At the age of 11, Gene Baker’s love for guitar had already taken precedence over youth hockey. He started building guitars in junior high and by the age of 20, after attending GIT in California, had set up shop in his parents’ Detroit garage, doing repairs and building and selling “Mean Gene” guitars. At 24, Gene received a call from storied luthier Roger Giffin, the head of Gibson’s west coast custom shop, and after serving as Roger’s apprentice Gene operated the shop alongside Roger for nearly two years.
In 1993 Gene moved to the Fender Custom Shop in Corona, during what many consider one of that shop’s golden periods, and eventually became senior master builder. Gene’s mentors and colleagues at Fender were, and still are, among the leading craftsmen in the industry, including; George Amicay, Jay Black, Larry Brooks, Jason Davis, John English, Kenny Gin, Alan Hamel, Yasuhiko Iwanade, Mark Kendrick, Todd Krause, the great John Page, Alex Perez, Steve Stern, Fred Stuart, John Suhr and Art Esparza (Art now works with Gene as senior master builder at the PBG workshop). Some of Gene's biggest highlights at Fender include a series of Gene Baker pieces, the prototyping of the first contemporary carved Strats, and his close collaboration with Robben Ford and Jeff Rivera on three new models.
Gene eventually left Fender in order to apply his unique expertise to his own nameplate, Baker Guitars USA, producing 40 guitars per month with an emphasis on custom builds. In 2009, recognizing Gene’s rare expertise on both the design and production sides of the business, Premier Builders Guild founder Michael Bernstein asked Gene to serve as chief guitar master builder for the new boutique, Masterbuilt Instrument Company. At the PBG guitar workshop, Gene and his expert team build guitars designed by PBG master builders Dennis Fano and Saul Koll. He also designs and builds his own line of b3 guitars and, when not sweating the details of the latest b3, shreds with his Mean Gene Band.