12th Root Guitars
Starting 12th Root Guitars was a somewhat unintentional thing. I had built a couple of guitars that I occasionally had opportunity to share with others. When I would show the guitars that I had built to friends, neighbors and extended family, they would often ask, "Do you sell them?" It hadn't really occurred to me to try. But I am an engineer by training and like any good engineer, I tend to consider my work as successful only if it is useful to others. I'm sure there are psychologists that would have something to say about that, but I consider it an asset that continues to drive me.
Much of my youth in southern Wisconsin was spent immersed in music. My father was a musician, performing in our small town of New Glarus, as well as across the Midwest and Europe. Along with my saxophone playing in our school band, I spent my summers practicing and performing with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps. We traveled the U.S. and Canada and won an international championship in 1979.
When I moved to the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado from Wisconsin over 35 years ago, I traded in my horn for a micrometer. I was extremely fortunate to have been mentored by an amazing engineer and machinist. He gave me instruction on trigonometry, mechanisms design and electronics in exchange for sweeping the shop floors and hand finishing parts in his machine shop. He later offered me a paid position as a machinist's apprentice. I was encouraged by him and my family to focus my drive to create and build toward earning an engineering degree.
After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I spent over 25 years developing medical devices. I have been fortunate enough to have been granted over 50 U.S. patents for those devices. Several years of my career were spent designing surgically implanted hearing devices. The development of those devices was a tremendous technical challenge and the experience I gained in acoustics and vibration has proven useful to this day. However, it was the experience of witnessing the patients when their devices were activated that really stuck with me. Many of them could now enjoy family conversation and music for the first time in a long time. It was during that time that I first began thinking about combining my lifelong love of music, my engineering skills and my new-found interest and experience in acoustics.
When I initially took interest in building my first guitar, it was my wife Kim who encouraged me by buying the materials for my first build as a gift. Although I believed that I would ultimately turn those materials into some pretty pricey firewood, that guitar was finished and now belongs to her. As imperfect as it is, it remains a constant reminder of the beginnings of what has become my most rewarding creative and technical undertaking; an endeavor that requires artistic, musical and technical expression, and stretches me with every successive build.
In both engineering and instrument building, nothing gives me greater professional satisfaction than delivering an exceptional finished product to a delighted client.
I hope that you will allow me to turn my passion for this craft toward the realization of your next guitar.
Robert Schneider -
Founder, 12th Root Guitars
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