Paul Graybeal grew up in the Creston community in Ashe County where he was surrounded by traditional mountain music. Over the years he developed his instrument building and repairing skills and produced almost 100 guitars, 50 mandolins, a number of dulcimers, a banjo, and many miniature instruments. Paul played guitar since he was a young teenager and he played mandolin with the Dark Ridge Boys.
When Paul was growing up, Ashe County was a hotbed of mountain music. His father played fiddle and banjo, and Paul remembered music played at home and in the community. When he was fourteen, his parents gave him a Gene Autry Silvertone guitar. “Wildwood Flower” was the first song he learned.
Through his work as a carpenter, Paul became a very skilled woodworker. Repairing instruments for local musicians was a natural step for him. In 1964, he decided to disassemble a guitar to figure out exactly how it was built. He started making instruments, beginning with a guitar and mandolin. Using only hand tools, he built a flattop mandolin and guitar, but he had to set that aside in order to keep up with his other work.
Over the years, Paul worked on instruments as a hobby while he made his living in carpentry, sheet rock businesses, furniture factories, and automobile factories. When he retired from carpentry, he turned to building and repairing instruments full time. In 1968 he built guitar #8, in 1989 he was up to #18, and in 2005 he completed guitar #92.
Paul also gained a reputation for building intricate miniature instruments. The miniatures are about six inches long, and they are precise replicas of full-sized instruments, including the bracing on the inside. Some of the miniatures he made included a copy of Doc Watson‘s guitar, Ricky Skaggs’ mandolin, Emmylou Harris’ guitar, Bill Monroe’s mandolin, James Monroe’s guitar, and Rhonda Vincent’s mandolin. He made a miniature Martin guitar that is on display in the Martin guitar museum in Pennsylvania.
Paul Graybeal passed away on June 17, 2016 at the age of 80.