BATTLE CREEK, Mich –
Music is a passion for many and Wayne Hayward, a sales chief for Useable Sales Branch at Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services in Battle Creek, Michigan, takes his passion to another level as a part-time luthier.
A luthier builds and repairs string instruments like guitars, violins and ukuleles – all of which Wayne has made during his 20-year hobby as a luthier. Wayne’s relationship with music dates to his childhood when his mother - a drum majorette - encouraged him to start piano lessons.
“[My] mother forced me into playing piano when I was a kid and I hated every bit of it,” Wayne said. “But that gave me the foundation for the rest of it.”
After freshman year of college, Wayne decided to take a different path and joined the United States Air Force as a mission generation vehicular equipment mechanic. It was during his time in the Air Force, he discovered his interest in making instruments.
“I started out making flutes and my wife told me I had too many flutes laying around the house, so I had to find a new hobby,” Wayne said.
While searching for a new project, his father, who was also a woodworker, passed away. This led him to his next instrument venture – a mandolin.
“He [my father] always wanted to learn how to play a mandolin and never learned so I thought it would be kind of cool to learn how to build one,” Wayne said.
In honor of his father, Wayne ordered a mandolin kit online but realized the kit was subpar to his own woodworking talent and decided to take matters into his own hands by designing and building a mandolin of his own.
“I did some research online and figured out how to build one. I thought that would be the end of it until some guys played it and wanted me to build them one. And then the next thing I know, I started building tons of them,” Wayne said.
One mandolin turned into countless other string instrument projects – some as custom design projects and others as restoration projects. Wayne’s luthier catalog includes mandolins, ukuleles, violins and several types of guitars.
After two decades as a part-time luthier, Wayne still gets excited about sitting down with a new client to discuss a project.
“The whole thing is really cool,” Wayne said. “I really enjoy putting it together, figuring out how to build it and making it work. And then ultimately listening to somebody play it. I can’t pinpoint any piece of the puzzle that doesn’t give me some sort of excitement.”
In June music is celebrated around the globe on World Music Day. Playing live is encouraged – to introduce others to music they may not normally listen to. On the next World Music Day, think of the luthiers behind the string instruments and the passion and adoration they have for their craft.