I’m not a professional luthier by far, just an architect and designer with roots in carpentry and woodworking, but I really appreciate the vast world of instrument making.  There is something extremely humbling about taking God’s creation, a tree; its hidden beauty locked within its core, and joining it with man’s hands working at the highest level of craft to create art that becomes an instrument to make art.  In the past, I’ve taken a few broken or worn guitars of little to no value and restored them to their function and potential beauty.  In the end, the owners claim these instruments are priceless now and even heirlooms for the family.

I’ve always worked with my hands. Many years of my life was spent framing and finishing residential homes as a builder. As an architect, the buildings I design and draw usually takes years to complete. To keep my fabrication and woodworking skills sharp I enjoy making or repairing small things of manageable size requiring a high level of precision and craft. That is where my passion to fix guitars really began. It started with a couple of personal guitars I own.

The first instrument I modified was my guitar I’ve owned since being a teenager. Very inexpensive used guitar but it worked well for my needs. A couple of years ago, I opened the protective case and just wasn’t happy with it anymore. I took it completely apart and started making custom parts to unify the instrument.  A few months later, the guitar had updated electronics, and some body modifications.  Lots of fine tune adjustments and now it plays better than some of the high-end guitars on the market and its one-of-a-kind.

As I began to restore other guitars, I quickly became aware of the specialty tools required to achieve the precision demanded for a usable instrument. Most measurements must be within a thousandth of an inch or the instrument won’t be tunable. Another tricky issue is the finish. Achieving a high glossy finish on an instrument is a labor of love. Lots of time is needed to sand and finish and polish to near perfection. This process can take many months to achieve good results especially if custom graphics are part of the design.

As most artist, I’m dreaming up a masterpiece. I’m hunting for that one piece of beautiful figured wood from a tree that has been bent and burled for hundreds of years. A piece of wood that becomes intimidating to even mark with a pencil. When I find this wood, I’ll know that all my skills will be tested to create my dream guitar. A piece or art that showcases God’s creation and human craft.

  • Kellie Bellanger

    Love all of your wooden creations and your guitar restorations!! You have a great talent. You see the hidden beauty in objects. We are so proud of you son!!

  • Scott

    Beautiful article

  • Chandler

    Loved this spotlight. Nice article, Steve.