Biography

I grew up in a very academic and artistic family, exposed to art and music from my earliest childhood. I began building guitars during my college years, and was fortunate to live in the same town with an established maker, Harley Day, with whom I apprenticed for my first guitar in 1970, at age 19. Our influences in those days were the top Spanish makers such as Ramirez, Fleta, Contreras and others, as well as a few established and excellent American and English makers. I was inspired by gala evenings at the house of importer Hart Huttig in Miami (Hart had built the house himself in old Spanish country style from native Florida coral stones he had excavated). We enjoyed the camaraderie of other prominent builders of that time (many of whom still build at top level, e.g., Robert Ruck, Richard Brune) and guitarists like Jaun Mercadal, the Romeros, and others who paid respect to Hart with a visit whenever they were on tour in the region. I developed a zeal for the music, the instruments and the culture of classical and flamenco guitar and set up my own shop in 1971.

In 1972 I moved to Olympia, Washington to attend Evergreen State College, where I designed and implemented a program of study for construction of historical instruments, drawing upon every resource available to me - from archival books and blueprints in museums to visits with makers and schools in America, England and Germany. In 1974 I returned to St. Petersburg and continued building guitars as well as historical instruments. Meanwhile, Harley had completed his third harpsichord and we subsequently formed the partnership Day & Batell, Instrument Makers. Although we continued accepting commissions for guitars, we specialized primarily in Harpsichords, Lutes, Vihuelas and Viola Da Gambas. We sold to many universities, professionals and their students and attended and spoke at many early music symposia and conclaves during the 70’s and early 80’s.

By the mid 80’s, for economic reasons, Harley returned to his former career of structural engineering. By the late 80’s I had finished the last instruments on commission and used my woodworking expertise to develop an alternative career and company in the field of architectural millwork. By the early 90's I had specialized in traditional and historic windows and doors, mostly for Landmarks projects in New York City. Essential to the success of that endeavor was my close understanding of historic woodworking techniques and an ability to work directly with project architects toward both aesthetic and engineering solutions.

In 2007, deciding for a significant change in my life and direction, I moved to Berlin . Experiencing the highly cultural environment and lifestyle of Berlin and having Europe at my fingertips, I was inspired to return to instrument making, focusing now on classical and flamenco guitars. Approaching the field with a refreshed vision, supported by the resources now available in the age information technologies, and drawing upon my continuous experience at the highest level in practically all fields of woodworking, I am achieving new levels of musicality and consistency with my instruments. I am building full time, as well as exhibiting regularly at festivals and symposia throughout Europe. I fully engage the world of classical guitar, attending concerts, meeting as many professionals as possible and following many master-classes. I host a concert series in my gallery/workshop in Berlin (see "Events" page of this website, often updated with a schedule of up-coming concerts) and this year I will offer apprenticeships again as Harley and I did over 30 years ago(see "Apprenticeships" page coming soon). Harley and I are still in regular contact and collaborate as ever on many aspects of building thought from aesthetic design to acoustics theory.