I'm Jake Wildwood and my business is located in our family store ("The Wildwood Flower") in Rochester, Vermont. This blog is where I post up glamor shots, history, and information about the instruments that I repair, restore, and sell. In 2023 I began taking-on apprentices and the business has been growing very, very quickly. It's still very much "my thing" but it's turning into a wonderful little community of players and repairfolk and I'm excited about our future.

I'm self-taught and have been doing this full-time since late 2007
and certainly don't think of myself as a luthier, though everyone calls me that. I think "country guitar doctor" is probably more accurate. The instruments are adjusted to play on-the-dot and repairs are practical and sturdy and functional. My focus is on recycling old (and new) instruments so they can live another hundred-plus years in the hands of musicians who will enjoy them. Cheap or fancy, low-brow fixing or high-brow fixing, it's all in the shop every day. I work regularly on $100 guitar-shaped-boxes and $10,000 pieces of guitar-shaped-art. It's all good.

I work primarily on vintage and antique guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukes, you name it... and am constantly on the prowl for the nicest and most interesting players' instruments from yesteryear. My work is concentrated around the doc's motto of "do no harm" while also trying to do the best for the patient. Instruments come out playing as best as they can with as minimal an amount of modification and work as possible to get them to that point.

We live right in the heart of Vermont's Green Mountains -- in the White River Valley -- and love it, even if I complain about -20F winter nights from time to time. I can't tell you enough about how peaceful it is to live up here. If you're ever in the area it's worthwhile to come visit our town as Rochester is a lovely, little, 1000-folk, creative, artsy, and very Vermont place to be.

I have two daughters and a lovely wife and a very supportive and creative family. It's wonderful to be doing work that also involves my passion for music... and I get to enjoy playing all that stuff before it goes back into the world, too!

I'm also a songwriter and player as well as a repairman. I've been writing songs and recording since I first got into music in high school and have been keeping to a fairly-steady schedule of local live shows for the last decade or so. You can find my music on all the various streaming services, YouTube, and whatnot but the largest bit can be found at SoundCloud at the moment as I'm currently remastering albums one by one before getting them up on the streamers.

But enough about me, shall we meet the crew? Since 2023, I've managed to press-gang several apprentices and likeminded string-fixers...

Here we are!

This is Ancel Coburn, who may or may not be as ridiculous and/or cynical and sarcastic as myself. He's currently logging the most time in the workshop with me and has become quite skilled very fast. I don't want to say invaluable but... well, he is. We're all impressed! He's both an upright and electric bassist who's moonlighting on guitar now and then and while he's seen here fretting a customer's cello (yes, we get the odd jobs, for sure), he mostly gets stuck working on guitars-guitars-guitars just like me.

The toilet bass he made with salvaged... everything... and even a handwound pickup made from hardware store magnets... was certainly... something!

Next-up, meet Andy Lake, who's one half of Jennings & McComber  and a mighty-fine individual. He's been doing carpentry and all sorts of related contracting work for many years but has been playing double bass (and just about everything else) the entire time. He's become our go-to bowed repairman and, while only here since February of 2023, he's worked on a frightening array of truly brutal repairs (as well as scads of "the usual stuff."

The man's enthusiasm knows no bounds and he's the patient, caring sort. We're hoping to have Andy in a lot more in the future but he's currently only in a day or two a week for the most part.

Next-up, here's Mr. Jose Rodriguez, our latest recruit in this madness. He's calm, cool, collected, and we're currently corrupting that out of him but he's putting up a good fight! Jose has gotten into the work quickly and cleverly and it's lovely to have him aboard.

My friend Tim Price has also been joining us for a few days a week recently and he's working on his "certified banjo mechanic" degree. Wait -- Tim, there's a degree for that? I think I may have misinformed you...

But seriously, Tim is another lovely fella with a big heart and great attention to detail. He's been leaping right into work on curious old banjos, mandolins, and other curiosities and doing a bang-up job. He's also got the most amazing collection of stories to keep us all entertained during the long days.

Meet Kazoo, our perpetual employee of the month for his mousing duties. We have two other cats as well but he's the one who always manages to sneak by the family and out onto the shop floor.

...and that's a wrap!