How long does it take you to build an instrument?
This is, without a doubt, my most frequently asked question. And my stock answer: All doggoned day. Most of the time, I don't know exactly how many hours I have invested; I'm working on several instruments at a time, and I forget to look at my watch as I switch back and forth. Truthfully, I'm more interested in how well the job is done than in how long it takes. For the last several years I've averaged 12 instruments per year, or one a month.
How many instruments have you built?
As of December 2016, I'm working on my 171st instrument.
If I give you an order, when can you start on mine?
I manage my order file so that it totals months, not years; if an order pushes it beyond that, I'll take it later. In most cases, I'll get started sooner than you think. If you're a picker, you move ahead of collectors.
What's the secret to the "Skipper" sound?
In as few words as possible, I pay attention. I've worked with wood my entire life, and I've learned that every piece of wood has a unique personality. As I work the wood, I listen to what it tells me: how stiff it is, both with and across the grain; how resonant; how dense; how tough or brittle. When I've learned these things, I'll know both which other woods to match it with and also how to shape it -- another area that requires attention. Graduated tops should do just that, and not get thin and then thick again. The structural and acoustic properties of a top with a thickness of .110" is vastly different than one .120", and either could be correct for a particular guitar. The finish is not just a part of the aesthetic value of an instrument, but also has structural and acoustic properties that have to be factored into the equation. The constant evaluation and management of these and other factors results in a superior, consistent sound.
Who owns Skipper instruments?
To date: war heroes; pipefitters; laborers; college professors; counselors; carpenters; mutual fund managers; FBI agents; engineers; musicians of all degree, amateur to professional; truck drivers; road inspectors; lawyers; wildlife biologists; rednecks; definitely non-rednecks; retail store owners; metal fabricators; symphony contra-basoonists; symphony violinists; HVAC contractors; music teachers; fighter pilots; real estate agents; plumbers; judges; collectors; machinists; housing managers; golf course superintendents; college music students; doctors; writers;sales managers; ________ (I'd love to put your occupation here)
Do you have repeat customers?
A number of folks own multiple Skipper instruments: two, three, six, even -- wait for it -- thirty plus! My instruments are being played in every area of the country.