Suzanne Rine, right, gives a guitar lesson to Sharon Daghir while Dusty Rine works on a damaged guitar in the background. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Suzanne Rine, right, gives a guitar lesson to Sharon Daghir while Dusty Rine works on a damaged guitar in the background. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
If it's an instrument with strings, chances are Suzanne Rine can teach you to play it or Dusty Rine can repair it if it's broken.

The couple operate Dusty Fiddles, a shop on Madison's hilltop in the back of One of a Kind, at 337 Clifty Drive.

Dusty handles the repairs and restorations, while Suzanne offers lessons in guitar, dulcimer, mandolin and flute.

The Rines have been married 42 years. They are originally from North Vernon, although they lived in South Carolina and North Carolina before moving to Madison. Dusty retired after 30 years at Cummins where he was a designer and manufacturer of power generation equipment. Suzanne worked as a music teacher.

"My thing is I love taking your grandpa's fiddle that hasn't been played for 80 years and making it play again," Dusty said. "And that's happened."

Dusty said he and his wife have instruments in most rooms of their home. The couple owns a fiddle that Dusty estimated is pre-Civil War.

"I just get such a charge out of picking up an old instrument," he said.

Dusty said he began fixing instruments after his wife purchased a guitar at a flea market. A glaring defect was a hole in the body of the instrument, but Dusty found a way to bring the instrument back to life.

"I thought I could figure it out," he said. I've always been able to fix things."

Now, Dusty has a host of instruments in need of repairs at his shop, including fiddles, guitars, mandolins and banjos. In many cases, the years have not been so kind.

In fact, a few of his projects are quite the challenge. He has a few dated mandolins and a 1940s Gibson semi-hollow body electric guitar that has extensive damage to the body.

Since opening the location last year, he has helped restore family heirlooms and flea market gems. To him, it doesn't matter which one comes through the door.

"They all deserve the same treatment, as far as I'm concerned," he said.

For now, Dusty deals only in repairs, but he does want to build a dulcimer, he said.

In addition to the lessons and repairs, the Rines host community music sessions from 7 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday at the shop. The event draws a variety of players, styles and abilities. Some players are older and more experienced; others young and just learning.

"The oldest we have is 84, and the youngest is 6," Dusty said.

They also have a Celtic band called West of Dublin. Years ago, Suzanne taught Dusty how to play guitar and fiddle, though he still will not label himself a serious player.

He said a community jam session serves as a great venue for musicians to sharpen their skills. The group focuses on Celtic, mountain music or bluegrass, all of which have similarities and are rooted in guitar, fiddle, flute, dulcimer and mandolin.

Dusty said he enjoys the sessions because it promotes a tight-knit bond between the players.

"That's the thing about music, there's a community within all the genres," he said.