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History, Continued

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During that time, information on mandolin construction was limited, as well as my exposure to vintage instruments.  As a result, creativity and intuition played an important role when it came to understanding contours, arching, graduation, tone bar placement, etc., along with developing inlays designs and construction methods. All in all, not a bad thing, though results were probably less predictable.

Quite a few early instruments were made of Brazilian or Indian Rosewood. Todd Philips and I had become acquainted around the time he joined The David Grisman Quartet and was finishing up a Brazilian mando of his own.  With no opportunity to hold and examine a vintage Gibson, my early inspiration was to build a number of instruments using the “holy grail” of tonewoods.

In 1979, Laurie Lewis invited the extraordinary guitar player, Greg Townsend, and me to move down to the Bay Area to perform with her band.

Over the next few years I lived north of San Francisco, in Marin County, sharing a house with John Reischman, Dave Balakrishnan and Sally VanMeter–great people and great musicians one and all!

John performed and recorded with one of my instruments for a number of years, till acquiring his Lloyd Loar.  Needless to say, having this classic instrument around the house was a huge inspiration.

While deeply involved in playing music and building mandolins, near the end of 1981 other forces intervened, pushing me north towards Washington State.

Over the ensuing years, I obtained my accounting degree and CPA license, embarking on a new career. I returned to building for a time in the mid to late 1980’s, producing another 12-14 instruments, still with no numbering. A few pictures from this time appear in the Gallery pages.

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For more than 12 years I practiced public accounting, primarily in the Seattle office of Moss Adams LLP.  In the aftermath of a tragic climbing accident on Mt. Rainier, nearly all free time in the 1990’s was devoted to mountaineering.  Though this new avocation kept me in shape and was a great antidote to the stress of work, no room remained for playing or building mandolins.

In 1998, I relocated to the vibrant community of Bellingham, Washington, where I eventually took up my current position as Chief Financial Officer for a consortium of innovative companies in the wood products industry (www.verdantwood.com).

Though I always anticipated returning to building when I retired, in 2005, as several friends and relatives passed away, the urge to build again took hold.  So, in 2006, I cut back my hours at work in order to carve out enough time to dive back in.

My current goal is to use whatever knowledge, skills, materials, and time is available to produce the best instruments possible, and to share some of the knowledge acquired over the years.  And perhaps most importantly, to have fun!

Given my current schedule, I expect to produce six instruments per year.  Please feel free to contact me if interested in a mandolin, building techniques, or anything else.  I will do my best to respond.

Best Regards,

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Stan Miller Working in Shop

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