GAL Staff

Tim Olsen - Guild of American Luthiers

Tim Olsen is the Guild’s Founding Editor and along with our Founding Father JR Beall, got the GAL started back in 1972. His commitment to the Guild’s principles of openness and sharing is evident in his stewardship of the Guild over the last forty-five+ years. Tim has edited, rewritten, clarified, complied, corrected, and/or combed over every article in every journal and book published by the Guild. In addition to his work on Guild publications, Tim does much of the technical development and project planning that keeps the Guild’s operation humming. Tim is a member of the Guild’s Board of Directors and serves as President. Tim’s interest in lutherie started early: he started his first guitar at age twelve. He was operating his own shop at seventeen, and completed his professional lutherie career in his mid-twenties, when he began dedicating his full time work to the Guild and its publications. On his 52nd birthday, Tim began a twenty-year Virtual Global Circumambulation. That is, he plans to log 24,902 miles of walking before his 72nd birthday. As of this writing he is about 14 years and 16,000 miles into it.

Deb Olsen - Guild of American Luthiers

Deb Olsen manages the Guild office, projects, and finances, works on proofreading and style for Guild publications and website, handles advertising accounts for AL, plans GAL conventions, posts on social media, writes ad and email copy, and a bunch of other stuff. She’s been doing this since she helped her boyfriend Tim put out the first Guild of American Luthiers Newsletter back in 1973. Deb is a member of the Guild’s Board of Directors and serves as Treasurer. She is interested in Victorian-era Aesthetic Movement design, and in learning together with children and adults on how to build community based on the principles the Baha’i Faith.


Bon Henderson started out typing the early GAL Newsletters and has been working for the Guild ever since. Bon handles our our incoming mail, does customer service, sends email announcements, helps with membership updating and order fulfillment, creates ad art, helps with planning conventions and lots of other stuff. Bon is a member of the Guild’s Board of Directors and serves as Secretary. She also is the artist who designed the GAL logo. In her other life, she is the drummer for the legendary NW rock band Girl Trouble.


Kurt Kendall started working for the Guild in the early ’90s. Kurt is our mail room guy whose main job is updating memberships and fulfilling all the orders that come in to GALHQ. If you’ve been to our conventions, you will know Kurt from the sales table, or from his highly entertaining performances as the master of ceremonies/auctioneer at our benefit auctions. Kurt also performs as the lead singer in the legendary NW rock band Girl Trouble, and keeps promising Deb that we are going to have an in-office karaoke party.


Steve McElrath, our newest staff member, started working for the Guild in 2011. Steve prepares the photos for publication in American Lutherie, our books, and our website. He has been doing a bunch of work to figure out and get our new website up and running. Steve also publishes art books and they’re available at


Dale Phillips started working for the Guild in the late ’80s. He does all kinds of jobs like printing our full-scale instrument plans, photo prep work, wholesale book sales, bulk mailings, and working on our website, along with various and sundry other stuff. He also is the friendly guy who manages the auction room at our conventions. Dale is the legendary bass player for the NW rock band Girl Trouble.

Board of Directors

In addition to Tim Olsen, Deb Olsen, and Bon Henderson, these two fine folks round out our Board of Directors:


Todd Brotherton is a professional fine furniture maker and luthier and has been a Guild member continuously since 1978. The first GAL Convention he attended was in Boston in 1979, and he has attended many more since then. Starting with our first auction at the Greensboro convention in 1984, Todd proved himself to be a member that the staff could rely on to help in the clutch. Todd is dedicated to the Guild’s ideals and has show this dedication in his years of service. In 1995, Todd began his work as our official convention coordinator, a job which he has continued through all subsequent conventions. Anyone who has attended a GAL Convention in the last decade and a half has seen the fruits of Todd’s labors. Todd resides in Mt. Shasta, CA with his wife Peg and their many rescued dogs.


Bob Petrulis was Tim’s guitar making partner when the Guild started publishing in the early ’70s. Bob published several of our early newsletters before he made the wise decision to go on to a career in accounting, and then earning his PhD in higher education. Bob has continued his interest in the Guild. He provided assistance in obtaining our nonprofit IRS status and did the Guild’s federal tax filings for many years. Bob has two grown daughters and lives in Columbia, SC where he runs his own educational consulting firm, EPRE Consulting.