John Hall (Co-President)
ASIA has meant so much to me over the years. When I started as a builder, the internet was pretty new and information about guitars and stringed instruments was hard to come by. I was introduced to ASIA in 1999. I started to build guitars in 1998 while recovering from an accident. I was always involved in woodworking. My father was a trained Cabinetmaker / carpenter and I learned so many things from him. His love for wood and working with his hands rubbed off on me. My Father passed away in 1996 and I know would have been involved in the business with me. He was a natural talent at engineering and design. To him I credit with my ability to figure things out and my mechanic skills. He always encouraged me to try. One of his favorite expressions was, “If you don't do it yourself, you won't learn.”
As I finished a few guitars and made the typical mistakes, having learned off a Martin kit (An HD28 which I still have and play), I would show my friends at GMC my progress. My formal training at the time was as a machinist and those skills came in handy with guitar making. It was through friends and mentors that I learned about EBAY and the commercial viability of what we at had to offer, and that is how Blues Creek Guitars was born.
I signed up in ASIA in about 2002 and enjoyed the magazines. During my early days I had some terrific mentors; Steve Kovacik, Dale Trach, and CF Martin. I was afforded an opportunity to learn repair at Martin for opening a repair center. I spent a number of weeks learning the skills that would help me. People like Clarence Van Horn taught me the art of fretting; Milt Hess, David Strunk were more than generous in sharing what they knew. Dave Musselwhite, who I found out lived near me and who became a good friend, all shared information and honed my skills. I owe all them a big thank you—I don't think anyone gets to a high degree of proficiency in any trade without mentors and all of these men helped.
As my building and repair skills improved, 2003 ASIA symposium in West Chester was scheduled. It was the “coming out” party for Blues Creek Guitars and a long time relationship of support for ASIA. I met so many well known people—Frank Ford was one of the nicest people I met and was free with the information and just a nice guy to chat with. Dick Boak, Bob Cefalu, Rich Alteri all helped with advice and just support. Rick Davis was Director and the symposium was a big influence on me.
Shortly after this I had a commission and needed inlay work done. While I was okay with basic inlay I needed help and this was the first time I spoke with David Nichols. He was a big help and to this day, we are still good friends and I do thank him for his help and all he has done to help me become a better inlay artist and builder.
I look forward to continue to support ASIA, and I am thankful that I can return the support to the organization that helped me. I hope I can be of service in the future.