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! 😉

5 Year Anniversary

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 4.12.03 AMCan you believe that it’s been 5 years since Guitarley’s opened it’s doors!? I can! It’s been a wonderful adventure and the shop has grown immensely. Starting as just a small repair shop with a small work bench, a few guitar hangers, and an amp or two, I now have a custom wood shop and repair/show room, that is packed full of guitars, projects, and woods! I have worked on thousands of guitars and built several customs, with many more in the works. It’s hard to believe sometimes.

Guitarley’s has recently been chosen to design and build 12 custom guitars for Geisinser Health Systems! 12 guitars! Get ready to see some serious building this spring.

I’ll also be hosting an open house to celebrate the 5 years of business! Please plan to attend on Saturday, April 2, from 4-7pm! Come see the guitars that have been built, custom amps, woods, tools, and me!

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.

A victory for Guitarley’s

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I’m happy to announce that I recently won a regional Blues competition hosted by the Billtown Blues Association! This makes me a quarter finalist in the International Blues Competition (http://www.blues.org/ibc/#ref=ibc_index) to take place in January of 2013 on Beale Street, Memphis TN! I have done this competition twice before with two different bands and had a blast every time. Last time I played with a freshly re-attached left thumb, playing slide on my lap while in a fancy cast. I hope to make up for it this time around. The saying goes “third time’s a charm!” I’m hoping it applies this time. Not only do I hope to gain from this as a musician, but now as a luthier also. It will be an amazing networking platform for me to play my original music through guitars that I have built myself. I can’t wait to tell everyone about them! I have to remember to take a few business cards with me! I attached a link that will take you to the article about the event I participated in, the musician involved, and a little about myself too. Enjoy!

http://www.sungazette.com/page/content.detail/id/576235/BLUES-TIME.html?nav=5011

LIVE DEMO: The fruits of my labor…

Please check out this video of me playing a newly fixed stratocaster. It needed a lot of love when it came into Guitarley’s! It received some neck repair, fret work, full set up, new bone nut, and a new set of pickups from Seymour Duncan ( http://www.seymourduncan.com ). The “Everything Axe Set” sound outstanding! You can check this link out directly to my youtube page or you can visit and ‘like’ my shop’s Facebook page and see this job and lot’s more! ( http://www.facebook.com/guitarleys ) Make sure to check blogs about my shop, being a luthier, being a musician, small business, and more! Make sure to give me feedback and share! Thanks!

 

Small Business Ownership: “It’s kind of like a roller coaster ride…”

          I officially opened up my small business on April 1st, 2011. The business name: “Guitarley’s Custom Guitar & Repair.” The paperwork and red tape was easily navigated and completed thanks to my local Small Business Development Center (http://www.lhup.edu/sbdc/), a wonderful resource. I was in and out of this office in about an hour with all necessary paper work, tax items and helpful reading material. I was officially a sole proprietor! It almost seemed too easy!
          My business model? I make and fix stringed instruments. My customer base? Relatively specific: people who have stringed instruments. I do a little retail here and there, order parts as needed, have select tools, and do the best work I can. I started out with as little overhead as possible, as advised by one of my instructors at Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery (http://www.roberto-venn.com/), where I was trained and certified in my craft. He suggested some basic power tools, hand tools and a little shop in a good location. “Just start out simple and let it grow naturally,” he said. Well, I lucked out by getting a great deal on a business district storefront and apartment all in one– it was custom made for me. It’s beautiful and convenient! I roll out of bed and walk into my shop! I can take breaks, or never take breaks! I have a 5 foot commute to work, the place is a tax write-off, I’m there to “guard the fort” and I’m always comfortable.
          I took advantage of my connections and relationships to get things started. People were excited for me and my new venture and were willing to help out and lend or return favors. It felt great to have all that support from friends, family and acquaintances. I had lots of local press to draw attention and the help of social media as well (https://www.facebook.com/guitarleys & https://twitter.com/#!/guitarleys). Almost all of the advertising I have done to date has been FREE, and it has worked! Thanks to Facebook and Twitter I have freely promoted myself and made customers and professional contacts locally, regionally and, even cooler, world wide! In business school, I always loved the concept of “buzz marketing” and that’s what I have mostly relied on. It’s very tangible and accountable– I do good work, customers tell others about their positive experience with my service and my customer base grows!
          Now, about that roller coaster ride…
          I have already had my first experiences with cyclical business trends. As a bartender I know that January and February are usually slower months, but as a guitar repair shop owner, I noticed a different trend. I remember tons of cool work coming into my shop in the beginning, I was slammed! It was so exciting. I felt so useful and needed. Long term success was in plain sight. Well, maybe that was a little premature. After finishing up a ton of work I would sit down and feel proud. Then it would hit me… I just finished all my work! That meant something different when I worked for someone else. In this case it meant there wasn’t any more work to do and get paid for! It was a pat on the back that turned into a sharp blow to the gut. I realized the responsibility and sensed the difference of being employed vs. self-employed.
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          Very little work came in for a few weeks after that. Just as I was really stressing over keeping up with bills and losing hope (also premature), a big job would come in! So I was back on top! Then a few more came in, and again, they were big jobs! So I paid the bills and then repeated that cycle for several months. When people asked me “What it was like?” or “How is the business going?” all I could say was “It’s kind of like a roller coaster ride.” The nervous anticipation as you climb, waiting for the next drop, the thrill and enjoyment of getting over the hump, the sudden twists and turns, up and down, up and down, fast and slow! It’s exciting and then a little stressful, a humbling experience that continues to keep me on my toes. I’ve been learning to put the money away for those “rainy days” in business. I also use those slow times to come up with other ways to make money: product extensions, new ventures, booking gigs, picking up a bar tending shift here and there, etc. I learned to not waste time and use free moments to invest and create busier days in the future. As a result, I have been experiencing longer busy times and slower down times.
          So, the graphs and charts show positive growth, and that’s fundamentally positive and successful. That’s the exact plan! Patience and positive thinking get me through. Inventiveness, during slow times, helps things to grow down the line. As a small business owner, and a person in general, you should never be bored. Boredom is just another word for lazy and unmotivated. Down time is when you get a chance to plan for the future, explore new ideas and take stock of your past-to-current practices and outcomes. You should always be learning and researching your business and/or trade to improve your product and offerings. Some of the best advice I received pertaining to that is, “You have to be the expert your customer expects you to be.”

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A stroll down memory lane

This is a news video that was done during my class at Roberto-Venn in the fall of 2010. I thought I would share this info my viewers to let you know more about me, my shop, what I do, and the school itself. It was truly one of my best experiences ever and helped shape my life. I’m in a RV kind of mood lately as I am planning to take a few mini courses there in late spring. These classes sound amazing and will offer me a wealth of new knowledge to help my shop provide more, and even better services! Enjoy and make sure to check out the school on the web. Click on “A stroll down memory lane” to see the news clip!

http://www.roberto-venn.com