Matthew John Bascetta
Class of 2000
What have you done since you graduated?: "I moved to England within a year after I graduated. I studied violin making and guitar making at the Leeds College of Music in England. I started my business in 2004 right after I graduated.
I got the bug for making guitars and violins when I worked at a few local shops in Torrington and Winsted. One of the stores had a restoration and repair workshop and it was something I took to right away. Like a lot of other people, I was thinking about going down the road of trying to be a rock star.
Once I started repairing and restoring instruments it just turned out it was something that I wanted to do. I ended up working for Folkcraft Instruments based in Winsted. Folkcraft left Winsted because after the owner retired, he sold the brand and it moved out of town. But before he retired it had been in Winsted since the 1970s. 
Originally, I thought it was a folk instrument retail shop. But I went in there and asked if they had any room to repair guitars. The employees took me to the back of their building and it turns out six people were working and making all kinds of string instruments.
The first company I started was Bascetta String Instruments, which was repairing, restoring, and manufacturing instruments. Recently I started House of Tone guitar pickups. What we do is manufacture the actual electromagnetic pickups that you see in electric guitars and electric bass guitars. The pickups convert the string's vibration into an electrical signal, which travels to an amplifier and produces the sound. We make custom hand-wound pickups and we sell them all over the world."
What do you remember from your time at Gilbert?: "Mr. Atkins in the music department. He taught me a lot about music theory. Up until that point, just like a lot of kids, I was just playing in bands without any sort of formal training. Not that everyone necessarily needs training. I am into natural talent, which is great, but a little bit of theory and discipline opened up a lot of doors for me.
Mr. Atkins knows his stuff and I'll never forget him. He taught me a lot about the discipline of playing music, including how it all works. It's one thing to say that you love one artist or another and that they don't do theory or read music. He said 'Well, that's all well and good. But you really shouldn't go out breaking all the rules until you know all the rules. It's fine to break all the rules but know them first.'
Also, I have a lot of great memories of former English teacher Scott Macomber. I just got along with him well. I always enjoyed his classes and he got me into some great authors and good literature. He was great talking to us and was a great guy."
What lessons from Gilbert have you applied to the real world?: "Like with Mr. Atkins, I learned about discipline. The idea of not going around doing things differently and breaking all the rules until you know all of the rules. Even though he was initially talking about music composition and performance, it goes for a lot of things.
Learn the hard way and figure things out! Then from there you can go your own way and develop things. Sometimes it's good to have that foundation. I took that away from my time in Music Theory class with him."
What advice would you give to current students?: "A big thing I would say is don't take 'no' for an answer. Any time you think that 'well, that won't work for me' or 'that's not going to happen to me' or even 'that only happens to other people,' that's not true. If you want something bad enough, you'll get it. If you work hard enough and focus, just keep going for it. It doesn't matter. It's just that your desire and how bad you want something will come out in how hard you try. Don't think that you can't. It's not about can't. It's about how much effort you want to put into it.
It's been an interesting road for me, leaving the country and setting out on my own to go into business for myself. But what it all comes down to is don't let anything stand in your way. I knew from a fairly young age, I knew what I wanted to do by the time I was 15 or 16. I knew I wanted to check England out because I have always had a love for British music and culture. I always wanted to come to England and study over here. A lot of people have said that it's pretty big what you have done, growing up in a small town in America and leaving for another country to set up shop. But again, it comes back to the advice that I'll give kids. There's no reason to think you can't do it. No one else is any more special than anyone else. It's not a case of 'I'll never do this.' It's a mindset. I've been very fortunate that I have had a lot of support both in school and in the family. A lot of people were supportive in general with a lot of ideas, while I was setting out and making my path. Even without that, at the end of the day, it comes down to yourself and just what you want to do. You have to stick to it.”