My assistants: Hobbes and Higgins.
Tim Harris Classical Guitars
Unlike most people I was not introduced to the classical guitar until my mid-twenties. I was very involved in music all through high school and college as a trumpet player. In 1996 I finished college and began working for a tugboat company on the Columbia River system. In 2004 I found myself training in the wheelhouse to become an operator, but something was missing. I realized music used to be a large part of my life and it was no longer there. Since I was accustomed to playing the trumpet in a band setting, I wanted to explore another instrument that I could play on my own. On a rainy, winter day I was flipping through channels on television and discovered a guitarist named “Esteban” playing the classical guitar. Esteban wasn’t simply strumming chords on a guitar, he was playing classical music. This was my first exposure to hearing a classical guitar, and I knew that I wanted to purchase this guitar and try it for myself.
After I had the guitar for a couple of weeks, I knew I had found an instrument I could enjoy playing on my own. I quickly upgraded to a Spanish made guitar and found myself looking at different guitars on “ebay.” During one of my many browsing sessions, I found an auction for a set of classical guitar plans. Maybe I could build my own guitar since in school I had taken several wood shop classes, and I also had experience building various projects with my dad.
Armed with my guitar plans and a wonderful book on the subject, “Guitarmaking” by Natelson and Cumpiano, I embarked on building my first guitar. Although it wasn’t everything I dreamed it would be, I was excited about the process. At that point I decided I would spend my time trying to improve my playing.
A couple of years later I attended a Pepe Romero concert in Seattle, Washington, where he commented on the guitar that he was playing. It was built by his son, Pepe Romero Jr. Upon hearing this, the idea of building quickly came to mind and within the week I started planning to build another guitar. This time I immersed myself in all the information I could find. After finishing this guitar I was very encouraged by the outcome and began building a guitar for one of my co-worker’s son.
That Spring I went to a handmade instrument exhibit in Portland, Oregon and met Jeffrey Elliott and Cyndy Burton. I met with Cyndy and learned how to French Polish my instruments. I also had a consultation with both of them and learned a great deal. Since then I have met many luthiers that have been very helpful in my journey.
I became a Columbia River Pilot in March of 2010 and now I pilot ships up and down the river. I am very blessed to have a job like this which allows me to be able to pursue this wonderful art form of luthiery. Who would have thought that an infomercial started all of this!