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" -- literally "prewar") 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. 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 an 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, 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 for free 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.

I have two daughters and a lovely wifey and a very supportive and creative family, which makes life... fun! 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. This is a serious "work perk."

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 in 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 (when necessary) to get my facts in line. However, 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 public "library" for information on the lesser-known 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 number matched to a known accurate database for a maker. In that case the date is much more specific. Update, here: I've started to simply label things by the direct year (like "1947") or by the decade ("1930s") for simplicity's sake. Older posts display my old dating method. I try to elaborate on my guess as to where the instrument lines up within the decade in the post's writeup, of course.

What else...? Instruments posted in the last 2-3 weeks are likely still "in stock" at our store, but older posts from years ago 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.1880s-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.

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 postcard 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. Sometimes these include small tutorials.