30 years of guitar building 1975-2005
In 1965 my older brother came home with a Popular Mechanics
magazine containing an article on building your own guitar.
Our Dad had a building and joinery business, I had quit piano
and sax to do Folk Music, I was hooked on Dylan and I had
to have a guitar.
Over the next few years I built ten fairly "agricultural"
guitars and a reasonable mandolin. Whack the timber through
dad's machinery, stick it together, bang some frets in, give
it a bit of Estapol with the old paint brush and bang! - you've
got a guitar (who needs bindings, rosettes and so on ?).
Early 12 string built 1965
A little later with my wife and two little kids, I moved
to Ballarat to finish an Engineering Course. I was also keenly
involved in an acoustic band and, lo and behold, I was once
again afflicted by the guitar building bug. This time it was
serious. I built a small bodied acoustic with a neck 15 frets
clear of the body that could play single note stuff alongside
a banjo and double bass without being lost and WOW! It worked!
In 1975 I quit Engineering and commenced business building
and repairing guitars and anything else if it related to music!
The great Irish player Louis McManus and Blues man Dutch Tilders
were my first commissions and things looked good. By 1980 we had
built 105 guitars - 33 Acoustics and 72 electrics. The electrics
were a variety of custom guitars of all sorts and about 25 N5 guitars
and basses (our original plank neck design) and 22 Shark models.
In the early 1980s we developed our Eagle and Hawk bolt-on -neck
guitars and produced 146 guitars between 1980 and 1986. My son Kurtis
was apprenticed to me in '87 and this stimulated me to develop our
own Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine. This took several
years of "on the side" development of the machine and
then the software/operating system. We produced 155 guitars through
the difficult 1990s, totalling just over 400 guitars over 25 years.
There aren't too many fortunes made producing guitars and after
six years Kurtis went off to train as an environmental scientist
(the next best job of work after guitar making!).
My good friend David Newton has been with me since 1980 and has
been crucial to the development of "The
Machine" and many other aspects of the guitar building
and repair business. Dave is a Bass Player/ electronics engineer/computer