Sylvan Wells' Bay State Guitars

Ormond Beach, FL, USA

I have been building musical instruments since 1977. I started making instruments because I could not find an acoustic guitar that sounded right in the recording studio. In the mid sixties I was a guitar player in the band "The NightCrawlers". The band was one of the first rock 'n roll bands from Florida to actively make records. 19 months later and when the rock and roll days were over, The NightCrawlers had three Billboard 100 hits and an album released on Kapp Records. The biggest hit, "The Little Black Egg" is an original guitar riff which I still hear new players playing forty five years later! There have been over 22 covers of this original song. FOR EXAMPLE, see this video. In 2001, the band authorized Ace Records in London, England to release a complete anthology of all of our recordings to be sold in Europe only. It quickly went through three pressings! As a result, and with our agreement, Ace now makes the CD available on and it continues to sell well. I am quite proud that the buyers continue to rate the CD with Amazon's highest 4/5 star rating! Additionally, and as of May, 2009, The NightCrawlers now have an album for sale on iTunes! It seems as if interest in the Band will never end! It was a period of my life that I am quite proud of. All of the band members, management, and recording staff are still great friends and are in contact with each other on a very frequent basis. Not many bands from that era can say that today! All my thanks to my surviving bandmates and brothers, Rob Rouse, Pete Thomason, and Chuck Conlon and the late Tommy Ruger (the best rock 'n roll drummer in the business!), and the late Mike Stone, our one and only manager, and lastly, Lee Hazen, the recording engineer that made it all possible!

On September 19, 2008, the world premier of the film "Cracking The Egg: The Untold Story of The NightCrawlers" was held at the 6th annual Daytona Beach Film Festival. I am prejudiced, but I thought the film was terrific as it captured the personality of the band perfectly. The film was voted by the viewers as the best of the 2008 Film Festival! Web reviewers agree! Off it goes to other festivals and, with luck, to your living room someday!


When I first decided to try to make a guitar there was literally no help and no supplies available. It was largely trial and error but, over time, the instruments got better and better. My work over the last 34 years has now evolved to the point that my guitars can achieve whatever tone the musician wants. My preference though, is building acoustic instruments that are specifically designed to sound great in a recording studio. Tonal balance of all notes is the primary objective in that environment. It took almost fifteen years of development but it has been achieved in the design I call "Mediterranean" (as a Bay state model this is called "Somerville")! At present, there are many of those instruments being used by session musicians all over the country! That makes me very proud. I have completed 411 guitars of all types, including acoustic, archtop and electric guitars, both hollow and solid body types. In 2005 I also began constructing tenor ukelekes. Look in "In The Shop" for pictorial essays of building instruments and in the "Gallery" for some photos of the completed instruments.

I have been an active member of the Guild of American Luthiers since 1977 and an active member of the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans since 1989. I served on the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans Board of Directors from 2000-2004 and served as Membership Chairman and Treasurer 2003-2004. I have been published in Guitarmaker (Nos. 17, 29, 41, 42, 45, 49, 81, 86, 87, 88 and 97), the official publication of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans. My article on String Spacing for Guitars was published by the Guild of American Luthiers way back in 1978. In addition, I have taught and participated as a panelist in discussions on various guitar subjects at Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans' Symposiums in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

From 1977 to 2003 my instrument building had been part-time in Florida. In July, 2003 my wife, Sally, and I moved to the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in rural Luray, Virginia and I began to build full time. By 2007 I had spent four wonderful years in the Shenandoah Valley making all types of fretted instruments. I had enjoyed the mountains and the people immensely, but it was time to move on! In order to be near our youngest daughter and her growing family Sally and I have now moved to the Boston area of Massachusetts. The move helped me to resuscitate the Bay State Guitar brand. In addition to launching the Bay State line of instruments, both vintage and modern, I will continue to build all types of custom instruments, write articles, and do more teaching. It is now the beginning of summer of 2014 and Sally and I have decided to move back to Daytona Beach, Florida. Shop space has been rented and renovated! Come see us in our new location!

The Wells Guitar Company creates, and continues to maintain, WELLSGUITARS.COM and BAYSTATEGUITAR.COM. originally went online in May, 2004. originally went online in March, 2008.