Damon Mailand— Master Luthier and Production Manager
When Damon Mailand was recommended as Benedetto’s first Savannah hire in 2006, the endorsement was so strong that we couldn’t help but question its sincerity.
Damon Mailand— Master Luthier and Production Manager
What we found (when Damon drove across the United States for a face-to-face interview) was in Bob’s opinion, perhaps the next generation’s greatest guitar maker. Benedetto hired Damon immediately, and he held nearly every position in the shop while being trained as Bob’s apprentice. Damon worked extensively alongside Bob, eventually taking over his workbench and inheriting his personal chisels. Today Damon carries on the greatest traditions established by Benedetto, and has personally made instruments for both Bob Benedetto and CEO Howard Paul.
Born and raised in Harlem, Montana, Damon began working with his hands at an early age. His father, a gunsmith, instilled pride in creating and repairing, and impressed upon him the importance of precision. His love of lutherie was sparked during a tour of Gibson Guitars’ acoustic division while he was attending Montana State University, Bozeman.
Damon moved to Georgia in 2004 to attend a guitar-making and repair school, Luthiers International, where he later taught the shop course for about a year. During this time, Damon discovered the exceptional craftsmanship of Bob Benedetto, and would spend hours supplementing his education with Bob’s instructional videos.
Damon grew up surrounded by music. His father played guitar and started teaching him chords at about four years old. Many other relatives and family friends contributed to the soundtrack of his childhood and supported his musical pursuits. By middle school he was sitting in with local bands, and started playing gigs in Savannah soon after he hit town. To catch him live, just follow his band Damon and the Shitkickers on Facebook or Instagram.
Lawrence “Larry” Perkins Master Finisher
Lawrence “Larry” Perkins has worked as Benedetto’s Master Finisher since 2011, where he supervises all aspects of the Finishing Department. Born in Paw Paw, Michigan. Larry has studied music for most his life, beginning as a trombonist, and performing his first club gig at the age of 13. While studying music composition and arrangement at Western Michigan University, Larry began doing small repairs and guitar setup for friends. He was hired in 1996 by Heritage Guitars where he quickly moved into the finishing department due to his passion for the instrument and his attention to detail. A year later, he was supervising the department. During his ten years at Heritage, Larry did finish work on 7,804 instruments, including for Kenny Burrell, Roy Clark, Steve Howe, Gary Pucket, John Sebatian, Niki Fox, Charlie Daniels, Frankie Ballard, and Alvin Lee.
Larry has been a club musician throughout his 41-year career, performing in the Chicago-Detroit corridor, resort towns along Lake Michigan, and even a six-month stint at a blues club in Singapore. His acts over the years have opened for such blues luminaries as: Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang, Chris Duarte, The Kinsey Report, Rare Earth, The Guess Who, Shannon Kurfman, Hubert Sumlin, and Gatemouth Brown. He’s Benedetto’s “Resident Blues Guy,” but we let him work here anyway!
His impressive repertoire of instruments include all brass, stand-up bass, electric bass, C-plectrum banjo, and of course, guitar.
Colin Samek Whitewood Department Supervisor/CNC Operator
Signing on in May of 2015, Luthier Colin Samek, comes to us from Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to joining our team in Savannah, Georgia, Colin studied for two years at Southeast Tech in Red Wing, Minnesota with David Vincent, Steve Rossow and Brian Boedigheimer. Before his formal education, he began working on guitars as a hobbyist under the guidance of his good friend, Jordan Wagner. Colin’s initial inspirations to build instruments were Hans Reichel and Yuri Landmann before he turned his focus to guitarmaking, specifically.
At Benedetto, Colin is responsible for CNC operation and other rough milling, as well as buffing the finished guitars. Over the years, he has played and toured with multiple bands and projects, most notably SSP, Big Box, and Gilt Gambrel.
Colin lives in Savannah with his wife Paige and their dog, Cotton Candy.
Taylor Powell Senior Craftsman, Whitewood Neck Department
In January 2017, Taylor Powell came to us from his home in Western Michigan, joining our whitewood neck department.
