Wayne Henderson is one of a kind. He has won about every award a person can win for his unique finger-picking guitar style and is a world-class guitar builder and player. He lives today in the same little mountain community where he was born in Grayson County, Virginia. He developed his own unique style of using a thumbpick and fingerpicks, which makes his playing sound like flatpicking but with faster, cleaner notes.
Henderson carries on a long tradition of music in his family. As a youngster, Wayne was inspired by Estil Ball, who played with his family. Wayne wanted to learn to play, so he ordered a cheap guitar from the Sears catalogue. When the instrument didn't perform to his expectations, he sought out the advice of a neighbor and renowned luthier Albert Hash. With Hash's guidance, Wayne used his pocket knife and built his first guitar. He sold his second guitar, a little reluctantly and he said “Ever since then, somebody’s wanted one as soon as I get it finished.”
For years, Wayne worked as a rural mail carrier, spending his off-time performing and building guitars and other instruments. He has become so famous that he has a long backlog of orders placed for guitars. Henderson has built guitars for Doc Watson, Gillian Welch, Peter Rowan, and Eric Clapton.
Wayne Henderson has trained several apprentices, taught intensive workshops, and given informal discussions about instrument building and repair. Wayne has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, on A Prairie Home Companion, and even for the 1992 presidential inauguration. He has hosted the annual Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition since 1995. Winning the competition is said to be the only way to skip ahead of the waiting list for a Henderson Guitar.