About Rickert & Hale: Makers of Mandolin Family Instruments, Including Octave Mandolins, Citterns, Irish Bouzoukis and Mandocellos
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Don Rickert, Ph.D.
Don Rickert, an Ergonomist, Industrial Designer and Luthier, has, for the past 15 or so years, been designing and building custom musical instruments. Before that he was deeply involved in the invention of Interactive TV, Internet Banking and teaching Design Research Methods in the Industrial Design department at Georgia Tech. He earned his Ph.D. at the George Washington University, School of Business. Don founded D. Rickert Musical Instruments in 2007.
Jesse Hale, Ed.D.
Jesse (AKA Randy) Hale, whose guitars are branded “J. Hale”, is also a song writer and publishing agent for a number of fiction writers (See Shades Creek Press). Before becoming a professional luthier, he had a long career as an educator, whose service included Principal of Towns County (Georgia) High School and Superintendent of Schools, Savannah, Georgia (USA). He earned his Ed.D. at Vanderbilt University.
D. Rickert Musical Instruments
D. Rickert Musical Instruments, formally established in 2007, is based in Hiawassee, Georgia, USA. It grew out of the design research consultancy, Don Rickert Design. Both are DBAs (“Doing Business As”) of Wiederholt & Rickert Partners, LLC, a Georgia Limited Liability Corporation, established in 2006. D. Rickert Musical Instruments is an established and well-known maker of high-end bespoke stringed instruments, primarily of the bowed variety (violins and fiddles, octave violins, violas and violoncellos da spalla) to date. They have also made a number of mandolin family one-offs in the past 15 years.
Who Plays Instruments Made by D. Rickert Musical Instruments?
Since our founding in 2007, our instruments have made it into the hands of more than 250 musicians. A short list of some of the well-known musicians playing our instruments include: Alasdair Fraser, Darol Anger, Natalie Haas, Andrew Gonzalez (violoncello da spalla), William Hurd (violoncello da spalla), Kristen Rule (violoncello da spalla), Albert Chang (aka Sleightlymusical) (violoncello da spalla), Peter Walker (violoncello da spalla), Gary Payne, Aindrias de Staic, David Thames and Mary Anne Thames.
The Establishment of Rickert & Hale, Luthiers
For starters, I simply got tired of the fickle nature of the custom bespoke instrument trade and was looking for a new adventure. As a luthier, there is great satisfaction derived from designing and building interesting one-off instruments. What is not satisfying is having to spend continuous effort on trying to stay ahead of one musical instrument fad after another. In my adult life, and certainly as a professional luthier, I have seen more over-hyped instrument types than I care to enumerate go the way of the Dot.com bubble of the late 1990s. If you are too young to remember, just Google it. The point is that there was an irrational exuberance vis-à-vis tech company stocks and the bubble burst. Lots of people lost a whole lot of money and a whole lot of people lost their jobs.
We will continue to welcome commissions to make all sorts of exotic instruments with small niche followings, but our primary focus will be on making and selling instruments for which there is an actual measurable market. This gets us to mandolin family instruments and the formation of Rickert & Hale.
Rickert & Hale's Entry Into the "Big Mandolin" Arena
When I say “Big Mandolins” I am referring generally to octave mandolins, mandocellos, citterns and what are commonly referred to these days as “Irish bouzoukis”. Our colleague, Roger Landes, points out that, in Ireland, these instruments are simply known as “bouzoukis”, just as, in Belgium, “Brussel sprouts” are simply called “sprouts” and “Belgian waffles” are called “waffles”. But I digress.
As a long-time enthusiast, and occasional player (I am primarily a fiddler), of these wonderful tenor and baritone range instruments I have been iterating designs for years while meanwhile earning a reputation for my bowed string instruments, such as the Violoncello da Spalla, octave violins and the like.