Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. And while I certainly didn’t invent Wolf and Tiger, necessity led me to reinvent them. They are the reason I started building guitars.
My quest started in 1998, in Buffalo, NY, when it dawned on me that there was not an existing option to buy a Jerry Garcia guitar. After a chance encounter with a now close friend, Mike Hogan–who had built a Garcia-inspired guitar of his own–I set out to build a Tiger.
I built several guitars at my shop in Buffalo, focusing on Jerry’s Tiger and Wolf and a variety of custom designs.
In 2002, over a series of trips to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, I had the chance to study Jerry’s instruments from only inches away. With detailed notes in-hand I was finally able to build Jerry Garcia’s quintessential guitars in their fullest glory—a feat which had not been done down to the last detail (at least as far as the internet could tell) since Irwin himself first created them.
Since then I have aimed to be the best in that arena, and have been fortunate enough to hold 5 or 6 of his guitars in my hands (and mic. and measure every single dimension). I have never stopped refining the process to achieve the ultimate replica, and maybe never will. I am still learning minute details after almost 15 years of refinement.
Soon after my trip to the Hall of Fame I moved to New York City, where for the better part of ten years I had a shop on Norfolk Street and then Allen Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
In 2010, in search of greener pastures, I moved my shop to its current location in Ellicottville, NY.
For the past decade and change I have dedicated thousands of hours to the construction of these guitars, and while there are now many builders making guitars in this style, I believe that mine are the most accurate—for whatever that’s worth.
There are many different choices at many different price points. Some offer value, some do not. My goal is to build the most accurate hand-made replicas on the market that meets not only the highest aesthetic standards, but also the highest in playability.
My customers—-among the most discerning, I am convinced—-hold me to it.
In most recent years I have turned my attention to creating custom guitars of my own design, yet heavily influenced by Irwin’s instruments.