Music and guitars have been a central theme of James Russell's life since he was eleven years old. It might have been even earlier, had his parents given in to his begging from the time he was five for a guitar and guitar lessons. At last they realized this kid was serious and helped him get a guitar and a guitar teacher. When he began guitar lessons at eleven, he immediately learned to sight read and went through the entire series of Mel Bay Guitar Method books and began arranging chord solos from piano sheet music. Sadly, his guitar teacher left town, and James could not find a teacher to replace this gifted mentor. He continued his music and guitar study on his own by listening to a wide range of favorite guitarists, from Jimi Hendrix to Wes Montgomery.

James always liked to make things. He began making models with intricate detailing when he was five years old. He made his first guitar in 1979 when he was twenty-three, while living in Orange County, California. He still plays this 16" jumbo style guitar with Indian Rosewood sides and back and Sitka Spruce top. It kicks butt! One of the things he learned in making this guitar was that he was hooked. He knew he wanted to design and build guitars. Years later he was able to leave his paycheck behind and dive in full-time and wholeheartedly into this art and right livelihood.

James and his wife, Layne, moved from Santa Rosa, California, to Redding in 2000. He enjoys working in his one-man shop in an older, quiet part of town near the Sacramento River. James has exhibited Russell Guitars in the Healdsburg Guitar Festival held in Santa Rosa, California, in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Amazingly, midst designing and building his guitars full-time, James still squeezes in time to teach guitar to twenty students a week and also to perform solo guitar in the Redding and Mount Shasta area.