About Our Luthiers

Master-Luthier-Damon-Mailand-carves-Vinodetto-VIII-9-9-14-740x708Damon Mailand, Master Luthier

When Luthiers International recommended Damon Mailand to Benedetto for our first Savannah hire in 2006, the endorsement was so strong that we couldn’t help but question its sincerity. To our delight, we found who is perhaps the next generation’s greatest guitar maker!  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 instruments of both Bob Benedetto and President Howard Paul. Read more about Damon Mailand.


(LUTHIERS LISTED BY ORDER OF HIRE DATE)

BenedettoBambinoDlxS2100withFinisherLarryPerkins1-14-13-Gallery-512x800Lawrence “Larry” Perkins, Master Finisher

Lawrence “Larry” Perkins has worked as Benedetto’s Master Finisher since 2011, where he supervises all aspects of the Finishing Department. Born in Paw Paw, Michigan. Larry has studied music for most his life, beginning as a trombonist, and performing his first club gig at the age of 13. While studying music composition and arrangement at Western Michigan University, Larry began doing small repairs and guitar setup for friends. He was hired in 1996 by Heritage Guitars where he quickly moved into the finishing department due to his passion for the instrument and his attention to detail. A year later, he was supervising the department. During his ten years at Heritage, Larry did finish work on 7,804 instruments, including for Kenny Burrell, Roy Clark, Steve Howe, Gary Pucket, John Sebatian, Niki Fox, Charlie Daniels, Frankie Ballard, and Alvin Lee.

Larry has been a club musician throughout his 41-year career, performing in the Chicago-Detroit corridor, resort towns along Lake Michigan, and even a six-month stint at a blues club in Singapore. His acts over the years have opened for such blues luminaries as: Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang, Chris Duarte, The Kinsey Report, Rare Earth, The Guess Who, Shannon Kurfman, Hubert Sumlin, and Gatemouth Brown. He’s Benedetto’s “Resident Blues Guy,” but we let him work here anyway!

His impressive repertoire of instruments include all brass, stand-up bass, electric bass, C-plectrum banjo, and of course, guitar.


Luthier-Rick-Cervone-sets-up-Bravo-7-31-14-Benedetto-Guitars-Savannah-newsRick Cervone, Final Assembly Luthier

Rick Cervone joined Benedetto in 2007, moving from his small hometown of Oberlin, Ohio. He studied with Brian Galloup, graduating from his Masters Class. He is an integral part of the final assembly department, a very detailed and precise area to work within. Guitars come to Rick from finishing and buffing, and he then builds them out – putting on hardware and wiring, polishing the fretboards, installing strings, and all other manners of set-up. When the guitars leave final assembly, they are ready for our artists and customers to play and enjoy!

Rick’s greatest musical influence comes from The Beatles. “When I first heard them, that was it for me. My parents got me a guitar and I never looked back,” says Rick. He also plays piano and enjoys songwriting and recording as a hobby.

Rick has four grown children: Melissa, Greg, Allison, and Andrea.


Luthier-Phillip-Archibald-with-Bravo-Benedetto-Guitars-Savannah-GA-4-29-14-cb-newsPhillip Archibald, Professional Series Construction

Phillip “Phil” Archibald joined Benedetto in September 2012. From Manhattan Beach, California, Phil took his studies on the road to Big Rapids, Michigan where he studied at the Galoup School of Lutherie. Upon graduation, Phil was hired to work at Ellsberry Archtop Guitars where he honed all his skills of guitarmaking. At Benedetto, Phil is responsible for all aspects of our professional series guitars,  and works on the Flagship carved guitars – specifically binding soundholes and bodies, and doing the final preparation before they go to finishing.

Phil’s passion for guitars extends beyond their construction, alone – he also likes to play guitar and bass in his spare time. Phil is married to his wonderful wife Victoria, and they have a son, Greyson, and a daughter, Stella.


Colin SamekColin Samek, CNC Programming & Operation

Luthier Colin Samek, from Iowa City, Iowa, is one of our most recent additions at Benedetto Guitars, joining us in May 2015. Prior to joining our team in Savannah, Georgia, Colin studied for two years at Southeast Tech in Red Wing, Minnesota with David Vincent, Steve Rossow and Brian Boedigheimer. Before his formal education, he began working on guitars as a hobbyist under the guidance of his good friend, Jordan Wagner. Colin’s initial inspirations to build instruments were Hans Reichel and Yuri Landmann before he turned his focus to guitarmaking, specifically.

At Benedetto, Colin is responsible for CNC operation and other rough milling, as well as buffing the finished guitars. Over the years, he has played and toured with multiple bands and projects, most notably SSP, Big Box, and Gilt Gambrel.

Colin lives in Savannah with his wife Paige and their dog, Cotton Candy.


Taylor Powell, Whitewood Neck Department

In January 2017, Taylor Powell came to us from his home in Western Michigan, joining our whitewood neck department.

A longtime musician, Taylor began his professional journey into the musical world in 2010.  He studied education at Muskegon Community College while performing as a percussionist in the Wind Ensemble. He also performed during that time with a worship band for a Christian Organization at Grand Valley State University, and tutored beginner students in fundamental guitar skills.

From 2013-2015, Taylor worked with Meyer Music assisting the Instrument Repair Technician. His training included instrument upkeep, cleaning processes, and supplier/inventory management. In 2014, Taylor received his Journeyman Program Certification from Galloup School of Guitar Building and Repair.  Throughout his training, he consistently received above-average scores as he learned the ins and outs of construction techniques for electric and acoustic guitars.

Since moving to Savannah, Taylor enjoys playing downtown at Compassion Christian Church at the historic Savannah Theater. He also puts his fine motorskills to work painting miniatures for a social tabletop game he plays locally.


Sean Tanner, Buffing & Final Assembly

In 2018, Sean’s passion for luthiery and his affinity for Savannah have brought this early Benedetto Guitars family member back home to stay!

Sean Tanner hails from Statesboro, GA.  He first joined Benedetto Guitars from 2008 to 2010, and again briefly in 2012. He was initially hired after attending both Luthier’s International (Luthiery) and Georgia Southern University (Music Education, Guitar, Voice). Sean will be working on a range of processes in our buffing and final assembly departments.

In between his stints with Benedetto, Sean put his hands to good use! He was a Master Luthier/Production Manager for Chris Mitchell Guitars from 2010-2012, where he also assisted in the initial design of their flagship models. From 2012-2016, he was a combat medic in the Army stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. Sean assisted in a variety of treatments and surgical procedures in a clinic, in addition to working alongside the infantry.

Sean plays guitar and bass, and can even be coaxed to sing “if the mood’s right.” He enjoys all types of music and artists ranging from Wes Montgomery to Mastodon. He has been married to his wonderful wife Alicia for six years; she is a professional photographer and graduate of the Georgia Film Academy.


Steve Holzknecht, Finish Department

Steve Holzknecht first joined the Benedetto team in 2013.  Over the next three years he applied his skills to carving top and back arches and setting necks, as well as every aspect of neck construction.  He returned in 2018 to work in the Finish Department, apprenticing under Master Finisher Larry Perkins.

Hailing from Sebastian, Florida, Steve first developed an interest in luthiery at the age of 15 while restoring a 1984 Kramer Baretta with his older brother in his father’s garage. Still in his collection, that guitar and others salvaged from eBay fostered a growing interest in becoming a better player and craftsman.  Steve graduated from Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in the fall of 2011.  Like many of our luthiers, Steve plays guitar and makes his own instruments on the side.

Returning to Savannah with his girlfriend and their two dogs, Steve credits his family’s steadfast support for the opportunity to pursue a career he truly loves.