So much has happened in 5 years. It’s easiest to see what I’m up to by following me on Instagram, @guitarleys. But while you are here, please check out this video made by my good and very talented friend, Tyler Spooner (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk3yhEQG-n53IPIqRTzMPZw). Share just enough to make it viral! 😉

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The Wood Shop

I am excited to make a new, long overdue, post here on my site! I have been a busy luthier and musician so I’ll fill you in on what’s new at Guitarley’s!

Let’s start with the wood shop. For the past two and half years I’ve been acquiring tools and lumber to build guitars, patiently might I add. I recently made some further purchases and got the tools I need to finally get started with the next step in my career as a luthier (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luthier)! It feels great to have a functioning studio to make things. I now have the freedom and opportunity to obsess! I have started to learn the tools and dial them in for my purposes. I have also started to size and dimension my collection of lumber and organize stock!

Ash and Walnut Curly maple neck blanks Curly birdseye maple neck blanks 75 year old Mahogany 90 year old "golden" mahogany 90 year old "golden" mahogany

I spent yesterday afternoon running my tools, revealing the hidden beauty of some very special lumber that I purchased two years ago. I got the wood from the estate of famous American wood worker and artist, Wharton Esherick (http://www.whartonesherickmuseum.org/studio.html). This was a special chance opportunity to select some of the finest of lumber, especially at this early stage in my career. I was in the right place at the right time.

The density, color and other characteristics of these boards have a different feel than other quality woods available today. It’s hard to describe, but if you held each board you would feel the difference from others. There’s something spiritual about these boards as compared to others. Perhaps I’m feeling, in hindsight, the foresight of Esherick’s sense of quality in lumber. After all, he picked this wood out for his own personal endeavors as a wood worker, but passed before he could get to it. Does that mean he just had a lot of wood, or was he saving some of these boards because they were so special? I’ll never know, but it’s amazing to consider the story and spirit of these boards that are in my wood shop! I picked the cream of the crop, from a master craftsman’s cream of the crop!

I really look forward to the projects and creations to come and hope you will follow my adventures. I promise to keep it interesting! I’ll be posting pictures as usual to my social media accounts so get ready to follow, share and like some content! Follow me on Instagram (http://instagram.com/guitarleys), Twitter (https://twitter.com/guitarleys) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/guitarleys). Thanks supporting me as I chase my dreams as a craftsman, artist and musician.

Custom guitar body with CNC machine!

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It has been way too long since my last post! However, my negligence has been due to a very happily busy repair shop and constant developments in my lutherie and musical business! Life has been good to this “lucky luthier” and “guitar man”! My latest adventure this week was big league for sure…

I recently participated in the 2013 machine Expo at Hermance Machine Company (www.hermance.com). What a cool look into the world of production level woodworking this was! Every year major companies set up product and demonstration booths throughout the facility and show off their tools and what they can do. I was selected to join forces with C.R. Onsrud (www.cronsrud.com) who specialize in high quality CNC (computer numerical control) machinery designed for the aerospace, woodworking, plastics, and composites industries.

With a CAD (computer-aided design) program, we created a three-dimensional geometry of my resonator guitar to guide a very large CNC machine being shown at the expo. This machine cut out one of my guitar bodies, beautifully, in a matter of minutes! As a small luthier with smaller machines and hand tools, this was impressive and inspired possibilities of larger production in the future. It would have taken me a few hours instead of a few minutes.

For the immediate future, this particular machine has provided two mostly cut resonator bodies to be the first of guitars that will be built in my shop in Williamsport, PA. This is very exciting and motivational as I become one step closer to completing my wood shop and beginning the next step in my adventures in lutherie and music. Check out my photo album on Facebook by clicking this link, and be sure to ‘like’ and follow my page- http://on.fb.me/13OPbTL

Memphis Memories

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It was an honor to represent the Billtown Blues Association (www.billtownblues.org) in Memphis, TN, at the 2013 International Blues Challenge! Thank you to my supporters for providing me with another great opportunity like this. This was my third time competing and I realized how different each Beale Street experience has been. My first time in Memphis (2008) I competed with Black n’ Blues (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/blacknb), the second time (2009) with the Ann Kerstetter Band (http://www.annkerstetter.com) after having reconstructive surgery on a freshly reattached thumb. This last time (2013) I competed as a solo artist and Luthier! The one constant, when reflecting on my Memphis trips, is how great a time I’ve had and how much I’ve learned. The amount of talent in both the band and solo/duo divisions never ceases to amaze and humble me.

For many reasons this recent visit has been my favorite thus far! The IBCs inspired my first solo tour, which encompassed 7,000 miles of travel, performing in 15 different cities across the USA! I played just shy of 30 shows all in fantastic new venues while promoting my fresh solo album, “Karma” (http://bit.ly/KarmaCD). See tweets from my solo tour by searching for the hashtag #SWKarmaTour on Twitter (https://twitter.com/guitarleys). I was always nervous about playing solo shows, so to conquer my fears I took them head on in a big way! Not only did I promote and share my music on this tour, but I shared my profession in the art of lutherie! I was proud to perform my original songs on the guitars that I obsessively built myself. I also got to share this great experience with my love and best friend.

Memphis has really grown since the last time I visited! While the usual Beale Street barbecue and blues joints are amazing, it was nice to see many new and successful shops and restaurants on Main Street. I remember taking long runs in the afternoons on my last visit when it was all under renovation! Now Memphis’ downtown, just outside of the Beale St. section, has more of a local’s feel — it’s less touristy, very safe, and full of great places to shop and eat! The beautiful buildings, cobblestone walkways and the Trolley system are comforting and give the town a quaint feel. I really felt it was a city and area that I could move to! I could open a Luthier’s repair and wood shop, build and fix all the stringed instruments and amplifiers by day, then, after sunset, head down to Rum Boogie Cafe or King’s Palace and show them off! Sounds like the good life to me!

All in all my recent trip to the Memphis IBCs was stellar! It was my favorite visit yet! I plan to compete again in the Billtown Blues Auditions next year and will hopefully return to Beale in 2015. By then I should have at least another album or two and some cool new custom built guitars to show off. I think I’ll just keep competing in the IBCs as long as I am able and hopefully I’ll win it someday! It’s always worth a trip for all the great music, and it’s always an enriching learning experience. I feel I have many years left of paying my dues in the world of the blues, but will hopefully one day deserve recognition as a guitar player, singer, songwriter and a Luthier.

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