Robert “Robbie” O’Brien began his guitar building career in São Paulo, Brazil in 1997. For three years, Robbie built classical guitars under Antonio Tessarin, who remains one of Brazil’s most highly sought after luthiers. While still living in Brazil and upon returning to the United States, Robbie studied acoustic guitar building under Kent Everett in Atlanta, GA. He has also studied in Spain with renowned classical guitar builder José Romanillos.
In 2003, Robbie founded the Lutherie Program in the Fine Woodworking Department at Red Rocks Community College in Denver, CO. He developed the program into one of the largest lutherie schools in the United States. By the end of his tenure in 2012, the course list had expanded from a single classical guitar building class to include classes in acoustic guitar, electric guitar, archtop guitar, mandolin, violin, guitar setup & repair, French polish, high gloss finishes, and inlay.
One of Robbie’s greatest passions in lutherie is teaching. He has taught in Taiwan, Spain, Canada, Brazil, and the United States, including at the world-renowned Marc Adams School of Woodworking. He offers building and finishing classes, as well as master classes, adding other renowned luthiers to the teaching roster as well. In addition, Robbie holds one-on-one and small group guitar building and finishing classes in his personal shop. He also offers consultations to individuals and small groups wanting help with their guitar building.
To date, Robbie has personally supervised the building of well over 800 guitars made by students in Colorado, from teenagers to retirees. Several of his students relocated to Colorado specifically to study with him.
As a teacher, Robbie’s influence extends internationally. The DVDs that Robbie made for his early students have guided thousands more guitar builders who purchased guitar materials from Luthiers Mercantile International. Several years ago, Robbie introduced the popular “Luthier Tips du Jour” instructional video series, which is available free on YouTube. Viewings have topped 8 million.
More recently, Robbie began producing and releasing online lutherie instruction. His “Online Classical Guitar Building Course” and “Online Acoustic Guitar Building Course”, among others, are being used the world over to produce high-quality instruments. These videos bring the viewer into O’Brien’s personal shop and demonstrate every step of building an instrument from scratch.
Robbie designs, builds and sells custom classical, flamenco, steel-string, and electric guitars. His guitars are built one at a time to the specifications of each client. Robbie offers custom wood selections, including Brazilian Rosewood. Options including cutaway designs and sound ports are also available. A high gloss finish is standard for his steel string guitars and French polish is standard on his classical guitars.
Located: Parker, CO United States
Professionally Selling For: 20 Years
Professional Organizations: Guild of American Luthiers , Guitar Foundation of America , Colorado Luthiers
Studied With: José Romanillos , Antonio Tessarin , Kent Everett
Shows: Healdsburg Guitar Festival , Santa Barbara Guitar Show , Guitar Foundation of America , Guitar Town at Copper Mountain Colorado , Colorado Guitar Show
Artists: Jim Deeming , Yoham Ortiz
Instrument Types: Steel String Acoustic , Classical Acoustic