to my dad in honor of my granddad. At that point I was hooked on building again. In 1999 I sold my business and started attending classes with Charles Fox, Cameron Carr, Greg Byers, Jeff Elliott, and Cyndy Burton. I have spent the last four years working with Augie and Donna LoPrinzi. I have been fortunate to spend time learning from my lutherie heroes.

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