Mike Batson, my dad, can build anything. Growing up, my mom would often holler at my little brother and I and tell us to “go out and help” our dad. We weren’t usually much help. So, from a very young age, I began learning to build and fix things. At the age of 15, I built my first electric guitar in high school shop class. It wasn’t a very good guitar, but I didn’t need a bird feeder.
After college, I decided to flush my expensive education down the toilet, and I got a job in a small custom cabinet/furniture shop. Shortly thereafter, my brother, Cory, moved up from Texas and got a job at the same shop. During that time, he began nurturing an intense passion to build acoustic guitars. We were allowed to use exotic scrap woods of all sorts for our own personal projects. We would squirrel away sometimes the oddest of materials, as we were poor as dirt. I would often stay after work with Cory and offer my assistance in his Frankenstein-like, yet methodical pursuit of luthierie. More than a decade later, our passions for art, music and woodwork had culminated in the creation of, what is now, Batson Guitar Co. Cory continues to go strong. To see his instruments, go to batsonguitars.com.
In 2011, I needed a change of scenery, so I turned the guitar business over to Cory and immediately immersed myself in the work pipe-making. I had smoked a pipe from the age of 19, but it had never occurred to me that making a pipe was something I could (or should) do. For years, my good friend, Keith Moore, and I would sit and play music and he would tell me, “Grant, you should make pipes”. I would retort, “Keith, I don’t know how to drill a curved hole.” We would laugh and that would be the end of it. Two years later, Todd Johnson generously offered me the opportunity to train under him. I took him up on that for 7 months. During that time, I met Teddy Knudsen, who invited me to work with him in his shop in Italy. I’m not a good enough writer to tell you how wonderful that was. Since then, I’ve worked alongside some of the world’s finest pipe makers, many of whom have become close friends. Today, I’m humbled and grateful to have judicious pipe enthusiasts, around the world, as clients.