My first encounter with Bruce Weber was back in 2010, in a small town outside of Bozeman, MT. His luthier shop where he has built thousands of some of the worlds greatest sounding mandolins, have all come from the modest "makeshift" (an old elementary school gymnasium) shop. From the outside looking in, the fantasy image you have in your minds is a high tech, almost science lab clean work area with showroom at the front with a few offices with high wingback chairs, leather bound books, and an aroma of sophistication.
No.. It's like I said, an elementary gymnasium (not even a full court) with gorgeous woods stacked here and there; a few benches, machines and a solid amount of sawdust and glue droppings. On the stage area of the gymnasium is where the man himself makes claim to his main work area. It's almost like how I envision Santa Claus in his workshop. This is the space of a "real life" man in a "real life" situation creating some of the greatest instruments this world has ever been able to lay their hands on. Bruce is a true Stradivarious of our time and the fact that he has built such a company and a name from being a "real life" guy makes him someone I admire so much.
When we met at his shop, I had already known that he was a hunter.. He lives in some of the greatest Elk, Mule deer, and Bighorn country; of course he hunts!! One of the first things we talked about was about an elk hunt he was recently on. That conversation lasted for the better part of two hours. Real life stuff. That's what I like.
The conversation transitioned into mandolins and how Bruce runs the shop and goes about creating these amazing instruments. He of course has the gymnasium, but also showed me the room where they paint the instruments which used to be one of the classrooms. Nothing fancy or high tech, but I know Stradivarius did't have high tech, fancy tools and machines to work with either.
I just couldn't believe that this is where and how these instruments were created!
If you have ever picked up a Weber instrument, you know the brilliance that it must have taken to create such a beautiful looking and sounding piece of art. Bruce overlooks whatever his workers produce; sometimes making them redo pieces and steps until it meets his standards. He is picky and precise. He knows when that instrument leaves his shop, it has his name and reputation on it and if it's not perfect; it doesn't see the light of day.
We developed the "Muley" mandolin right there that day. He drew up the mule deer skull which is perfectly inlayed in the headstock. The deer hooves that are inlayed as fret markers on the neck were an idea of his to compliment the skull. We went with the grey back and sides to give it that mule deer look and "iced" the top with the gloss black finish. It's a true, one of a kind, work of art and it sounds so ridiculously sweet. I have used it on every tour, tv show, and album since it arrived at my doorstep.
I'm really excited for you all to see the newest additions to my Weber family! They're not yet completed I have heard, but they are getting close. There will definitely be some videos posted once it/they arrive. That's all I can say at this moment.
Bruce is one of the most respected men in the music industry and one of the greatest luthiers of our time and you wouldn't know it when you meet him. And I say that as a compliment. He is one of the warmest and most approachable people I have ever come in contact with and he has so much respect for others. He is the epitome of a hard working, "real life" guy that does surreal things when it comes to instruments. There is absolutely nothing corporate about him or his company and I admire him as a man almost more than being a genius mandolin builder.
He is definitely a man that you need to meet if you ever get the honor to.