Bear Acker (Executive Director)

Portrait of Bear Acker

I should introduce myself. My name is Alton Bear Acker, and I have been an ASIA member for quite a few years. My family started me working wood when I was about ten years old, my grandfather being a furniture maker, and my father a carpenter. They taught me both crafts and I've done both for many years. In the mid seventies my woodworking entered another phase: stringed instrument making.  Among other things, my grandfather had given me music training, and I became a musician outside of woodworking.

Since I play left-handed, and since there's always a lack of left handed instruments, I started making my own. The first one was a five-string banjo, in 1977, and it turned-out OK.  I also built a D-size guitar around 1978 that started a period of guitar making, for me, and others. Somewhere along the line I got into Roger Siminoff's F-Model Mandolin plans, and made my first mandolin. I did a few mandolins before being bitten by the violin bug. After a dozen  violins mandolins, guitars and banjos, the shop has many patterns, jigs, and memories.

During this time I was teaching cabinetry, carpentry and instrument making, as well as pre-engineering. In pre-engineering I taught AutoCAD and international drafting language; believing that engineers should design as well. I used to talk instrument design using AutoCAD with Jim Rickard. There was a guy. Anyway, I retired from full time education August 2006 and am now in my shop all of the time that I'm not playing music. So, instrument building, music, and now, Director.

“ASIA is an organization where you not only grow your skills, but grow your extended family. I have met so many wonderful, knowledgeable people through this organization.” ~Michael Dickinson, Martin Guitar