Meet the EVS staff
Chris GuinCustomer Service Representative, Product Photographer, Tech Officer, Fiddle Fashionista
A native of Fayetteville, NC, Chris Guin took up the violin when he was nine years old, because it got him out of math class. Throughout his school years, he played in local and regional youth orchestras, as well as the community symphony orchestra. At 14, he took up guitar, because he wanted to play in a rock band. If Electric Violin Shop had existed back then, this unfortunate necessity would never have occurred. With a decent amp and an effects processor, he could've played all the Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, and Yngwie Malmsteen tunes he wasn't quite good enough to play on the guitar.
Chris worked construction, sold cars, telemarketed (so much for that whole immortal soul thing), worked for an inventory company, wrote resumes, and even co-authored a novel. (You'd probably think someone who wrote an entire novel would have no trouble with a little web bio -- you'd be wrong). After serving way too much time as a mall-zombie and general retail drone, much of it spent as an Evil Corporate Bookseller, he finally found his way to Electric Violin Shop. He has since become a brand evangelist for the store, and for the electric violin in general. As the Fiddle Fashionista for EVS, he sometimes helps customers find not only the instrument with the right tone, but the electric violin and bow to perfectly match, contrast, or compliment the player's wardrobe. His math skills have never fully recovered, but he is still playing the violin.
Susie SneeringerStore Manager, Customer Service Representative
Susie grew up in Raleigh, NC playing classical and fiddle music. After a number of years in graduate school in Geography and various retail jobs she realized that she has always been pursuing her musical passions in one way or another. She plays acoustic and electric violin in a number of bands and musical styles, from old time and bluegrass to blues and rock.
She's been a member of Rootzie, the Slim Pickers, and the Marla Vickers Band. Currently she plays with Penny Prophets, a rock band out of Chapel Hill, and the JayBirds, a Durham-based duo. Along with violin, she plays electric bass, keyboard and sings. Besides music, Susie enjoys horror movies, cooking, hiking and good swimming holes.
Jamie SneeringerLuthier, Customer Service & Support Representative
Born in New Orleans and raised in Highfalls, North Carolina, Jamie had an early initiation into music and music history through his father Phillip Sneeringer. His father is an accomplished drummer and always held a deep interest in music history (especially the late 40's through the early 70's). Jamie's mother, Marilyn Jane Purvis (Jane), was an artist and poet. Through their influence, a backdrop and appreciation for the arts was ever-present in his life. Jamie began playing guitar at 17 with his father and was in several bands throughout the years. This includes the current musical duo "The Jaybirds", which includes his wife and EVS co-worker Susie Sneeringer.
Through the years Jamie held many job titles from painter, cook, landscaper, and heating and air technician -- he has an HVAC associate's degree. Although these positions held either the creative outlet or technical one he was searching for, none fulfilled the right balance until he began work as a luthier at The Electric Violin Shop. He has taken up the path of learning to play the violin and has fallen in love with the instrument.
Jamie lives in Durham with his wife Susie, their two children William and Luke, and their dog Sadie.
Matt BellContent Creator, Customer Service & Support Representative, Viper evangelist, resident touring professional
Matt Bell started playing violin at the age of 3 in Battle Creek, Michigan. He studied classical violin at Michigan State, Notre Dame, and the University of Toledo, as well as summer camps at Blue Lake. He picked up the trumpet in 6th grade in order to join the school band (his school didn’t have an orchestra) and shortly thereafter discovered rock music. He was primarily a trumpet player through high school and college, and joined a rock band as a trumpet player after moving to Beaumont, Texas after college. One fateful day, the guys in the band asked if Matt knew any fiddle players, as they were thinking about trying to hire one. Hoping to keep his job, he bought his first Barcus-Berry pickup, threw it on a pawn shop violin, and re-learned how to play the violin. A year or so later, he bought his first Mark Wood Viper and started experimenting with effects and different styles of playing. He played well over 1000 shows with his Texas-based band on violin, trumpet, keys, mandolin, and guitar all over the southern US and into Mexico.
In 2008, he and his wife moved to Greenville, NC and soon became a customer at the Electric Violin Shop. He now lives in Morrisville, NC, and plays full-time with the Greenville-based band Spare Change, working at EVS part-time. In addition to playing and singing, Matt is also a studio engineer and a live sound engineer. When he’s not playing music, he’s spending time with his wife, two kids, and boxer puppy, and trying to come up with creative things to do to his hair.
Duncan MonserudMarketing Director, Content Creator
As a violinist Duncan has performed with symphony orchestras in Iowa, Washington, North Carolina and Houston, Texas. Classically trained on the violin and piano, for years his only outlet for non-classical styles came in teaching himself to play the guitar...that is until his discovery of the electric violin! Electrified strings have not only renewed his interest in violin playing, but also opened a new realm of possibilities to him as a composer. Duncan studied Music Composition as an undergraduate at the University of Northern Iowa and earned a Master's degree at the University of Idaho's Lionel Hampton School of Music where he also taught Music Theory. Duncan's compositions for strings include a Sonata for Violin and Piano and a String Quartet. Click to read "Duncan's Dream Rig" and see his favorite electric violin products.
Blaise Kielar (retired)Founder of the Feast
D. Blaise Kielar began his electric violin journey in the mid 1980's, when he sold Zeta violins through Hillmusic Fine Violins, in Chapel Hill, NC. He left that business to play and teach more in the mid 1990's. Over the years, he has taught many styles - classical, Irish, Old Time, jazz, gospel, country, Middle Eastern, free improv, etc.
When he started his world music instrument store, Music Explorium, in 1999, he considered stocking electric violins to be his fun indulgence. He added acoustic violins due to demand from his former violin shop customers. Through the wonders of the Internet, people began calling him for advice about choosing an electric violin. His combination of violin shop skills and comfort with electronics and improvising appealed to players from around the world. Blaise soon decided to focus his specialization in this area and Electric Violin Shop was born. For years leading up to his retirement Blaise has fostered a flat management structure, empowering his staff with a large say in running the business and delegating responsibility for sales management, procurement and marketing. In May of 2016 Blaise sold his ownership interest in the business to three long-time employees–Chris Guin, Duncan Monserud and Susie Sneeringer–who restructured EVS into a worker-owned cooperative.