All my life I’ve loved and played music. Piano as a young boy. Ukulele a little later. Guitar at 13. First band in high school at 14. First gig was 16 or 17. Have been playing live ever since. I was tweaking them from the beginning, customizing them all. Changing their appearance. Lighting them on fire (truly horrifying). Refinishing them after the fact (the things that I thought that were cool…..). Built a couple guitars in high school, and this was the 90’s folks. Back then, with limited instruction (ie. no internet) that was no small feat. Since then I’ve worked in all sorts of music stores, beginning when I was around 20 or so. In an effort to stay close to the music and my interests, I got into guitar repair. I lucked into working under some super talented repair guys/ luthiers. I later realized repair & custom work could be a perfect marriage between pursuing a career in the arts and balancing a day job. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been the best day job I’ve ever had. Not an easy one, but definitely a good one. So I was already off to a good start with the training and expert tips I had already received, but I wanted to own it. So in 2006 I digested all the education I could on the subject, and then simply practised it. Thousands of guitars later, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things. Right from the beginning people would ask me, how can I learn what you know? How can I do these things myself? This gave me an idea to put on a class. So in 2009 I did just that, and it was a full turnout. It gave me the idea to offer classes on DIY guitar repair. So from there I flew with it. Since then I’ve been all over the place and it’s been a wild ride. Wrote some books, and now they’re read all over the world. I enjoy the thrill of seeing people’s eyes light up when they have learned something in one of my classes. When I was a kid, this sort of thing wasn’t possible (at least where I grew up). To this day, it’s one of my most celebrated achievement.
I’ve worked in many guitar stores over the years (Arbutus Music, Axe Music, St. Johns Music, Long & McQuade). I opened J.Haven Guitar Repair as a home-based repair shop in 2011 and before that it was Fret-Ends Guitar Repair in 2008 (operated in the Edmonton Jam Space). In 2014, in an effort to expand, I opened up a small used guitar store to compliment my repair business called J.Haven Guitarworks. Something I felt Edmonton had been lacking prior. Due to some incredibly loyal and generous friends and clients, I managed to fill that little store full of gear in less than 6 months. Repairs were never busier, but I found most of the sales were online, coming from everywhere but Edmonton. Unfortunately with the nation-wide decline of the retail industry, as well as the local recession beginning to hit hard, I realized my timing for opening the store wasn’t the best, it would be smarter to close then keep going. I took some well-deserved time off from the repair life for a couple years and continued building my music production company, where I write, perform, and produce regularly. In March of 2017 I reopened for repairs from my home-base, where I will be opening up more services in the future. Throughout the Edmonton area I also freelance as a guitarist and bassist, and sometimes head a few projects of my own.