Fairbanks Guitars was incorporated in 2011, but my love for old guitars stretches back to 1989, when I saw Paul Geremia for the first time at a house concert in Rhode Island. I was completely entranced by his performance and, later, by the guitars used to make his style of music. I quickly became obsessed with Paul's influences, wearing the grooves out on records attempting to learn one lick or another from the original masters. My first 'real' guitar was a 1965 Epiphone El Dorado- what a great guitar! It was a square shouldered dreadnought with a huge headstock and skinny neck that, when played with a slide, sounded like a train locking up its brakes. I loved it, but the two inch string spacing at the bridge wasn't ideal for a fingerpicker-in-training, to say the least.
After the Epiphone was stolen from the trunk of my car on Hemenway St. in Boston while attending Berklee College of Music for trumpet (an instrument that still has me pinned to the mat on most days), I splurged on my second 'real' guitar: a 1936 Gibson L-OO. The Gibson was everything the Epiphone wasn't: sweet and funky and bouncy, with that early Gibson string spacing that's perfect for guys with thick digits. Alas, the L-OO was sold a few short years later for rent money, a fact of which I am not proud, but a ubiquitous one among guitar people. We were young and desperate, what can you do?
In 2000, I began building my first guitar on the piazza (a charming name for my not-so-charming 3 season porch) of my Brighton apartment. It was supposed to be a Leadbelly style 12 string and ended up mostly that, five years later. By this time I had the bug and started gathering tools for the long haul, studying old guitars and digging through the internet for tips and tricks. Upon reflection, I would have ramped up much faster if I had taken a course on guitar making, but then again, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn by studying all the old guitars that I've had the good fortune to get my hands on. I am self-taught, which means that I was the apprentice to an idiot, but every mistake I've made has been a true learning experience, essential to my honest growth as a builder. I wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way.
These days, we build our vintage reproductions out of our home in West Hartford, CT, where I live with my wife, Erin, and, as of January 2015, our three boys, Calvin, Zephaniah and Kingston. I am thankful for every day that I am able to go to the shop and build instruments for the most discerning clients in the world, and make a living doing it. It truly brings me great joy.
"Two members of my maternal family, the Cases', relaxin' in West Virginia."