Wayne C. Henderson

A world renowned guitar instrumentalist and luthier.

Please visit Wayne’s Official site to learn more about Wayne, his performances, and of course, the WONDERFUL Henderson Festival (always the 3rd Saturday in June)!

Our School is named for Wayne C. Henderson, a world renowned guitar instrumentalist and luthier from nearby Rugby, Virginia who has become an international ambassador for the music, heritage and culture of our region of the Southern Appalachians.

Wayne Henderson was born in Grayson County, Virginia, where he lives today. He is a full-time instrument builder and musician, specializing in building guitars, and playing in a unique finger-picking style. Though he has lived in Virginia all of his life, Henderson has played countless performances throughout the United States and Europe.

Henderson’s father and uncle were musicians who played with Estil Ball, an admired finger-style guitar player from the area who influenced Wayne’s playing. Inspired by Ball, Wayne ordered a cheap guitar from the Sears catalogue. Disappointed with that instrument, he decided to build his own guitar, out of a used dresser drawer bottom. When he struggled to find the proper glue for his newly crafted instrument, he sought out the advice of a neighbor, Albert Hash, who built fiddles and other instruments. With Hash’s encouragement, Wayne continued working on his instrument building.

He sold his second guitar in exchange for some tools and cash. “Ever since,” he says, “somebody’s wanted one as soon as I get it finished.” For years he worked as a rural mail carrier, spending his off-time performing and building guitars and other instruments. He has become so famous that he has a long backlog of orders placed for guitars. Henderson has built guitars for Doc Watson, Gillian Welch, Peter Rowan, and Eric Clapton.

Wayne Henderson has trained several apprentices, many of them are now instructors in our Gerald Anderson Lutherie, (named for one of Wayne’s earliest apprentices and his friend for over 40 years; Gerald Anderson).

Spencer Strickland, Josh Reese and Marty Howard organize our guitar building workshops. Wayne is there as his schedule allows, he tries to be there everyday, and we are respectful of his time.

Marty Howard, Gerald Anderson, Wayne, Catherine Schrenker, Josh Reese, Spencer Strickland, Lee Talbot

The wait list to get into a guitar building workshop averages around 50 people, with an average 2 year wait. Many people wonder why it is not advertised or why there is not more information about the workshops, according to Catherine Schrenker, executive director of The Henderson, “Wayne isn’t the only one with “a list”. When you have a wait list as long as ours WITHOUT advertising, imagine the length if we started to market the event?” Now that the class has expanded to two workshops per year and the addition of a seventh participant, there is hope that if you are on the list your wait is not as daunting.

Henderson is also an accomplished performer. He has won more than 300 ribbons at fiddlers’ convention competitions. He was featured as part of the Masters of the Steel Guitar tours, and has traveled internationally. Wayne has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, on A Prairie Home Companion, and for the 1992 presidential inauguration.

He has hosted the annual Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition since 1995. Winning this competition is said to be the only way to skip ahead of the waiting list for a Henderson Guitar.