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TJ Thompson is one of the most respected names in the world of vintage Martin guitars, a repairperson who can seemingly fix the impossible. Though he flies under the radar with no advertising and little publicity (aside from his occasional appearances in the Fretboard Journal), he has no shortage of work from collectors, high-end dealers and touring musicians. Occasionally, he even burns the midnight oil building Martin-inspired guitars under his own name. (As of this writing, he’s built 87 guitars from scratch.)
Today, TJ returns to the FJ podcast in a conversation that covers a lot of ground: his initial foray into guitar repair (the ’70s Martin D-35 with intonation issues that got him started in lutherie, his stints with Dana Bourgeois and Elderly Instruments); the inspiration that he finds from people and problem solving; and a few of the complicated guitar repairs he has recently tackled. Though there are plenty of guitar geek revelations, more than anything this is a chat about following your passion and finding mastery in your craft. Because of that, it’s one of our favorite episodes to date.
Note: TJ also appeared in the Fretboard Journal #26 and has been on Fretboard Journal Podcast episodes 55, 97, 122 and 123.
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Above: TJ Thompson with a 1932 Martin OM-28. Photo by Steve Krieger.