Bob White

The 2006 Ohio Heritage Fellow in Material Culture, Bob White is widely recognized as being one of the finest builders in the U.S of mandolins and other stringed instruments. Born and raised in southeastern Ohio, White now lives in Coolville, a Meigs County town on the road between Athens and Parkersburg, West Virginia. White is a specialist in building “F-style” mandolins, the kind played by Bill Monroe and most other bluegrass mandolinists. He’s also a highly skilled inlay artist and many of his instruments are beautifully ornamented with abalone and mother-of-pearl decorations. He mixes his own finishes and glues, rare for a builder today.

Bob White is primarily a self-taught luthier who learned his art in the most traditional of ways—lots of trial and error. He worked for a few years at Stewart-MacDonald Banjo Company in Athens, but for the last 30 years, he has worked on his own, making and selling high-quality mandolins one at a time. White is also widely known and admired as a generous mentor who has trained and freely shared his time and expertise with other builders. White has long been an enthusiastic participant in the Ohio Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.

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