Rodney Stedall, maker of fine acoustic guitars


I have had a successful professional career as an optometrist and now split my time between my profession and my lutherie. I work from my home in Cambridge, New Zealand.

 

Lutherie experience

Many years ago I started restoring old string instruments and shortly afterwards completed my first steel-string flat top guitar by following the instructions in a book. This instrument sparked the beginning of my lutherie careers and I still play it daily. Since then I have built many instruments, each one unique and crafted with care.

 

Sharing the craft of lutherie

I have been a member of the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) since 1998 and have had several articles published in the GAL Journal.
In 2000 I started the Guild of South African Luthiers to help raise the level of craftsmanship and the sound and quality of our instruments. I have given several workshops to luthiers and woodcraft guilds on the technique of French polishing.
In my travels I always seize the opportunity to visit luthiers around the world and learn from these master craftsmen.

 

Early days


At age 11


I grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. At age eleven I acquired my first guitar and taught myself how to play.


I can remember spending time in my father's workshop observing him with many of his wood projects and then blunting his saws and chisels with projects of my own; from wooden boats, boxcars, cricket bats, boomerangs, kites and skateboards to miniature solid wood guitars strung up with fishing line.


In my high school days I started a custom leather crafting business, making intricately embossed sandals, shoes, bags, belts, knife sheaths, chair upholstery and leather wall murals. My pride and joy some years later was my restored industrial Singer leather sewing machine with walking foot. I've always had a need to express myself artistically and my love of playing guitar, coupled with these early experiences at crafting things by hand, led to me building my first guitar.


Thank you to my inspiration

I have several luthier friends to thank for selflessly offering me guidance and advice along the way.

  • Mervyn Davis, the most experienced luthier in South Africa, for his encouragement during the making of my first instrument.
  • Colin Cleveland who taught me rosette making.
  • Otto Vowinkel in Amsterdam for guidance on French polishing.
  • Eugene Clark in Seattle who has guided my building philosophy through endless hours of email correspondence.
  • Mick Lazar in Canada who shared his knowledge on elevated fingerboard construction.
  • And finally my good friend Garth Pickard in Pretoria for sharing not only guitar philosophy, but also his philosophy of life, plus introducing me to Spanish cooking. Muchas gracias mi amigo.