Wyatt Wade Wilkie
Hand-builds around a dozen archtop guitars and mandolins per year in his small workshop on the coast of Vancouver Island where he has lived for several years with his wife, Emily and two children Jasper and Linnea. He considers himself lucky to have finally arrived at such a beautiful place to live and work after a lengthy and unpredictable journey.
Prior to setting up shop in British Columbia Wyatt had his workshop in Savannah, Georgia where he worked as apprentice to renowned jazz guitar maker Bob Benedetto shortly after Bob opened his shop there. As well as building Bob’s high-end guitars Wyatt also had the title of Master Craftsman of the company and filled many rolls, all the while still whittling away in his own shop at home making guitars and mandolins of his own design.
The years before that, from 2001-2006 Wyatt had a small workshop near the town clocktower in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth. The five years in Wales were well spent. Working out of a building which has stood since 1798 and what was once the site of the first Methodist Church in all of Wales, Wyatt was able to really produce, as well as being able to travel extensively. He was able to build 10-12 mandolins per year and travel to cities such as London, Paris, Helsinki and even as far afield as Tokyo to sell his instruments. This was an extremely productive period for Wyatt not only for building but for developing a thick skin and learning the true value of rejection, as well as the sweetness and frailty of success.
Before moving to Wales Wyatt worked as a grave digger in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he built his very first instrument, a mandocello of sorts, in 1999. He went on to make several more shortly after and by this time it was too late, the illness of making stringed instruments had taken hold.
Wyatt traces the beginnings of his craft back further than this however, back to the years 1993-97 when he built custom instrument cases in Calgary, Alberta. Working for Calton Cases of Canada he became familiar with the work of James D’Aquisto, John Monteleone and other talented luthiers working at that time. The cases were custom fitted, requiring an intimate knowledge of the measurements involved in creating a perfect fit.
In the summer of 1997 Wyatt moved to Sumatra, Indonesia where he spent the next 2 years playing mandolin in a traditional Malay music group called “Boedak Boedak Kecoh” (the Wild Boys) and it was during this time he came across the maker of a stringed instrument called the Gambus and this was the first moment he realized “I can make this”.
Wyatt was born on Vancouver Island in 1970 and now lives in Royston, BC, in the beautiful Comox Valley.