A longtime musician, Taylor began his professional journey into the musical world in 2010. He studied education at Muskegon Community College while performing as a percussionist in the Wind Ensemble. He also performed during that time with a worship band for a Christian Organization at Grand Valley State University, and tutored beginner students in fundamental guitar skills.
From 2013-2015, Taylor worked with Meyer Music assisting the Instrument Repair Technician. His training included instrument upkeep, cleaning processes, and supplier/inventory management. In 2014, Taylor received his Journeyman Program Certification from Galloup School of Guitar Building and Repair. Throughout his training, he consistently received above-average scores as he learned the ins and outs of construction techniques for electric and acoustic guitars.
Since moving to Savannah, Taylor enjoys playing downtown at Compassion Christian Church at the historic Savannah Theater. He also puts his fine motorskills to work painting miniatures for a social tabletop game he plays locally.
Steve Holzknecht Senior Craftsman, Whitewood Department
Steve Holzknecht first joined the Benedetto team in 2013. Over the next three years he applied his skills to carving top and back arches and setting necks, as well as every aspect of neck construction. He returned in 2018 to work in the Finish Department, apprenticing under Master Finisher Larry Perkins.
Hailing from Sebastian, Florida, Steve first developed an interest in luthiery at the age of 15 while restoring a 1984 Kramer Baretta with his older brother in his father’s garage. Still in his collection, that guitar and others salvaged from eBay fostered a growing interest in becoming a better player and craftsman. Steve graduated from Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in the fall of 2011. Like many of our luthiers, Steve plays guitar and makes his own instruments on the side.
Returning to Savannah with his girlfriend and their two dogs, Steve credits his family’s steadfast support for the opportunity to pursue a career he truly loves.
Dylan Kennedy Final Assembly
Dylan Kennedy joined Bennedetto in the Final Assembly department in 2020, where he is responsible for assembly and setup of every new Benedetto guitar. Hailing from a musical family in Nashville, Tennessee, Dylan grew up around guitars, building his first electric when he was 15 before moving on to graduate from the Master’s Program at Galloup School of Lutherie.
With big support from both families, Dylan relocated to Savannah with his wife, Alexis, and dog, Oliver. They often play music together, Dylan on the Mandolin and Alexis a singer, the perfect extension combining Dylan’s love for building instruments and performing musically.
Jonathan Prudhomme Whitewood Body Department
Bio coming soon.
John Garcia Buffing Department
Bio coming soon.
Jackson Evans Customer Relations & Sales Manager
Jackson Evans joined the Benedetto team as Customer Relations and Sales Manager in the spring of 2017. Originally hailing from the mountains of Utah, he relocated to Savannah in 2004 where he established himself as a reputable jazz guitarist. His experience in music education, performing professionally, and a strong interest in the technical details of the instrument give him a deep perspective and ability to expertly guide customers in the pursuit of their perfect Benedetto.
When Jackson isn’t playing or talking about guitars, he is an avid bicycle racer, and enjoys spending time with his dog Carter, and wife Maggie, a bassist and singer you may recognize from some of our demo videos.
Stephanie Ward Office Administrator
Stephanie joined us in 2011, learning all the behind-the-scenes Benedetto secrets right from the source with Cindy Benedetto as a mentor. Her charming demeanor and organized approach have made her a hit with customers and vendors alike and rendered her an infamous character to jazz guitarists around the world.
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia with a proud Scottish-Irish heritage, Stephanie came to us with a wealth of corporate experience from her time as the Executive Secretary of the Vice President of Human Resources at Great Dane Trailers. Combined with her musical experience as singer for the regionally notable Southern Rock band Bounty Hunter (with guitarist/singer/husband, Dennis) she is a perfect match to manage the business end of a unique company like ours.
Away from her desk, Stephanie enjoys singing and crafting with a specialty in decorating the readily available seashells from nearby Tybee Island. She shares her home with her husband Dennis, son Stefan, and three dogs, Red Dog, Gracie & Marlee.