Traditional Woodworking Tours #2: Wayne Henderson Guitars - Rugby, Virginia

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Blog entry by WoodAndShop posted 05-08-2014 02:48 AM 3874 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Bill Anderson - Chapel Hill, North Carolina Part 2 of Traditional Woodworking Tours series Part 3: Virginia's Frontier Culture Museum – 1740s Settlement »

By Joshua Farnsworth (Writer at

In the above Video I show a visit that I made to the workshop of legendary guitar luthier and bluegrass musician, Wayne Henderson. Wayne’s shop and home sit along a quiet country rode in the rural village of Rugby, Virginia. Read my original article here.

Wayne Henderson’s performance resume stretches from The White House to Carnegie Hall, and all the way to the Queen of England. He is perhaps even more well-known for his world-class custom-made guitars and mandolins.

Over 500 custom Henderson Guitars have graced the fingers of world-renowned musicians such as Eric Clapton, Doc Watson, Peter Rowan, Norman Blake, and Brad Paisley.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a custom Henderson guitar, then you’d better get in line behind some pretty famous (and wealthy) musicians and collectors. Wayne’s cozy and fairly-tidy shop is filled with guitar parts, familiar & unfamiliar hand tools & power tools, and exotic woods from all over the world. The floor is covered with curly wood shavings – produced by endless hours of hand whittling, planing, and scraping.

Over the years, the Henderson Guitar shop has become an unofficial pilgrimage stop along the world-famous bluegrass route, known as The Crooked Road. If you come on the right day, it’s likely that you’ll run into someone famous. Before his death, Doc Watson (Wayne’s close friend) was a regular visitor to the wood shop. Wayne Henderson’s personal apprentice has been his daughter, Elizabeth “Jane” Henderson. My wife Laura grew up with Elizabeth, and that is how we were introduced to Wayne.

Wayne and Elizabeth have worked together on many guitars, and now Wayne’s reputation for skill and craftsmanship has passed to Elizabeth. If you’d like to Contact Elizabeth Henderson for a custom-made Henderson guitar or ukulele , then contact her through her blog “The Luthier’s Apprentice.

Wayne took time out of his busy schedule to show us around his workshop, share some of his special experiences, and pick some amazing songs on his favorite guitars and a nearly-finished mandolin.

Over a barbecue lunch in his house, Wayne pulled out an old “guitar” that he made when he was 7 or 8 years old. The body was made from a tobacco box, and the string came from fishing line. He also spoke of his passion for the Boston Red Sox, showed us some of his guns, and strummed some of his favorite guitars that he has made (and kept) over the years. His eyes really lit up when he pulled out “number 400″, a beautiful acoustic guitar, with custom inlays and a sound as warm as the sun. Watch the video to hear a couple songs on this guitar.

We had a great and memorable day with Wayne and Elizabeth Henderson, and hope to return to their workshop soon! You can learn more about Wayne Henderson Guitars and Wayne’s bluegrass music festival on his website.

-- Joshua Farnsworth - Free Traditional Hand Tool Woodworking Tutorials:

5 comments so far

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2536 days

#1 posted 05-08-2014 12:16 PM

thanks for sharing this man…was really cool to watch and read.

-- Steve

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1568 posts in 3741 days

#2 posted 05-08-2014 04:25 PM

That video was FANFREAKINTASTIC Joshua, thanks for posting!

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5106 posts in 4137 days

#3 posted 05-08-2014 05:58 PM

That just makes ya know how many really good luthiers (and pickers) are out there.


View WoodAndShop's profile


149 posts in 1686 days

#4 posted 05-09-2014 12:41 PM

You’re welcome everyone. Wayne’s a pretty cool guy.

-- Joshua Farnsworth - Free Traditional Hand Tool Woodworking Tutorials:

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3043 days

#5 posted 05-09-2014 03:54 PM

Thanks for the great tour and pickin’, Wayne.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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