When Luthiers International recommended Damon Mailand to Benedetto Guitars as our first Savannah hire in 2006, the endorsement was so strong that we couldn’t help but question its sincerity. What we found (when Damon drove across the United States for a face-to-face interview) was in Bob’s opinion, perhaps the next generation’s greatest guitar maker. Benedetto hired Damon immediately as our first shop employee, and placed him in nearly every position in the workshop while personally training him to become his apprentice. Damon worked side-by-side with Bob, eventually taking over Bob’s own workbench and inheriting his personal chisels. Today Damon carries on the greatest traditions established by Benedetto and has personally built the personal instruments of both Bob Benedetto and CEO Howard Paul.
Born and raised in Harlem, Montana, Damon’s father is a gunsmith and impressed upon him at an early age the pride in creating things with your hands and the necessity to be very detail oriented in doing so. His love for lutherie was sparked during a tour of Gibson Guitar’s acoustic division while he was attending Montana State University, Bozeman.
In 2004, Damon moved to Georgia to attend a guitar-building/repair school, Luthiers International, where he also taught the guitar-building course for a little over a year. During this time, Damon discovered the exceptional craftsmanship of Bob Benedetto, and he would spend hours supplementing his more formal education by studying Bob’s instructional videos.
Damon has always loved music; his father played guitar and started teaching him chords at about four-years old. His grandfather, uncle, and a cousin are all amateur musicians, so Damon grew up surrounded by live music. By middle school he was sitting in with local bands around the area, and upon moving to Savannah, he immediately started playing gigs here. To check him out live, just follow his band on Facebook, Damon and the Shitkickers.