You can hear the care we take!TM
English studio musician John Pearse first began researching into music string manufacture in the mid-sixties. The first person, ever, to teach guitar on television with HOLD DOWN A CHORD in 1962- his BBC lessons have been seen in six countries while his PBS series, STRING ALONG, was shown in most US television markets encouraging grandparents to learn the guitar with their grandchildren!
He is the author of some forty books on such diverse subjects as instrument building and technique- to cooking and the traditional art of fly fishing! He was a record producer. He started his own publishing company. He was, as he would put it, someone with a very low boredome threshhold.
In 1965 John began his collaboration with British Music Strings, a London string maker, to develop a guitar string with both a longer life and a more accurate vibrating and nodal pattern. His designs were so successful that, over the years, both British Music Strings and Thomastik marketed strings under his name. John also designed string lines for Bourne Guitars and Jay Associates, makers of the Jester guitar line.
In 1978 he came to the United States to develop a unique line of accessories for the C.F. Martin Company. It was here that he again met dulcimist Mary Faith Rhoads.
Mary Faith was a prodigy…who hated to read music. So the early piano and violin lessons didn’t last very long. In 11th grade, a friend helped her start on the guitar and she started playing publically in 1963, shortly after graduation.
During college, having abandoned the idea of following her parents’ medical footsteps, her interest grew to include unusual instruments such as autoharp, 5 string banjo and Appalachian Dulcimer as well as guitar. She wove her path between Old and her own New Songs.
Her first trip to Europe was at 20, and convinced her that it would be possible to make a living being a musician there! When she returned in 1970, she connected with Paris and played in the first American Style Festival at Lambesc in August of that year. After that, she was in great demand there.
She first met John as she was getting off a stage in Paris as John was coming to the stage in 1971. Continuing to travel back and forth between Pennsylvania and France, she started playing the joy of her life, the hammered dulcimer in 1975, as part of a dance band revival for the occasion of the United States Bicentennial. Travelling with back pack, hammer dulicmer, mountain dulcimer and guitar through Europe also got the notice of the American Embasy in Paris and she did three tours for the State Department, travelling through most of Africa, Saudi Arabia, Madagascar and Greece. On the last tour, she was accompanied by John Pearse and Joe Dobbs.
After eighteen months, in 1980, John decided to leave Martin, and, with Mary Faith, started Breezy Ridge Instruments to produce the Breezy Ridge Hammer Dulcimer. His revolutionary design has continued to prove itself to be the best sounding Hammer Dulcimer ever made.[Check it out later…on the Instrument Page.]
Next came a line of music strings designed especially for the professional musician. Within months, word of these exciting strings had spread across the country and pressure from both the public and beleaguered dealers had persuaded John and Mary Faith to make their line available to stores and things have just kept growing since then!. In addition to expanding the string line over the years, Breezy Ridge has also brought out many of John’s unique accessories and produced his popular PBS TV series “Stringalong” and “Cooking with Wine” which have garnered rave reviews everywhere! In addition to all the new accessories available through Breezy Ridge®, he has also worked with Rick Shubb to produce the line of Shubb Pearse Bars for lap-steel and resophonic guitars. Most recently, John has just published a new book of his stories called “Carousel.”
Over the years, John and Mary Faith were married and divorced, John married Linda and Mary Faith married Spafford …and through it all, Breezy Ridge®, which became a proper “corporation” in 1990, has continued to grow stronger! Who would have thought that two old hippies could accomplish so much!
John passed away in October 2008 in Gernany, not having been back to the States for several years.
Spafford passed in January of 2013.
Mary Faith has always been in charge of the business end of Breezy Ridge®, and continues in that capacity! Now with the tasks of digitizing audio and video tapes, and getting books back into print, there is even more to do as Breezy Ridge® celebrates 35 years and the 50th Anniversary of John’s first set of strings. [See his dashing figure from the set reproduced on the NAMM banner!!]