A young child sat beneath the work bench. She heard her dad humming, heard the scrape of a rasp across wood freshly released from clamps. Smells of maple and walnut and rosewood and glue. Shavings danced in the air, shimmering through beams of sun, dropping into her hideout like snow into a tree fort. When people hear Wayne’s daughter is now a successful luthier, they might picture it all started like this . . .
. . . it is not what happened. The real story? More “21st century” involving exorbitant college debt, an environmental law degree, a way out of debt learning a skill her father could teach her. In time, learning something about herself. She liked working with wood, creating the instrument. Hearing it sing at completion, having people find her efforts had value. Enough value to pay college bills. Enough for everything . . .
Watching Jayne work, it’s quickly apparent there is no “shadow” across her. She’s working side by side with her dad, famous luthier Wayne Henderson. If Jayne gets stuck, or has a question, sure is nice to have dad there to consult! And maybe someone to point out the hard way will make a better instrument?
Jayne specializes in exactly what I want, a smaller guitar (with a short scale, please). She uses premium materials. Her teacher, the finest in America. The shop, perfectly situated for consult with peers or to borrow a tool. The wait time, two years, manageable – everybody gets in line. Just like her dad, she makes every single component of the instrument herself, except the strings and tuners (are they next?).
“It sounds like a Henderson” – Doc Watson, December 14 2011
Yep, I could visit Acoustic Vibe and walk out with a Custom Shop Martin 000 or a beautiful Collings OM3 Short Scale. Would the sound or the price or the guitar be any different? I’d have a high-end guitar like a lot of other people. Or I could order an EJ Henderson and have something special. Love and patience and jokes and banter and memories; years of combined knowledge and skills, all rolled up in an inanimate object that . . . lives. Hey, if I can’t take delivery, after waiting two years, there is no pressure to buy. There’s a line. The next person will be offered the instrument. Am I trying to talk myself into placing an order?
EmiSunshine plays Jayne’s personal ukulele . . .
Note from AmericanToolbox: We began reading Jayne’s blog, The Luthier’s Apprentice, after her ATB entry was written and edited down to what you see here. We recommend her blog, which reads more like a history/diary. Start with the oldest. Read a few entries every night.