Luthier Webb

Local musician, Bob Webb, recently set up a home business as both a stringed instrument repairman and as a recording engineer. Here, he looks over a 1920s mandolin in need of his services.

Musician Bob Webb is renowned in Wallowa County and beyond for his work giving music lessons or as music sideman for his partner, Heidi Muller. These days, Webb is hanging out his shingle for two other music-related occupations: audio recording and instrument repair.

Webb recently received his business license for Mountainview Recording, which is located on Hurricane Creek Road. Mountain View Recording provides music/video/spoken word recording.

Webb started recording as a child. His father was an audiophile who was fascinated with recording, particularly from the radio. Bob Webb learned the recording business through hands-on experience.

When Webb was a member of Stark Raven, a very popular east coast band, one of the band’s sponsors bought the group a 16-track reel-to-reel analog recording studio in West Virginia, which the band used to make demos and rehearse in. Webb peppered the sound engineer with questions, and learned a lot.

In 1999, with the help of a knowledgeable friend, Webb built a studio in his own home in Charleston, W.V.

“By the seat of my pants I started to really learn digital audio recording,” Webb said. “There was no one else in Charleston offering a digital recording studio, people started knocking on my door. I ended up recording close to 15 albums during that time.”

Webb moved to Wallowa County with his partner, Heidi Muller, in June of 2012. He’s added more gear and more sophisticated recording equipment. And he’s been recording their music as well as that of a few friends. Now, he’s ready to step out into the limelight and help others to do so.

“I’ve got a pretty good recording system going here,” Webb said. “I’m finally ready to hang out my shingle, so to speak and try to make a go at it.” Not only can he make digital recordings and CD’s but he can also transfer an old reel-to-reel tape into a digital CD. He mainly records digitally from the Reaper platform with a large number of add-ons, particularly from German company RME. He can record ten tracks simultaneously. And he is mobile, so he can set up and record music and audio just about anywhere. Webb is currently at work recording a duet album from local music stalwarts Gail Swart and Mark Eubanks.

One thing Webb wanted to make clear is that he does not judge musicians he’s trying to record.

“A recording engineer is like a good lawyer,” Webb said. “A good lawyer doesn’t care if you’re guilty or innocent — they just want to represent you in the best light possible.” For that reason, he does not judge musicians he records.

Then there’s the very analog side of Webb’s talents: Repairing traditional wooden instruments, especially guitars. Webb, who started taking cello lessons when barely out of toddler stage, is familiar with a variety of instruments, both as a player and repairman. As the typical musician perennially short on cash for instrument repair, Webb learned the trade from a luthier (guitar maker) kind enough to offer shop space.

“I could never afford to send my guitar off to somebody and pay them $300-$500 to fix whatever was wrong with it,” Webb said.

West Virginia resident Earlie Vermillion, who was an authorized Martin (arguably the most famous acoustic guitar manufacturer in the world) repairman, helped Webb out on occasion.

“He knew I was poor, and if I had to do something on one of my instruments, he would let me take up a corner in his shop and let me use his tools,” Webb said. “He didn’t charge me.”

Webb is still friends with Vermillion, and consults him about repair work on occasion. Repairman Gary Martin of Seattle, Wash., is also a friend who doles out advice to Webb.

Webb can perform a number of repairs that include installing acoustic pickups, refretting, and installing a zero fret.

Unlike a number of instrument repairmen, Webb doesn’t mind admitting if a repair is beyond his capabilities.

I do know my limitations,” Webb said. “If you need a crack fixed in your guitar, I’ll try it. If it’s over my head, I’ll send it to somebody else.”

Webb is currently open for business in both repair and recording, for which he charges $40 per hour each. To engage his services, his phone number is 541-432-0156. He also carries a Facebook page. He can also be reached by email: mtviewrecording@gmail.com.

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