Little Chute, WI USA


Dan Portrait

Meet the Maker

 I  pay close attention to every meticulous detail, especially the tone of the guitar.  The tonal complexity, clarity, depth, volume and "throatiness" of sound is constantly on my mind during the build process.  Dan Smocke

Member of the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL)

I have been playing, repairing and building guitars my entire adult life and at the same time led a career in the medical field as a business administrator.   I started Smocke Guitars in 2005.

I began my musical career in 1964 studying piano at age 8, then the guitar at 13 years of age.  Two years later I was offered a job in a local music store to be a guitar teacher.  I studied guitar with several local jazz players in the Milwaukee area throughout high school and college.

My woodworking skills began at 13 years of age in wood shop class in middle school. The first Archtop I ever made was in 1970.  Granted, it was made of the finest craft paper available in art class but it was just the impetus I needed to build Archtops.  

Performance wise, I played guitar in big bands, jazz quartets, trios, wedding bands,  solo artist and even led my own smooth jazz group while living in Albuquerque.  

My story of learning how to build guitars is a familiar story to guitar makers who learned to build instruments during the 1970’s.

In the absence of local apprenticeships, the only training available was through books, local music store repairmen, trial and error and an Italian luthier, Mr. Baldoni on the east side of Milwaukee.  The training I received from him was invaluable to me.  

Much of my wood finishing knowledge came from my father and mother. My uncle taught me about French Polishing.  

Out of all the guitars to be made in the world, the only guitar that I was interested in building was an Archtop.

I find the complexity and complications of its curves, the tap tuning of the plates, the finishing and final assembly very enjoyable.

And after all the hard work is over I have something musical, artistic and a joy to play. That's the reason why I enjoy building them so much. 

Archtop.  That is the guitar I build.

Dan Smocke

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