Steve Granek's tutorial evaluation

December 28, 2002

William Cumpiano
PO Box 854
Easthampton MA 01027

Dear Bill:

Having recently spent 2 weeks with you building a steel string guitar, I wanted to write a note of thanks.  It was an incredibly rewarding and well spent 2 weeks.  I found you a very patient and dedicated teacher.  And having you working beside me gave me enough confidence to allay my fear of failure enough to allow me the freedom to succeed.  Even without the end product of a beautiful guitar, it was a 2 weeks that was good for the soul, very relaxing and nurturing.  The work itself was its own reward really.  And being surrounded by so many guitars, each with their own personality, for 2 solid weeks... well that was real nice.

I especially enjoyed being able to talk with you about design and technical considerations that you make as you are working.  After talking with you in advance, I chose to build a guitar modeled on the Martin "M" size specifications, with a Maple back and sides.  The guitar you were building next to me was smaller, and it was very useful for me to see the differences in approach.  Had we built identical guitars, I doubt we would have had so much chance for that discussion.  I also got the benefit of SEEING you work and of a thousand little insights about body mechanics and technique that are almost impossible to describe in a book - even one as fine as yours.

My guitar is gorgeous.  I opted to bring it home for lacquering.  I can vouch that it took every bit of the 2 weeks to get it to the point of stringing it up and hearing it.  Mom and Dad are really impressed at what their baby (51 years old of him) managed to produce.

One result that I am personally very pleased with is that while I love the resulting guitar, I am not enraptured with it  - that is, I recognize that I made it, and that I could make another one!  So I am able to look at the guitar like a step in my own work in progress.  This may seem like a left handed compliment, but I assure you it is not... quite the opposite.  I can see the things I could have done better - and I will be able to improve a bit next time.  I can feel and
hear the things that I like about it, as well as feel, see and hear the things that I missed on.  Had I produced the perfect guitar - the be all and end all - I would have experienced that success as an accident due to your proximity, the Bill Cumpiano pixie (saw) dust.  I take this as an indication that you successfully taught me, not that you simply managed to get me to the end so that I could have a vanity object.  And I appreciate the commitment to that teaching very much.

An added bonus was Harry Becker's (your partner), generous encouragement coaching about what to expect from the lacquering and final finishing process.  THANKS HARRY!!!!

Also, thanks to your wife Jeanette for her hospitality.  I opted to stay in the private apartment in your home. The accommodations were just right and I'd encourage anyone coming for a tutorial to consider that option.

Finally, if any prospective students would like to talk to me about my experience, I'd be happy to talk.  Feel free to give them my phone number or they can e-mail me at  Thanks again. 


Steve Granek