Though David had been making instruments for several years, he’d never built a guitar.  After some frustration with a dreadnought which aggravated an old shoulder injury, and an encounter with a beautiful vintage OO, he was more than ready to learn.

A background in printmaking, a love for working with wood, and a cadre of helpful and knowledgeable friends helped get David’s guitar making started.

Several years ago, a fellow musician, who also happens to be a professional tonewood cutter, arrived for a jam session with a pile of wood, and said, “Why don’t you try making a guitar out of this?” The conversations that followed have become a detailed education on the properties, both physical and visual, of tonewoods and other materials.

Friends and fellow musicians have allowed their guitars to be measured and photographed, talked about their preferences as players, test-played finished guitars, and provided support, encouragement and honest feedback. Cavins Guitars have been played by some of the best.


Today Cavins Guitars are handbuilt in a small bungalow in the cosmopolitan cow-town of Columbia, Missouri.

The shop is crowded with tools, jigs, and of course lovely woods, many of them milled right here in central Missouri. Each guitar is handcrafted by David with precision and a love for both the process and the results.

Also on staff is a Shop Dog, who supervises operations daily and has developed some world-class skills of her own, included Napping-Under-Saws and Napping-Near-Dust-Collectors.

Although it doesn’t seem that glamorous at first glance, sanding a whining, resonant box looks pretty good compared to some of the stuff that has to happen to make a business run. The less glamorous stuff is often done by the third member of the Cavins Guitars team, Amber Gaddy. A banjo and buttonbox player herself, with a wild eye for fiddle tunes and a thing for filing, Amber thumps the boxes, keeps the books, and generally fills in the blanks at Cavins Guitars.

The original owner of the dreadnought (who is herself much too short to play it comfortably), she anxiously awaits her custom Cavins Tenor.