Interview with Luthier Bill Hodge
Q: At what point in life did your passion for guitars begin?
A: Since the age of seven, I’ve had a passion for guitars and a love for acoustic music. A childhood friend first introduced me to finger-style guitar. The following summer, my father bought materials and instructions to help me to build a cigar box guitar. Though crude in its nature, this project instilled a strong desire in me to grow in woodworking and craftsmanship.
Forward to the age of 12 when a man whom I deeply admired gave me my first guitar. Around the same time, my music teacher at school offered free in-class guitar lessons. These things founded and increased my passion for this magnificent instrument.
Q: Was there ever a time that you received formal training to aid your desire for woodworking?
A: In high school, wood shop enhanced my already developing woodworking skills. This training added understanding that helped to increase my skills as a woodworker and craftsman. Over time with years of accumulated practice, the skills and knowledge I developed as a woodworker grew far beyond my ability as a guitarist. However, my passion for finely crafted instruments (specifically guitars) continued increasing. I was fascinated at how a thin wood box could withstand such extreme forces, produce beautiful sounds, and yet not blow apart. In fact, it fascinates me to this day!
Q: So you developed and mastered your skills as a woodworker. At what point did you actually begin the pursuit of lutherie?
A: Early in 2005 I invested in resources published by master luthiers to learn how to build "a" guitar. I needed valid information so I would not delve into this venture uninformed. That's when I began building my first guitar.
In 2007 with the full support and encouragement of my Loving Wife, I transitioned my focus from building high end custom wood furniture into full time lutherie. I gave the earliest versions of my guitars away while fine tuning my skills and techniques in the craft. Each of these early instruments enabled me to gather much needed data and feedback from the gift recipients. This increased my knowledge in my quest for “the perfect guitar”.
Q: So do you think being a master woodworker helped in your pursuit of lutherie?
A: Even with nearly four decades of skill as a woodworker plus self-education regarding the art and craft of lutherie, I knew something was lacking. Master Luthier Charles Fox’s American School of Lutherie stood out as the answer to my research regarding formal education resources. Beside this and several shorter courses from luthiers such as Robert O'Brien & Kent Everett, I received generous consultation and advice from other well seasoned luthiers. Acquiring this knowledge empowered a breakthrough in my ability to create high-end, responsive guitars. As a luthier, my mission is to continue studying and learning the science, technology, and art behind these amazing instruments. This knowledge, combined with my skills and experience as a luthier, enables me to achieve the tone and stability I require in a Rhema Guitar.
Q: What do you see yourself doing in 10 or 20 years from now?
A: I will always continue self-educating and innovating as a luthier to hone my understanding of the design and creation of these magnificent instruments we call guitars. Having achieved a strong measure of success in birthing these custom instruments gives me the confidence to compete among the industry’s best. I don't see myself doing anything else.
Q: How would you describe your continuing pursuit of these fine instruments and the mystery of their wonderful offerings?
A: A favorite saying of mine is "No one has ever learned ALL there is to know about their craft. If they think they no longer need to improve their skills and understanding, it’s probably time for them to do something
Q: Do you have anything specific to say to people who are reading this interview?
A: My desire and determination is to build You the instrument of Your dreams. For every Rhema Guitar I build, I’m satisfied with nothing less than excellence. Contact me and let’s discuss your needs and options. Let Me create the guitar You’ve always wanted, Your very own dream guitar. You’ll be glad you did!