By Paul Espinosa and Shay Maunz | 1/31/2011

Bob Smakula has been making and repairing old-time instruments for more than 35 years. His first was a dulcimer he made from a kit when he was 14. Smakula has never known any other type of work.

Smakula’s parents found the old-time musical tradition later in life, but adopted it wholeheartedly and passed it on to their children. The family formed a band when Smakula was a child. Over the years he learned to play the fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and dulcimer.

Smakula repairs instruments in a small shop built adjacent to his home in Beverly, W.Va. with his assistant, Andy Fitzgibbons. Fitzbiggons has worked with Smakula for 11 years, since Smakula recognized his talent during an instrument-repair class he was instructing with the Augusta program at Davis & Elkins College. Now, the two consider themselves a pair. When repairing brokent instruments, they try to honor the original workmanship that went into the instruments when they were made.

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