Beginning the Journey
Hello, my name is Joel Teel. My hands are the “two hands” that craft the beautiful guitars here at Two Hands Guitar Company. My workshop is located outside of quiet Fairhope, Alabama, on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. I became interested in building acoustic guitars in the mid-1990s, after graduating from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Communication.
After spending 20 years working in the printing industry, my life changed course and I began building custom boat interiors. The skills I learned would perfectly suit my career in lutherie, where nothing is ever plumb or square. During this time, I poured my savings into building a workshop next to my home. It would need to have controlled temperature and humidity, along with ample space, proper equipment, good lighting, and sufﬁcient electrical service to power all of it. Over the next several years, I built it with my own two hands—along with the help of amazing friends and family members. I kept my eyes solely focused on the vision of building acoustic guitars.
A Remarkable Apprenticeship
During this time, I met the man who has become my teacher, my guide, and my good friend: Stephen J. Sheriff, who builds his own “Edwinson Guitars”. He had moved back to Birmingham after living in Seattle for 20-some-odd years, where he’d established himself as a well-respected and sought-after luthier. He graciously invited me to visit his new shop. I made three more visits over the next year, where Steve demonstrated various processes in acoustic guitar construction. I was mesmerized! Just as I was putting the ﬁnishing touches on my own shop, Steve was in the process of leaving Birmingham. We agreed to combine our resources in Fairhope.
I can’t overstate the impact Steve’s mentorship has had on my journey into lutherie. I am truly blessed to learn from his 20+ years of experience. He has guided me to unimaginable (to me) success, and around the potential craters and pitfalls of acoustic guitar construction.
Handing on to You an Heirloom
From the very beginning, I had no desire to build hobby-level guitars. I wanted to build heirloom-quality works of art that would produce beautiful music in the two hands of the skilled musician. I’m here not to create as many guitars as possible. Quality eclipses quantity. I’d rather take the time needed to put my heart and soul into every guitar that I’m blessed to be able to create.
Twenty years ago, I was the manager of a printing company, visiting my sister in Seattle. I sent back a postcard to my mom saying, “I want a home by the water where I can just build guitars.” I now live that wish every day—to craft what you’ve been wishing for.