Luthier Ben Manning was born in Bangor, North Wales, and grew up near Liverpool, England. He has been playing Bluegrass music for fun since 1966 with many bands, in both England and the USA. In Minnesota he has performed with Woodrush, Wheatstraw Suite, Bluegrass Inc., Dick Kimmel & Co., and most recently with Long Time Gone. Ben plays the guitar and occasionally picks up the mandolin.

His deep interest in the culture of Bluegrass and Old-Time music motivated Ben to build stringed instruments on & off since high school (a long time ago). He started out building Appalachian Dulcimers when he still lived in Liverpool. He also built one guitar and a couple of mandolins during this time. He has been working on converting a Waymann mandolin banjo to a 5-string for decades and is happy to report that this project is nearing completion.

Ben enjoyed a a 40-year career in computing, starting in the UK and moving to the USA in 1972. He actually spent 37 years with the same company, through a series of mergers and downsizing (that doesn’t happen very often these days). During his computing career Ben earned a BS in Computer Science and an MS in Software Engineering; he was also very active in the Twin Cities Section of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Ben has his name on two US Patents and created other patentable ideas that were not pursued for various reasons. He is hoping to turn all this creativity into developing better techniques for building stringed instruments.

After retiring from his day job he earned his formal diploma in Guitar Repair and Archtop construction through a one-year intensive program under David Vincent at Southeast Technical College in Red Wing, Minnesota. He now lives in Red Wing and builds stringed instruments in the Bluegrass tradition full-time.

Ben would love to talk with you about building the instrument you have been dreaming of all these years. (He will also take on interesting repairs and setups, but does not actively seek this kind of work ;-))