Back in the mid 1970s, I was lucky to have the opportunity to apprentice with Hideo Kamimoto while he had his shop in Oakland, California, and was writing his seminal book "Complete Guitar Repair". I worked for Hideo for over 7 years, doing the full range of guitar repairs, including warranty service for Martin and Gibson, as well as working on violin family instruments. I built a couple of dreadnaught guitars at that time. As a Kamimoto Strings employee, I was fortunate to be able to attend warranty service training at the original Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, before they moved to Nashville.
With some regret I left lutherie for computers in the mid 1980s. Eventually I became a developer of telecommunications network management software. After decades of work in the software industry, I returned to lutherie as a vocation in 2008. This time I am primarily focussed on building my own new designs.
Over the years I have done some double bass repair working with my brother Patrick McCarthy. He is a professional symphony musician and luthier here in Berkeley, California, with a career of more than 4 decades, and clients from all over the U. S. and Europe. I have learned a lot from Patrick about tone production, playability, and aesthetics in violin family instruments. Patrick is an active consultant and collaborator in the design and production of my instruments.
As a jazz player, my main interest is acoustic arch top guitars. I have owned, restored and loved many arch tops from the classic era, but never been completely satisfied with them. I came to think that I would have to build my own, to get everything I want in an instrument. My goal as a builder is to create instruments that have charm and sound comparable to the best instruments of the classic era, but incorporate improvements available through modern lutherie, as well as my own design ideas. I strive to fully optimize all aspects of the instrument, and spend a lot of time working out every design detail. Where appropriate, I apply insight developed from working on violin family instruments to my arch top guitar designs.
I use Rhino 3D software for design, with the MadCAM plugin to create tool paths, and a Techno LC 4848 CNC router. It has been a big investment, and an arduous learning curve, but I am very pleased with the results I am getting. In the long run, this technology will allow me to put instruments of high value into the hands of a larger number of players than would be possible using only traditional methods.