5 years ago I came across a Weissenborn made by Neil Russell of Celtic Cross Instruments from Victoria BC. After roughly a minute of playing it, I had made the decision to buy it, though I could barely afford it at the time due to moving out on my own from my parents house at 19. This was my second Weissenborn. It quickly became the only instrument I played. Early in the morning, first thing getting home from work, and last thing before bed. I spent a lot of time playing, writing and perfecting music on this Weissenborn. This instrument has become a focal point of my music and life.
Early this year I was walking past my favourite guitar shop, Classic Guitars on Fort, and noticed a couple of Weissenborns in the shop window. Most shops in Victoria don’t carry Weissenborns so despite being in a rush, I popped inside. I spent an hour playing all three. Constantly rotating between them, I played anything that came to mind, even wrote some new riffs. These Weissenborns felt right, like I recognized them and had been playing them for years. They were in fact, much like the Celtic Cross I had at home. Even the info sheet inside was similar to Neil’s. I asked the shop owner about them and he told me they were made locally by Mike Rusen, who had learned his craft from Neil Russell. He didn’t have nearly as many years behind him making instruments but his teacher taught him well. Mike's product was right up there with Neil’s. Now most times I walk by Classic Guitars, I stop in the say hello to both Mike Powell, the shop owner, as well as play his Weissenborns.
Over the summer my manager contacted Mike Rusen about me meeting up with him to check out his instruments. Having a much busier summer than usual with shows, travel, writing and recording we didn’t get a chance to meet in person until recently. I had a long weekend and spent the day in search of surf, but finding a flat ocean, I sat by a fire with food, beer and a Weissenborn. I stayed as long as I could for the swell to kick up but had to leave so I could meet this local Weissenborn maker. Originally I was a bit nervous, but upon meeting Mike that feeling quicky left as I found someone who was much like myself. Needless to say we got along quite well. After much talking, playing and checking out each other’s Weissenborns , we talked about building a Weissenborn. And not just any Weissenborn, but one that was custom made from lumber I picked. A true west coast instrument from old growth Vancouver Island cedar, Van Isle maple and imported mahogany. I honestly cannot properly express the amount of excitement and appreciation I have right now and really can’t thank Mike enough. The making of this Weissenborn will be very important to the album I am currently working on and when finished, you can expect me to go straight into studio with it to record and release the first single while the rest of the album is in progress. Over the next few weeks and months I am looking forward to working with Mike and getting a much deeper connection with this instrument and any other future instruments we may work on. I will be posting about the progress of the building along the way and can’t wait to share this experience with you!
An Instrument By Michael C. Rusen