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Lombardi Guitarworks: Biography

Don Lombardi - Guitarmaker

I built my first guitar back in 1995 from a C.F. Martin guitar kit while I was living in Pawling, New York.  The kit contained all the woods I needed to build a guitar with instructions, but I didn’t know where to start, so I enlisted the help of my friend, the late Bruce Morrison.

Bruce picked up a lot about guitar making from any and every guitar maker, and repairman he met, namely John Greven, John Monteleone, and Don Teeter, not to mention the countless trips to the Martin Guitar factory.  I watched Bruce build and re-build, fret and re-fret for hours on end in his basement, listening to him talk about the instrument he loved so much.

We started construction on the Martin OM (Orchestra Model) kit on my kitchen table with some tools that Bruce had, and some that I bought at Sears.  We finished building the OM guitar kit; we were so proud, and so we thought to let Barry Lipman in nearby Danbury, Connecticut take a look at it; Barry is a Master Luthier that I've known for many years

While it wasn’t anywhere near perfect, Barry was impressed by the sound of this weird thing that we tried to pass off as a guitar; and so he suggested that we keep trying.  We headed home with the guitar in the trunk, stopping at Tortilla Flats for lunch; and while we munched, somebody helped himself to my guitar. 

I was very upset to say the least, but I was offered a slightly different perspective when Bruce said “hey, you should feel flattered; somebody liked the guitar enough to steal it.”  Bruce had a point, but I was not in the mood for cock-eyed optimism. All I knew was that somebody stole my $250 investment.

I didn't build another guitar until 2007, when I took a class given by Frank Finocchio, who had worked for Martin Guitars as a Process Engineer.  At the time, I would go to him to repair or service my guitars as needed.  I asked him to build me a custom guitar, but he suggested that I take his guitar making class; I immediately dismissed the idea, but Frank encouraged me to give it try, and so I signed up. 

The day came, and with only a few hours until the class began, I suddenly got cold feet, reluctant to go through with the class, and so I called my friend Elaine, nervously explaining why I didn't think I could succeed at building a guitar.

After listening to probably every excuse known to man, she said "Don, just go to the class, and try...just try."  Needless to say, she convinced me; and with Frank's warm welcome and expert approach to teaching, I got started...15 minutes into the class, and I was hooked!

Frank taught me a simple guitar design called the “Prima" that he created; it later became the first build of the Lombardi guitar.  I've built several "Prima" guitars, each one for working musicians including a CutawayI've also built a Jumbo Acoustic Bass, an Auditorium (000), and a Dreadnaught guitar in the traditional style

As I continue to build guitars, I embrace both the traditional and contemporary designs I've studied and experimented with, but the "Prima" design has a special place in my heart, because it may very well be the perfect guitar shape. 

My gratitude goes out to all of the fine musicians who play Lombardi Guitars; thank you for continuing to show the work of this unknown guitarmaker.

I have a few special people to thank for getting me kick-started on this odyssey of guitar making: 

Bruce Morrison, for being my friend, and my first teacher of guitar making when I began this journey; I remember you every time I carve a brace, or hammer a fret.  
Elaine Lagarto, for believing that I could build guitars, and for backing it up with your own money; thank you, my beautiful friend.
Frank Finocchio, for teaching me the art and discipline of guitar making the "Prima" way, and for so much more; mille grazie, mio maestro, mio amico.