Meet The Techs
(this is Andy)
Meet The Techs
(this is Andy)
Mitch Nelson is an Illinois native, bless his heart. A graduate of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix, he knows his way around just about anything with strings on it. Prior to starting at Third Coast in 2013, Mitch did tech work for the Old Town School of Folk Music here in Chicago. Now he splits his time between our Northfield satellite location and the Racine shop, performing all manner of repairs and customizations on both urban and sub-urban guitars. If Mitch isn’t stretching your strings, he’s jamming out to Punch Brothers or Weezer, picking just like Reverend Gary Davis on a Martin 000-28, or supervising his kid’s work in the garden. Mitch warns that if you ever drop your keys in a river of molten lava, let ‘em go, because man, they’re gone.
Andy comes to us from the high plains of southeastern Wyoming. Andy’s parents took him to a Doc & Merle Watson concert somewhere around age ten, and a lifelong enthusiasm for bluegrass and acoustic instruments was forged. He got started in repair work by reading books about it. Actual paper books. Let that sink in for a minute. After being a self-employed tech for a few years, Andy joined us at Third Coast in 2011, operating one of our satellite shops for two years before moving to the Racine Ave location to focus on structural and finish repairs. When he’s not here gluing or painting or fretting something, he’s likely to be playing music, working on his boutique line of effects pedals, or just generally trying to be more tactful.
Mitch can do it all.
Mitch can do it all.
Nathan Weathers, originally an Iowan, obtained his Luthier Merit Badge from Minnesota’s Southeast Technical College in Red Wing. He’s been Chris’ right-hand-man for years here at Third Coast, handling customer service and supervising the goings-on throughout the shop. He also spends a couple of days every week manning our Downer’s Grove satellite location. Despite all these various duties, he still manages to repair a few guitars and amps on a regular basis. Nate’s knowledge of guitars and amps could be fairly described as encyclopedic – as a lifelong horse-trader of music gear, he’s had his hands on a good deal more than your average tech has. If he’s not working in the shop, he’s usually jamming some sort of filthy rock-n-roll on a Thunderbird bass, hanging out with his sons, or doing something super-manly like shooting rifles or riding a motorcycle.
R.D. | The Master Tech
Although he’s been around the block a few times since, Robert Daniel (R.D.) originated not far from here in Merrilville, IN. As a young guitarist, Bob started getting curious and taking things apart. Eventually he developed more skill with putting them back together, leading to a long career in guitar repair and building including stints at Tobias Guitars and Washburn. He started at Bob’s Guitar Service in February of 1996 and has been the master tech since Chris bought the company in 1997. Bob doesn’t have the luxury of specializing, because he can do it all. His deep appreciation for detail compels him to get all the little subtleties right, making for major repairs and restorations that just look “right” whether they’re intended to look like new or not. R.D. enriches the shop environment with regular Hawkwind, Leonard Cohen, and Chrome listening sessions, makes a mean hobo skillet, and suggests that you take a few guitar lessons.
As a youngster on the southwest side of Chicago, Zach took guitar lessons, played in bands, and by way of the legend of Brian May’s homemade guitar, got interested in making guitars himself. After completing the Master Program Gallup School of Lutherie in Michigan, he started at Third Coast in 2006. He’s now one of our high-end techs who restores your shattered hopes and dreams. Zach’s curiosity about woodworking and finishing knows no bounds, helping him to devise and execute great repairs even when things get weird. In his spare time, he might be found working in his own wood shop, playing guitar in some rock band or as a side man, or perfecting his signature dance move, the Mad Dip.
Benny Monson claims that he came into Third Coast to try to buy a switch ring some time in 2007, but instead was offered a job and has since learned all about guitars. We know the truth is that he went to guitar-building school in Vermont, but we still humor him when he tells this story. Benny has a great eye for the visual aspect of this work. As a result, he’s able to make some of the strangest requests come out looking so good that they no longer seem strange. He’s got a soft spot for funky old cheap guitars, so be aware that if you bring in your old Harmony Rocket, he will try to buy it from you. In his spare time he tends to his adorable family, his beagle Frank, several old buildings, and several old radios, record players, and motorcycles. He never did get that switch ring. He’s still here. Coincidence? We think not.
Konstantine (aka “Ken,” aka “Curly,” aka“Special K”) has been a Chicago guy since the age of 7 when he immigrated here from Kiev. As a kid he took apart and reassembled his first electric guitar the day he got it. Later he got interested enough to attend the Chicago School of Guitar Making. He’s been here at Third Coast since 2014, with hundreds of fret levels and setups under his belt, and always has at least one project guitar or pedal or amp cooking on the side. Outside Third Coast, he stays busy as a guitarist for hire and a member of several bands. Other interests include film, vinyl records, and making his own cheese.
Chris is also known as “Chad,” because we can’t have two guys named Chris answering the phone. The other Chris owns the joint and refuses to change his name. Chris Kingston came to us from Boone, North Carolina in 2013. Technically speaking, he’s our shipping and receiving guy, but he’s also that guy who jumps in wherever he’s needed to help out and keep it all rolling. Chris has been taking his guitars and his friends’ guitars apart and putting them back together since he was a teenager in the hills of NC. If he’s not on deck at Third Coast, he’s probably in the back shredding some metal on guitar, or at home shredding something on the piano to scare his cat.
As a young Philly kid, Mike was fascinated by synthesizers, so much so that he eventually learned about electronics in order to be able to build a synth. He’s got a number of modular synthesizers under his belt now, and has been spending his days fixing amps and electronics with us since 2014. When he’s not doing one of those things, you’ll probably find him tinkering with guitars, listening to some noisy art music, or swirling fine red wine around in one of those crystal globes.
Stay tuned for tidbits on the rest of the team as John Slevira and Mike Lamantia prepare for their close-ups.