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continue developing his woodworking skills, so Andy kept at it, but went from guitars to ukuleles since they were smaller and required less wood to produce. Seemingly easier to make, Andy would discover later on that ukuleles are actually more difficult to build than guitars. “By the time I was 13, I was actually making

some pretty decent ukulele’s that family and friends where buying from me for $50-$100. I realized the money I made from making uke’s could buy me a surfoard. I was stoked!” Andy’s love of music continued to develop

throughout his teens, becoming increasingly proficient at guitar, absorbing a wide scope of musical styles from bluegrass, country, jazz, rock, classical, folk, surf music--you name it, he was into it. As he developed as a guitarist, Andy continued to build guitars, accelerating in both areas to the point where it dawned upon him that there just might be a career in music…ei- ther in making and repairing guitars or perform- ing in a band or both. Te world of music was opening up to this bright young lad and oppor- tunities began to flow his way. “I was introduced to some very accomplished

musicians through my father who just happened to be doing finish carpentry for them at their houses. One such musician was Bob Boss. He lived nearby and has played with well-known acts like Sarah Vaughn, B.B. King and other greats. I’d go over to his house with my guitar and we’d listen to records for hours. Bob showed me a lot about how the jazz world works. At one point Bob needed to have the bridge repaired on one of his guitars. He asked me if I could fix it, and I did. Tis soon led me to quite a bit of guitar repair jobs for several music stores in the area.” Later on Andy would meet John Jorgenson of

Chris Hillman’s Desert Rose Band. “John’s advice helped guide my budding career. He told me, ‘You’re a good guitar player; but be really careful in the music world because it can chew you up. Tat’s not a good way to live.’ “I heeded his warning, but by then I had al-

ready decided I didn’t want to become a touring musician. I’d much rather be around the ocean and home so I could continue to surf and build guitars.” Aſter he completed his home schooling, Andy

earned a scholarship to UCSD, majoring in modern music. “UCSD was and still is a modern music school

and such a forward-thinking environment. Te well-known composers and musicians who came out of there were developing their own in-

From top: Andy Powers

“Trio” of instruments he built—a mandolin, flat-top guitar and an arch-top guitar (Photo: Tim Whitehouse;

Working in his shop (Photo: Sam Wells); and catching a few quality waves in his spare time (Photo: Kevin Kinnear).

struments. Tey were really pushing the bound- aries in trying to get different sounds, colors and textures out of their instruments. It was a great environment because it fostered careful listening and clear, well-developed thought.” While attending UCSD, word spread around

campus of Andy’s talent in not only playing great guitar, but of his repair, restoration and build- ing from scratch, beautiful custom guitars. “I had the desire and interest in building custom guitars and ended up working on most of my professors’ and classmates’ instruments, plus the money I earned was paying my bills. I feel like guitar making wasn’t something I chose to do… it was something that chose me because I was so interested in it. It was just this whole musical thing that kept moving forward.” With his interest in a wide diversity of musi-

cal styles, Andy’s approach to building guitars became equally diverse. “I love country western, bluegrass, classic rock and all classical music. What I would find is that figuring out a new technique while I was building a mandolin could also be used on a guitar. Or I learn things in the way the top of a guitar wanted to move that af- fected everything else. So by spreading out what I was interested in increased by my understand- ing of the way thing tend to work, because a lot of the mechanics of instrument making are re- ally similar.” Andy’s unique approach to building guitars

led to his keen ability in processing a guitar player’s individual style, then incorporating that information in making that player’s custom in- strument. “I watch people play and I see what they do to overcome the shortcomings of their instrument, and in the process of building a new guitar for them, I rid the instrument of those shortcomings.” Another fantastic element of Andy’s work is

his beautiful mother of pearl inlay designs. Inlays are traditionally confined to the fretboard, but Andy breaks that code with his designs spilling over onto other areas of the guitar, giving a free flowing natural feel and effect. An archtop guitar he built for jazz performer Bob Boss features a “four seasons” tree motif that include an inlay of a tree that starts in the pickguard, branching out across the fretboard and on up the vertical face of the fretboard binding. “Te whole thing is breathtaking,” Boss says.

“People oſten tell me, ‘I think that’s the prettiest guitar I’ve ever seen,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, it is.’” Andy first met Bob Taylor at a Harvey Reid concert when Andy was just 14 years old. Andy

The Ocean Magazine • February/March 2012 23

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