I started building guitars in 2011 after taking a guitar building class from Rick Davis and Cat Fox at the Sound Guitar Workshop in Seattle. Although the class was focused on steel string guitars, it was a great introduction to the guitar building process and (for me) the art of woodworking. Since that time I have focused on building traditional, fan-braced classical guitars.


My goal is to build responsive guitars that are balanced across the strings and that have an even response. I create instruments that have firm basses and round, easily shaped trebles. My build philosophy is “less is more.” I keep it simple and am wary of trends. I also decided early on to primarily use hand tools in an effort to keep things simple. Hand tools fit my personality and aesthetic. They allow me to focus more on the task at hand rather than the means of getting there.

My guitars are entirely finished with shellac which I feel offers the right mix of durability, beauty, and repairability. While living in Seattle, I studied French polishing techniques with Eugene Clark and Cyndy Burton. They both helped lessen the learning curve of French polishing and greatly improved my technique.

My enthusiasm for the guitar predates my career as a builder and I still try to play for my enjoyment when time permits. I have had a passion for music from an early age and started playing the guitar when I was 14.  I played bass and electric guitar in garage bands, jazz guitar in a community college big band, and eventually moved on to study classical guitar at Towson University.

When not building guitars, I enjoy cycling, trail running, hiking, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, traveling, listening to WPFW’s G-strings, and attending Sunday service at McLean Bible Church. And doing these activities with my wife makes them even more enjoyable.

Richard Waltz French polishing guitar

Richard L. Waltz