Thursday, August 2, 2012

keith's workshop

Lisa recently wrote a post about the value of networking, and I can tell you that she lives this. Last fall when I was visiting and noticed her ukuleles, I asked if she'd ever thought about learning to play—the idea had just recently begun to take shape in my own head.

Lisa instantly said yes, mentioned her musician/luthier friend Keith, and picked up the phone to call him right then and there. After Keith had patched up the Gaspar uke, he gave us a couple of introductory lessons.

Fast forward 9 months and now I'm happy to call Keith a friend of my own (thank you, Lisa). He has taught us many more things since that day, met my music-obsessed son C and invited him to play trumpet—an instrument C was not at all comfortable on but willing to do with Keith's encouragement—in his Friends of the Library band, and has of late taken time out of his always-busy schedule to guide C in building a lap steel guitar.

C and I went to visit this week when I asked Keith to set up the new concert ukulele DH gave me for my birthday. His barn workshop is a fun place, because you never know what you will see upon entering.

cases & necks
tools, bundles of horsehair, vintage radio equipment
banjos, bandsaw, molds
chair seat made from a drum head
baritone ukulele parts
an assortment hanging from the stairs
3-string MJB coffee "canjo"
Next to it, an 8-string ??? made from...
...a Dutch oven lid
custom guitar stenciled with a design by Keith's friend, Bob Armstrong

And these pictures barely scratch the surface. There are rows of violins, a sousaphone modified with parts from the hardware store, a gigantic harmonica, and lots of wood. There was a pot of beeswax left over after Keith had spun off his honey; he also keeps bees.

Outside, he had rigged up a solar wax warmer to melt this down into candle wax.

I've loaded this post with photos even though they're not the best, because it's the only way to convey how rich and amazing Keith's workshop is. Maybe you can understand why C and I love to visit. It looks like somewhere you could discover anything at all, doesn't it?

Be sure to visit Keith's website, particularly his instructions for making instruments with kids:


  1. I *most certainly* will (visit his website & instructions for making instruments with kids. I have vivid memories of making instruments with my brother as kids. I really do miss real coffee cans! but shoe boxes & oatmeal canisters are good, too!)

  2. Magic! It is pure magic there. The kids and I would LOVE to see all that. I especially love the dutch oven banjo! What a great space I'm so glad you shared this.


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