Adrian is a product of his environment. Growing up in Rochester, NY with his father, a musician and music educator, and his mother an artist many times over. His two younger brothers are also both gifted musicians. Music and musical instruments have surrounded Adrian from the day he was born.
His professional work experience has taken him all over the world, working at several musical instrument companies (Elderly Instruments, Saga Musical Instruments, Voyage-Air Guitar) and he maintains a plethora of projects inside the musical instrument world to this day. His first love is the F5 mandolin, an obsession he's had since first seeing a mandolin being played at the local Lilac Festival in Rochester, NY in the early '80s. In Michigan Adrian now spends much of his time sourcing the materials that will become Northfield mandolins and designing and developing new instruments.
Adrian has had the great opportunity to develop instruments for several famous brands over the years and all of that exposure helped him hone in on what really makes this craft special. Working with performing artists has taught him a lot about the needs for musicians too. The Northfield Workshop was born out of a need to work more closely with our small team and all of the encouraging people that we had met along to way.
Acoustic Designer, Founder
From an early age Kosuke was drawn to the guitar and other stringed instruments. His brother was playing all the time as a semi-pro in Japan and Kosuke was constantly exposed to live music and instruments. After a brief stint at the local university he went to work for Toyota. Still, his heart was in music and the more he saw his brother the more he wanted to surround himself with music and instruments.
After some dabbling with repair and set-up he enrolled at the Chubu Technical Academy of Musical Instruments, in Nagoya. For several years he learned the ins and outs of stringed instrument construction and set-up. After graduating he embarked on a journey to the emerging center of global guitar production, Mainland China. During the next 8 years he worked as Quality Control manager and production manager for a few very large companies making mandolins, banjos, and acoustic guitars. All the while he had been experimenting with different building techniques and designs for mandolin construction to be used in a small workshop. His time as a production engineer taught him the keys to quality management. His love for vintage instruments and mandolin playing offer a very unique perspective complimenting his exceptional eye for design and quality workmanship. He's traveled a lot in his young life, taking on the challenges of international business with composure and confidence. As a founder of our workshop, Kosuke has created something very unique and he hopes to finesse and refine our instruments for a long time to come.
Zhang Xi Sheng
Workshop Manager, Founder
Xi Sheng or “Dino,” as he’s known to his closest friends, grew up in the villages around our Qingdao workshop. His mother and father raised his family though some of the hardest times in China. Some of the hardships he's described about growing up in rural China has offered a perspective that shaped our approach to this business from the start. The location, the people, the culture of the city we work in—he understands more about those important details than any of us. His professional background ranges from mapmaking, to extensive experience with leather tanning and Italian shoe making, to musical instrument production/factory management at a very large scale. All of this professional experience has resulted in an amazing network of helpful friends throughout China. Friends that have been willing to help make Northfield what it is today. Dino's skill in sourcing materials (wood, pearl, steel, leather for cases..anything!) is so comprehensive that we are constantly benefitting from his resources. His love for quality instruments and knack for managing a small business has helped us grow from an idea to a reality.
Product Manager, Builder
Derek has played music and been interested in the instruments that project it for most of his life. A true appreciation for high quality acoustic instruments was fostered through 13 plus years of working at the world renowned string-shop, Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan. That is where Derek first met Adrian working as they worked side-by-side as well as ran Elderly's vendor booth together for the IBMA conference when it was still in Louisville.
Derek has worked in music and theater throughout his years specializing in the songs and life of Hank Williams. He has received training in therapeutic music and is always looking to grow and change as a musician. Derek also spend a good deal of time involved in the sport of dragonboating.
To him, painting the mandolin is just like painting a picture. "It has to be a unique experience and it has to say something to the viewer at the end, it's very challenging but you do it for the love of creating something new." Our expression of color and shading relies on Yin's keen sense of color graduation and technique. For years he had been experimenting with mixing different shellac flakes with earthy tints and blends of materials.
It's like a brew that he just kept changing and trying... until one day. About a year ago he went about an experiment with a specific mandolin, finishing and refinishing it. Scraping the top, alternating the color applications, and then doing it over. When it was done he showed it to us....his masterpiece unveiled. "Now it's about maintaining the recipe!" Dianghong's interest and skill with stringed instruments is no accident. His grandfather was the chief of a Beijing Opera Group in Jin Lin Province and was also a Jing Hu player. Several of his uncles play the Erhu and have been surrounding him with music for a very long time. The family jam sessions just got a dose of the western world...only his new instrument has got 8 strings to their two! Look out Yin family; the mandolin is going to get you, just like it's gotten all of us.
Sales & Marketing Manager
Pete has been a musician his whole life—with his brothers, his father, and now with his own children. He currently calls upstate New York his home after living in New York City for a decade working as a professional musician. Pete continues to do quit a bit of traveling as a performer and has acquired a need to be surrounded by fine stringed instruments as much as possible. Pete started working with his brother Adrian and the Northfield team back in early 2011.
Jiduo's obsession with wood started from an early age. His father was a specialty carpenter and worked on things like elaborate doors, and windows for homes. He also made cabinets and custom furniture. Working as his assistant, Jiduo learned how to use all the related hand tools, and then eventually learned how to use the machines. Over the years he worked in a variety of different factories and workshops building furniture and other wood products, until one day he visited a guitar factory. He was enamored with the function and production of the craft "That you could make something so useful and so artistic was amazing to me, I had to try." And try he did. For the last 10 years he has been honing his craft. The Northfield Workshop has given him the chance to shine and focus on what is really important to him. Zeroing in on detail work goes back to his days working together with his father. His training at the larger organizations has resulted in the expertise needed to set-up and maintain our shop's building methods and build with exceptional consistency. His handwork is a gift all of us appreciate more and more each day.
Product Specialist, Builder
Guitarmaker kjell Croce has been passionately involved with guitars for nearly 30 years. Starting out as a player fascinated by the guitar and the music it could make, this passion evolved into an eagerness to know how the guitar worked and a desire to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue this craft. For him this is not a second career. Guitars have always been his first love.
A true emersion success. Jacob was basically raised in a garage (you know what we mean). A fast learner and attentive son he got into repurposing stuff from around the house, rebuilding small engines, and doing a myriad of hands-on projects from an early age. Robotics in middle school. Banjo setup and instrument repair with his dad “Stretch” (a truly gifted multi-faceted repairman at Elderly Instruments for decades) and now Computer Science at Olivet College. When this wiz kid is onsite he’s busy doing everything from drawing and programming a CNC to renovating our new buildings...leaving time for his rebuild project on a ‘67 Jeep Jeepster Commando.