Playing a Work of Art

Some works of art make more art. And so it is with the guitars made by two Chase designers, Dave Furth and Ron Kingston.

Dave Furth, Senior Mechanical Designer, wanted a vintage Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster. But he chose not to go shopping. “It’s more fun to make them,” he said, and then he made an amplifier as well.

Ron Kingston, Senior Designer, has also made two guitars. “I wanted the challenge,” he said, “and an instrument that was truly personal.” Each choice along the way – type of wood, body shape, the length of the neck, electronics, finish – affects how an instrument will play and sound, including the character of the tone and how long a note sustains. When you build it yourself, you have more control.

Guitar parts are available commercially, and you can piece together a body, neck, hardware, and electronics to create your own custom guitar, or you can go even farther and start “from scratch.” For his first guitar, Ron started with a piece of wood for the body, then sourced the neck and electronics from others.

The result was a “Kingston Custom” mahogany and tiger-stripe maple guitar, accented with handmade ebony knobs. For his second guitar, Ron sourced an ash and tiger-stripe maple body in the classic Telecaster shape.

Both designers point to the finishing process as the most tedious. Using lacquer made especially for musical instruments, they applied up to 20 coats to each guitar, with drying time and hand-sanding between each coat. Dave created the classic sunburst pattern on his Les Paul with an airbrush and hand-sanding before applying the lacquer.

Even when you’re done, you’re not really done. Adjusting the bridge for the correct intonation, tuning, playing, even watching the lacquer finish age gracefully, are all a part of the process. And every day, they enjoy the satisfaction of a work of art that looks beautiful, and sounds beautiful, too.