Background and Motivation

Zeb Working on Lucky No. 13

Zebulon Turrentine is the son of a timber framer and visual artist, born in the first log cabin his father built and was raised as the 4th generation on that family farm. When he was a child, opportunities for exploring craft and woodworking were abundant and used to their fullest potential. His grandmother, a Julliard trained pianist, exposed him to classical music at a young age, and he later came to study classical guitar performance at Shenandoah Conservatory. During and after conservatory studies, he built guitars for Gallagher Guitar Company in Wartrace, TN. He later worked in the Peace Corps and ran a non-profit organization. These experiences coalesced into the creation of his own workshop where he works full-time handcrafting classical guitars near Alpine, TN. Owners of these guitars include performers and collectors around the world.

Raison d'Etre

While it is often taken for granted, being useful to others is perhaps the single most challenging endeavor.The economic viability of spending all one's time building guitars requires a peculiar attention to this fact. Perhaps even an obsession. Likewise, I have an obsession and a perpetual fascination in what makes a great guitar.

It is easy to find excuses as to why we might fall short of lofty goals, but in the final assessment, the fact is that a luthier's work must be the essential tool for an extremely difficult job that demands hours of practice per day. All this hard work and dedication is metted out upon the guitars we build, so it's very important that we build something on which this practitioner can eagerly anticipate doing their daily work. It is not easy to practice hours per day and create patterns of measurable success. There are many frustrations. The last thing thoughtful, dedicated musicians want is to question whether their rate of success is being diminished by their instrument. This variable must be deleted. And so it is that many guitars fail to meet that standard and their makers fail along with them. It is both cruel and important to aknowledge these fundamental truths of the trade.

But it's not good to source our motivation from fears of failure. So once the hardest truth is aknowledged, we fix our aim upon what is hopeful. That is to build the answer to the question of what makes a guitar irresistible. What does it sound like? What does it feel like when it's played? How does it smell? Is the visualization of the ideal guitar complete? Is what we built an accurate representation of what we visualized? Yes? No? Wait three years. Record your conclusions. Recite the cruel truths. Then you do it all over again...and again.

Crafting Friends

I have often thought that the most important step in building my guitars is crafting the many friendships that have come to form such a career. Friends materialize from every promotional event and guitar made.This alone forms the lifestyle of building guitars and creates wealth that far outweighs the usual cashflow concerns that are a part of any life in the arts. So to all those who own a part of my work and belong to my circle of friends, I am eternally grateful.


A deeper biographical sketch


Some pictures and a more complete narrative of my origins and pre-luthiery activities that birthed my current person, place and occupation.

Jamaican Cockpit Country

Peace Corps

Taking the opportunity to serve a small town in Jamaica for a couple of years added so much richness to my life. Here is a tribute to and some pictures of that experience.

Pictures of the shop and home landscape

The Shop

For those endeavoring a visit to my shop might ask how one might end up in such a place. The answer isn't that romantic, but maybe it is slightly so.