Hasty Guitars began from an inspiration provided to me through the tragic loss of a very close friend. I spend as much time as possible down in the beautiful Florida Keys. It was around the year 2000, during one of my fishing adventures, that I met Larry (Red) Seidman. At the time, Red was a professional musician and made a living performing various venues from Key Largo to Key West. He was one of the best fiddle and mandolin players that I had ever known or heard. Because of our common interests, fishing, flying and a stint at training horses, we became close friends. We spent many hours together listening to and playing music and quite a bit of time fishing. Without knowing it at the time, a whole new world was about to open up for me.
During one of our fishing expeditions, Red informed me that full time music making and gigging 6 nights a week was starting to take a toll on himself and his marriage. Since I knew how blessed a musician Red was, I could not believe that he would consider doing anything else. I asked him how he thought that he could pay his bills doing something else and he informed me that he had considerable wood working experience and had built several instruments. His plan was to build custom acoustic guitars in order to subsidize his income and allow him to take more time off from his performance schedule. Since his shop would be set up in his home in the North Georgia mountains, he would have more time to spend with his wife.
I must confess that up until that moment I had never even considered or thought about hand crafted guitars. I didn’t even realize that there was such a thing and that there was a whole industry out there that practiced this art. Being caught up in the conversation, I offered to Red that in order to give him a real incentive to pursue his dream, I would be his first customer. A deal was struck and he was off and running.
After many months and many phone calls to discuss the various aspects of the guitar’s construction, I began to get caught up in the process. There were several visits to the Keys where we would rendezvous and Red would show me the raw instrument and explain the various construction processes. I remember on one such visit he had a performance at a local bar and grill in Islamorada. I was impressed that he went to great lengths to park his car under a palm tree so that the South Florida sun would not distort his precious wood. He explained to me that wood is always moving and that temperature extremes as well as humidity swings could be devastating to a nice instrument. With the pieces of wood starting to resemble a guitar and this constant flow of new knowledge I was hooked.
About a week after one of our extended phone conversations,to discuss the upcoming finishing process, I received a call from Red’s wife, Diane. At the age of 50 Red had suffered a massive heart attack and was gone. The shock was unbelievable and the hundreds of questions going through my mind had my emotions in a tail spin. How did this happen? What about the guitar? How was Diane going to make it? I told her to call me when the arrangements were complete and I would pick up the guitar at Red’s service.
The memorial service was held at the Hog’s Breath Saloon in Key West, very fitting for a character like Red who was at home on the stage as he was in his own bedroom. Many, many musicians were there that just wanted to share in the experience. The jam session lasted well into the night and at the close Diane presented me with pieces of a guitar in a cardboard box. I paid her for the guitar and went home.
After many months of staring at this unfinished creation of Red’s, I became overwhelmed by a strong feeling that I would be the one to finish what Red had started. With absolutely no woodworking experience and not knowing even where to start, I began the research process. I did have an Engineering back ground and through the years had developed an analytical mind. I was even blessed with an artistic and musical element. I thought to myself, I can do this. What I did not have was the foundation education and basic elements of woodworking and guitar construction.
To jump start the process, I enrolled in an in-depth six week course in Guitar repair and construction at Atlanta Guitar Works. It was during this time that I gained fundamental knowledge in guitar basics. I even built a solid body electric and an acoustic and finished Red’s guitar.
A year went by and it seemed that I had more questions than answers. I went back to Atlanta Guitar Works and spent six more weeks. This time I focused strictly on construction. Things began to click and I began to understand the processes.
It was about this time that I made a road trip up to the Canadian border where I spent seven days working with Master Inlay artist, Dave Nichols at Custom Pearl Inlay. Dave taught me the intracacies of cutting shell and inlaying them into various medians. I found out that I had an undiscovered talent and things really started to get fun.
I spent the next year setting up my shop and started a few projects. I was still missing something and felt a strong desire for more knowledge. I found it in the studio of William Cumpiano, Master Luthier and co-author of “Guitarmaking Tradition and Technology”. The two weeks that I spent with William really turned on the light and I felt that for the first time the technology became comfortable. In this industry, education is ongoing.
At Hasty Guitars I focus strictly on steel six string acoustics. I truly believe that every instrument is inspired and that there is a deep spiritual underlying as to why Hasty Guitars came to be. There is a reason for everything and it is our challenge to listen and allow ourselves to be led down the right path. At Hasty Guitars I truly believe that “happiness is when what you see, what you feel, and what you hear are all in harmony”.