spruce as well as exotics like ebony, mahogany and rosewood – turned into delicate stringed instruments that can bring forth sounds that will stir the soul, place smiles on the faces of thousands or even bring the strongest of men to tears. Such is the craft and profession of Frank Finocchio.
Frank has been making hand crafted stringed instruments for over 20 years. He works one on one with his customers to create an instrument that is especially designed with the specifications and needs of his clients. The sounds of music from stringed instruments played by the likes of such varied artists as John Pizzarelli, to Oscar Lopez to Segovia to Eric Clapton all come from the same types of instruments that are made by the hands of Frank Finocchio.
The Finocchio Guitarworks studio is in a restored carriage house that’s located in the heart of Easton, right behind Villa Tempo Italiano. It is a fitting atmosphere for this timeless craft that Frank has made into his profession. The location is like taking a step back in time and very reminiscent of an avenue in a small town in one of Italy’s provinces.
Huge shuttered windows are open to cool breezes, moving the earthy smells of cedar around the studio. Sunlight sprinkles onto the wide-planked wooden floors and the soft sounds of classical guitar drift throughout the entire area. And, there is a very special emotional connection to this setting.
Finocchio Guitar Works – Where Wood Comes Alive
Close to a hundred years ago, Frank’s grandparents had a bakery just across the courtyard from his studio. Adding to the captivating ambiance of the Finocchio workshop is Frank’s easy, calm and warm personality. His enthusiasm and sincere love for his craft is infectious. Just an hour in this alluring setting and you feel a tug at wanting to do something this special with your hands, too.
The opportunity to create your own stringed instrument is not impossible. Frank Finocchio offers his skill and knowledge of this delicate, specialized craft to others just four times a year with a seven-day, hands-on class right from his own studios. In fact, he is nationally and internationally known as a teacher in the art of lutherie and restoration.
Over the past ten years, over 300 students have passed through his workshop. Virtually everything you will need to make your own instrument are provided in the Finocchio studios throughout each of the classes, which are limited to just four students. The small “class room” size ensures each student a level of dedication and attention to their learning process.
It also encourages friendships and closeness between the students and the teacher during those seven days. And, even if you don’t play a stringed instrument, the Finocchio Guitarworks workshop will provide you as much as those students who have that ability. The essence of guitar making seems to lie just as much in the therapeutic benefits realized from the session.
As Frank explained, people taking his workshop have the opportunity to step away from the hectic, stressful environments they are faced with in their daily lives and given the chance to be in a relaxed setting for a week. The atmosphere is an added benefit to the skills they will acquire to create something with their own hands and the finished product will bring them a special joy with every song
their instrument creates as well as, someday, being a cherished heirloom.
Professions have been borne from these workshops, too. Frank had his youngest student who was just 17 years old at the time. Today this former student is one of the top ten stringed instrument makers in the United States! The art of creating stringed instruments was borne for Frank Finocchio over twenty-five years ago as a result of a request from his sister, Donna, to make her a Dulcimer.
Frank’s reply to his sister’s request was simple. “Sure, but what is a Dulcimer?” It didn’t take much investigation for Frank to discover that this was the stringed instrument frequently held by angels in century old paintings. That Dulcimer became the first of many stringed instruments that Frank would create over the next twenty-five years.
Frank Finocchio’s livelihood has always been in professions that involved using his hands, just like his father Francesco Finocchio and his mother, Mary. His father was extremely skilled and had several professions over his lifetime, all involving work with his hands. His mother was also very artistic. As proof of her creativity, there are several of her paintings displayed throughout the Finocchio home.
Frank started out as a machinist before gravitating toward what would be more closely aligned to the wonderful craft he is renowned for today. From being a machinist, Frank went on to selling and buying woods for Martin Guitar for a few years, before starting his own guitar making business and workshops.
When Frank started with Martin Guitar, there were very few luthiers in the United States and anyone who was involved in this very specialized skill was secretive about his or her knowledge. It was, at one time, a very guarded profession. There weren’t even many publications available that gave insight into the techniques for how to make stringed instruments.
However, Frank was able to locate one of these books. From those pages he made his first guitar, which eventually set the stage for what is, today, Finocchio Guitarworks. It is obvious that Frank Finocchio has a love and a passion for creating stringed instruments – whether it be mandolins or arch top, flat top or classical guitars. Frank explained why.
“The neat thing about instrument making, whether it be making a violin, a cello, a guitar or anything that is made of wood, is that a simple piece of lumber will someday take on life and become an instrument that will make music to make people cry or be happy. When you make an instrument, that ordinary piece of wood suddenly comes alive – it moves, it produces! That’s why I have a passion for it. And, not only does it affect the person that’s making it, it affects the person who hears the music.” It has been said that, “For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s own speech.”
What could be more rewarding than to be able to make something with your own hands that could stir so much feeling? Frank Finocchio provides just that with every instrument he produces. He also offers a priceless gift to those interested in making their own instrument – his knowledge, his skill and his passion to help you to create a stringed instrument of your very own.