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Machining’s Role in Making Custom Guitars

A healthy amount of machining goes into creating custom guitars like this beauty.

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A healthy amount of machining goes into creating custom guitars like this beauty.

I took my 12-year-old son Ryan (who is showing increasing interest in playing his guitar) to his first rock concert last week. We saw one of my favorite guitarists, Joe Satriani. He rocked, and Ryan and I had a blast.

The following day, we chatted about the similarities and differences between Joe’s Ibanez guitars and our Ibanez guitars. Although Joe’s are “production” guitars like ours, his are signature models, made to his particular specifications. I told Ryan that a few years ago, I got to see how some truly custom guitars are made, and mentioned how the stuff ole dad writes about (i.e. machine tools) are used to create them.

Ron Thorn, owner of Thorn Custom Guitars, makes six-string gems like the one above in his Glendale, California shop. Here’s a bit about how he does it using equipment from suppliers including Haas, Onsrud Cutter and Air Turbine Technology.