Since 1974 Tom has been building and repairing guitars and basses in the San Francisco bay area. He has built a reputation for creating instruments that perfectly suit his clients needs. Tom hopes to give a part of himself to every instrument he builds. And although he offers the option of rejection upon completion no one has ever done so!
Born in Brookyln, New York Tom attended NYU Syracuse University Newhouse School of Communications and earned a BFA in Music and a BA in communications. He relocated to San Francisco in the early 70's and opened his first lutherie shop in the Mission district. After ten years, and thousands of repairs and custom builds for clients, he closed the storefront in order to concentrate on Commission building.
Tom served 10 years with the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA) and as President of the board of directors. His instruments have been featured in the Scott Chinery Blue Guitar Collection for the Smithsonian and in the Boston Museum.
In 2003, with the help of renowned bass player (and good friend) Bobby Vega, Tom created the Halfling™ design. The design is a unique blend of the Steel String/Classical guitar and the Archtop guitar that offers versatility, enhanced bass response and more feedback suppression. For the contemporary guitarist whose literature crosses over into both worlds the Halfling™ is a perfect fit.
With the creation of the first Halfling™ design an opportunity emerged to create a new company, Ribbecke Guitar Co. (RGC), based on this design. This new company was founded to build high quality, made-in-the-USA guitars and basses. Tom still maintains his private practice (separate from RGC).
After over three decades of guitar building Tom is closing his private practice's regular commission list and will no longer accept standard commission work. He is only accepting orders for his "Masterpiece Series". Each instrument will be unique and differentiated by label, material and thematic detail. They will be individual and uncompromised. Pricing will begin at $25,000.00 and will require a $10,000.00 deposit at the time of reservation.
"I want to thank each and every client for their support and belief over many great years! I am doing this because I want these last instruments to be the culmination of all my experience and artistic ambition. I want to finish building these instruments with a little time left to spend with my family. These are the last guitars I will ever build and these will be my finest."
- Tom Ribbecke