About


Antebellum Instruments is both the name of my business, located in our family store ("The Wildwood Flower") in Rochester, Vermont -- and also the name of this blog, where I post up images, history, and lore about the instruments that I repair, restore, and sell.

Speaking of the business... I work primarily on pre-WWII (hence "antebellum") guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukes, you name it... and am constantly on the prowl for the nicest and most interesting player's instruments from the c.1850-1950 time period, specializing quite a bit in the '20s and '30s. My work is concentrated around the doc's motto of "do no harm" while also trying to to the best for the, eh, patient! Instruments come out of surgery playing as best as they can with as minimal amount of modification/work as possible to get them to that point, so they retain their originality.

My name is Jake Wildwood and I also happen to be a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, 5-string and tenor banjo, mandolin, fiddle, various ukuleles, upright bass, etc... I have lots of funky and fun stringed instruments hanging about so it'd be silly to list them all). You can check out my music and download my albums in MP3 at my website: www.jakewildwood.com

I happen to live right in the heart of Vermont's Green Mountains, in the White River Valley, and am thrilled about it. I can't tell you enough about how wonderful and peaceful it is to live up here. If you're ever in the area, it's worthwhile to come visit our town, as Rochester is a lovely little 1000-folk, creative, artsy, and very Vermont place to be. We also have not one, but two incredible cafes/eateries right across the street from one another.

I have two daughters and a lovely wifey and a very supportive and creative family, which makes life... great! It's wonderful to be doing work that also involves my passion for music... and I get to play all that stuff before it goes out into the world, too!

I'm self-taught and certainly don't think of myself as a glamorous, high profile, high-dollar luthier. I'm more of a country doctor of the trade. My focus is on recycling old (and new) instruments so they can live another hundred years ("gods willing") in the hands of musicians who will enjoy them.


Blog Post Format Info

When I post information about an instrument, I do a bunch of research to get my facts in line. but if you know better, please let me know in an email/call. I'm extremely happy to fix old posts that may be erroneous as I consider this blog a sort of "library" for information on the lesser-known and not as high-end instruments of bygone times.

The "c.1945" or similar post title for each instrument is often not a specific date, but more of a +/- 5 years date for the instrument's manufacture. This is different, however, when I have a serial# matched to a known accurate database for the maker. Then the date is much more specific (ie, like on Martin, Gibson, Vega, Weymann, etc. instruments which have mostly confirmed dates for serial numbers).

What else...? Instruments posted in the last 2-3 weeks are likely still "in stock" at our store, but older posts generally have long since sold, though it's worth asking me as I may have something around for a lot longer if I'm hoarding it for recording purposes...! 

As far as identifying unmarked instruments as made by a certain maker -- I have a good general knowledge of who made what c.1900-1960s -- and often this is simply corroborated by the fact that I've seen a lot of like instruments (both branded and unbranded) pass through my hands. One good example are the huge amount of Regal ukuleles I've worked on... and you can find them under every conceivable brand name under the sun... but they're mostly of a very particular design and pattern for very specific periods, so it's easy for me to peg them down.

The "Clippings" posts are images pulled from the Music Trade Review Archives PDF files (and other sources, sometimes) that pertain to history that I find interesting enough to post on the blog. It's always fun to see what the manufacturers were up to 100+ years ago

The "Ephemera" posts are images I've taken from eBay auctions -- mostly vintage post card and photo auctions -- and related to the period and types of music my business is centered around.

The "Workshop" posts are images and write-ups pertaining to possibly interesting odds and ends related to my actual repairs on instruments.