J. Rod McClellan

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Handmade Instruments Built For The Musician
W11530 County Road C, Hancock,WI 54943 Voice:(715)249-5777
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Who Am I?

What Do I Do?






I'm not quite sure that how I build instruments is really explained here any better that it is under "What Do I Do?". I think the difference is to explain the more general philosophy behind it all. I won't even attempt any justification for this. I just hope it helps you to know who you are dealing with better, and by that, to determine whether you want to pursue supporting me while I build an instrument for you. In reality, you are never risking any money when you work with me, seeing as my warranty (see Pricing) covers all the monetary risk. Nevertheless, you are risking something even more valuable, and that is your time. If something you learn about me here would help you to know for sure whether or not you want to spend your time working with a person who views life as I do, then I'm happy I took the time to share it with you; and that you took the time to read it.

If you've read the "Who Am I?" section, then you know something of my philosophy already, but how that relates to the way I go about building instruments is what I want to address here. I can't, in good conscience, say that I'm the best luthier, so you should buy my instruments. I can say that my main concern when I build an instrument is that you will be happy with an instrument I build for you. I use all my skill to that end. At the same time, I am convinced that all the decisions which must be made by any artisan, go beyond the artisan's own skill, understanding and experience. That's why 'guilds' form: to provide a place to share ideas and experiences beyond those of just one person. I belong to such a guild, and frequent a few online forums for that purpose.

I'm always aware of the limitations that I, a human being, bring to practicing this craft and art. I am aware that what I do and how I do it goes beyond me. I 'submit' myself to be guided, whether consciously or unconsciously, by indescribable leadings. Some could use the words instinct or intuition, and it may be the best way to talk about it. Most anyone practicing an art will tell you that they just follow their instincts or intuitions. Not that there isn't a foundation of understanding basic principles and learning fundamental skills, but there is something beyond those foundational things which drives the choice of a specific word or color or tone. It is so centered in the 'right-brain' idea that it can't be talked about easily, if at all. Vagueness is the resulting communication: "I just draw what I see" or "I just write what I'm feeling" or "I just play or (in my case) build what I'm hearing".

For me, there is an even more personal and conscious submission that takes place. I trust the One Who created me to guide my intuition, for the sake of building what my customer desires. I try not to get caught up in whether or not I understand completely how it will all work out. That's why, at the end of a build I can say, without some funky false humility, that I thank God for the result. I build instruments as an act of worship to Him, because He alone knows me and He alone is worthy of thanks. By His grace, I've not had to face a customer who was displeased with the result. When it does happen one day, I'll know that it was because I thought I could meet the need of another human being using just MY skill and MY understanding. I'll know that I didn't listen to the customer well enough to recognize the utter impossibility of doing the job on my own. I'll know that rather than building to worship the Creator of everything and everyone, I was building to exalt myself.

If what I'm saying here sounds too 'metaphysical', I understand. It sounds kinda spooky to me, too, but it is just the truth; it really would be spooky if I didn't know who I was submitting myself to, but I do, and it is the One Who created me and knows me better than I know myself. I think you have a right to know who you are getting involved with, and how I really go about doing this.