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About Veillette Guitars (Pronounced: Vay-ett)
Experiences gained as players & performers have defined our idea of what instruments are really for. Though we appreciate fine marquetry, artistic woodworking techniques & exotic woods, these things don’t necessarily have any bearing on the artistic or spiritual processes that result in the creation of music. At Veillette Guitars, we make tools for musicians.
My first taste of guitar making came soon after architectural school, while working as an architectural designer in New York City. After three reputed experts couldn’t fix the broken headstock on my new first guitar, I suddenly found myself with an opportunity to learn guitar building from Michael Gurian. I figured that if I could learn to make one, I could probably fix mine. That was in 1971.
I soon lost interest in architecture & moved from Brooklyn to Grahamsville, NY, where I made acoustic guitars until mid 1975. At that time I co-founded Veillette-Citron Guitars with my friend & fellow architectural student Harvey Citron. The company did well, selling to many notable players. In 1978, John Sebastian asked us to build a baritone guitar, resulting in the VC Shark. That began my fascination with different scale lengths & string tensions, which still marks many of my designs. Veillette-Citron closed in 1983.
For the next 8 years I built very few guitars, mostly making a living as a singer/guitarist & leader of The Phantoms, which became one of the most popular bands in New York’s Hudson Valley. We performed often around New York City, in clubs from the Bottom Line & Lone Star Cafe to Radio City Music Hall. We also had strange jobs, including a regular spot on Soupy Sales’ daily NBC radio show.
In 1991, I started Woodstock Music Products with Stuart Spector, making Spector basses & starting a line of Veillette electric & baritone guitars. When we parted company in mid 1995, development began on the current line of hybrid "acoustic/electric" Veillette Guitars. Around that same time, Michael Tobias & I co-designed the Avante acoustic, baritone, and bass guitars for Alvarez Guitars. I also developed the Deep 6 Baritone neck, a no-modification conversion for Strats or Teles, & the Deep 6 Plus, a 7-String guitar with a longer scale for enhanced tonal balance on all strings, including the usually weak low B. These Deep 6 products are available from WD Music.
I've also worked as a session guitarist and singer, including a session for Krishna Das' 2005 album All One, produced by Walter Becker (Steely Dan), engineered by Jay Messina, and featuring drummer Rick Allen (Def Leppard), and noted session guitarist David Nichtern. Other recording credits include albums for John Sebastian, Jorma Kaukonen, and Manowar (!).
At present, I still perform regularly with the Phantoms, (band and acapella modes), and Blind Mice, more frequently with The JV Squad, a 3-piece harmony-based rock and roll group, and with Prana, a 9-voice acapella group that uses Tibetan and Tuvan overtone techniques.
I came to Veillette Guitars in late 2004. As production manager and main woodworker, I handle everything from the rough-lumber stage all the way through routing, neck shaping, fine sanding, and everything in between. This also includes working with Joe on jig and fixture design, and planning and sequencing the workflow and production to keep orders delivered on time.
As a gigging bassist and avid concertgoer, my work at Veillette Guitars is a natural extension of my lifelong love of music and instruments. This even includes my choice of a working instrument - a very custom Paris 4-string, seen in our Custom Instruments section.
A native son of Woodstock, NY, I have been working at Veillette Guitars since 2000. Since then, the only use I have found for my Literature degree has been in writing this paragraph.
Shortly after taking up guitar (and quickly thereafter, bass) at 15, I quickly discovered a talent for accumulating guitars that needed work. I was forced, therefore, to teach myself wiring and repair. I first met Joe to show him an old V-C bass I had been given, and soon after began working at Veillette Guitars.
The son of banjo innovator Bill Keith, I was raised in a family and a town that passed on a great love for music and musical instruments. I have been both lucky and proud to be part of the constant evolution of the Veillette Guitars line. I currently deal with shipping and receiving, customer relations, product development, web & promotional content, and any "non-production" repair or modification work.
I also play bass actively with an acoustic gypsy jazz band, the Metropolitan Hot Club.