Musical Mecca of Sorts

February 17, 2010

I’m sitting in the Fayetteville, NC airport having just experienced one of the most amazing experiences of my musical life.  I spent the entire weekend with one of the best (if not THE best) acoustic guitar builders in the world.  His name is Wayne Henderson and he lives in the tiny little Virginia town of Rugby, Virginia.

I flew into Charlotte, NC on Saturday around noon, rented a car and headed north.  The drive was about 2-1/2 hours just over the border into Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains.  About 18 inches of snow was on the ground, even more on the rooftops, but the roads were clear.

I show up at Wayne’s house, park in the driveway and walk across the snow covered drive and into his workshop located about 50 yards away.  I wasn’t quite prepared for what I saw.

Handtools, sawdust, guitar cases, tub humidifiers, clamps, bandsaws, sanders, boxes of strings and tuners, guitar backs/sides were EVERYWHERE.

You could almost see the testosterone dripping down the walls.  Organized chaos would be the perfect description here as over the course of the next couple of days, I never once saw Wayne struggle to locate a knife, file, piece of fret wire etc.

Wayne was leaning over a workbench when I walked in and introduced myself.  His Virginia accent was just as thick in person as over the phone and he was quick to stop what he was doing to shake my hand.  I had spoken with Wayne many times on the phone over the last two years but I must say that I was a little star struck and nervous to meet him in person.

Once the pleasantries were exchanged, he showed me the fiddle that he was working on for this “lady friend” Helen.  Construction was complete with the exception of the tuning pegs, bridge and sound post.  Not only was I impressed with the overall fit and finish, he explained that he had constructed it in only three days!  Now, for Wayne, a working day is from about 12:00 noon until 3:00 a.m. but still…that is impressive.   #3The fiddle wasn’t completed as the most time consuming part (stain and finish) was still to come but he was determined to have it strung up and playable for Helen upon her return from a weekend getaway.

Around 5:30, Wayne, Jim (a fellow visitor from Long Island) and myself head to Independence, VA to a jam at the courthouse.  The concert  was a showcase for local talent and it was a blast to see Wayne perform live.  That lasted until about 11:00 p.m.  We returned to the workshop where Wayne continued his work on the fiddle along with making a bone nut for a local luthier’s guitar.  Seems the intonation was off slightly and he fixed it within 30 minutes.

After a few more stories, it was time to call it a day.  I looked at my watch and was shocked to see that it was 4:00 a.m.  A typical day for Wayne.

Back to the shop at around 12:00 noon on Sunday.  Helen stopped by the shop mid afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by her  Valentine’s gift.  The highlight of the trip had to be watching Helen and Wayne play a few tunes together.   I even recorded a couple.  Here is one that I’m sure you’ll like.

The day ended with me playing some fine (and by fine I mean freakin’ awesome) old guitars and swapping even more stories.  Words cannot adequately describe how genuinely nice Wayne is and how accommodating a host he is.  I made my exit around 6:00 p.m. and headed back to North Carolina for a business meeting.  No worries…here it is two days later and I’m still grinning from ear to ear!


4 Responses to “Musical Mecca of Sorts”

  1. Coy said

    TT you are the man. You should run for office. Did you do some singing for Wayne?

  2. Jim said

    Hey Terry,

    Thanks for the video. It was great seeing Helen play her violin and it was great fun to spend the weekend at Wayne’s. I’m looking forward to the festival in June and am definitely ready for Spring and the warmer weather.



  3. Brent said

    What an experience! Thanks for the write-up, and here’s hoping you get your guitar sooner than later.

  4. kristinq said


    Where’s the updates? You have to have had more exciting adventures since 2/17!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: