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THE BUILDER

Joe Konkoly is a guitar builder and repairman based in Grand Ledge, Michigan. The journey from struggling musician, through itinerant guitar teacher, to full time luthier began in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Grade school guitar lessons laid a musical foundation that was pursued in earnest upon arriving at Pennsylvania State University in 1976. Although his formal studies earned him a bachelor's degree in marketing, playing in local coffeehouses ignited a passion for stringed instruments. Upon graduation he found a teaching position, along with steady money on the local bar band circuit. He soon learned he could recruit new students by turning their previously unplayable guitars into serviceable instruments in his father’s garage workshop.

The need for a quality mandolin and the discovery of Roger Siminoff’s book “How to Build a Bluegrass Mandolin” were the beginning of a serious luthiery quest, which was fulfilled with a stint at The Vermont Instrument Workshop under the tutelage of George Morris in the spring of 1982. The intensive three-month course yielded two guitars, a solid grounding in the use of hand tools, and a mountain of information to assimilate.

Joe spent the next five years building a luthiery business back home in western Pennsylvania, followed by two summers as the head building and repair teacher at the National Guitar Summer Workshop. In search of a larger market, he found employment at Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan, and trained under vintage Martin repair expert and OM specialist T. J. Thompson, who ran the repair shop there until 1993. When T. J. returned to the Boston area, Joe took over the reins at Elderly. The shop expanded into a new 3000 square foot space in 1995, and over the next ten years grew from five repair technicians to 11.

During this period Joe also began gathering tools, jigs, and wood at his home shop. He continued to build guitars in this space, although his main focus was repairing vintage instruments at Elderly. In 2005, a unique opportunity to perform two top replacement conversions on vintage Martin guitars gave Joe the impetus to gear up his shop to a new level. This growth is ongoing and Konkoly Guitars has reemerged on the luthiery scene with renewed vigor. Over 20 years of experience at the helm of one the world’s leading new and vintage instrument stores has afforded the opportunity to work on many of the finest examples of American luthiery the 20th Century has to offer. Joe has melded that knowledge with a forward thinking vision to offer his version of classic steel string designs.

THE BUILDER | THE SHOP | PRESS ROOM

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