I started playing the guitar as a kid after seeing my dad playing; himself starting to play when he was a teenager. Even in those early years, I remember being unsatisfied with the guitars I had available to me. So, I took them apart to hot rod them and make them the best instruments I could. Later on, I played in bands and when I needed gear, I built it. Tube amplifiers, microphones, you name it. Five years ago, my dad and I had a crazy idea to start our own shop where we would build high-quality custom guitars. We both enjoyed woodworking so it just seemed natural.
At the time, I was becoming very interested in CAD. (computer-aided design) I was constantly designing new body shapes and trying to come up with features that nobody had ever done before. My dad had recently retired from his career as an accountant and was looking to pursue something that felt more tangible than pushing paper around. So we set out to find a space to work out of. It took almost a year to find something suitable.
We had no idea how much work was ahead of us.
We knew early on that having the machinery to be efficient was key to the success of a custom guitar shop. Even building custom guitars, we knew that we needed a CNC machine to be competitive. One of the biggest challenges was finding a space that had enough power to run everything. Eventually, we settled on this 2600 square foot bay, with 200-amp three-phase power.
There was a lot to do. Before we could even start to move anything inside, we had to replace drywall and repaint all the walls. After that, we began the process of buying machines and moving them inside.
We installed a full automotive spray booth to paint inside. After all, a custom guitar needs to have flawless paint work! Finally, we needed dust collection for the entire shop. There’s a makeup air unit outside to supply air to the building when the paint booth or dust collection is running. The design of this whole system wasn’t something we could do ourselves. We had a local engineering firm make mechanical and electrical drawings. They made sure the installation met all the applicable electrical and fire codes.
Putting together our shop was a huge undertaking. I have to admit that in the beginning neither of us really knew how much work it would be or how long it would take. But now that it’s done, it’s extremely satisfying to be able to come to work and not only love what you do but also see the results of all the time we put into it.
Where are we today?
We never want to sit still or become complacent. We’re always trying to find ways to improve our products and our processes. Because of this, I consider our shop a constant ‘work in progress’ as things are always evolving. Still, I’m proud to show it to the world as an example of what can be achieved through passion and hard work.
Today, we’ve brought some products to market that I feel are quite awesome. But the truth is, we’re just getting started. We have a whole journey ahead of us building one-of-a-kind instruments and I’m looking forward to sharing it.