As a musician and mastering engineer, I enjoy an elegant, dependable, simply maintained instrument or accessory and â€“ as importantly - help from an expert when things get wack (or kluged, for all you tekkies). Iâ€™ve developed some relationships with really creative and inventive artists, engineers, and businesspeople out there, and I want to give a yearâ€™s end props to them for your future mutual benefits.
Paul Unkert, â€œThe Guitar Guyâ€ â€“ luthier, guitar builder
Paul is the best in NJ, easy. The only reason heâ€™s not the best in NYC is cause he likes where he lives! Paul has handled tens of thousands of instruments, repaired them expertly whether major or minor, and built a loyal clientele among the famous and not-so-famous rockers, bluesmen, and bluegrass pickers of Jersey and beyond. His new line of patented guitars is in production and he is filling orders.
Testimonial from Harmony Central
He’s an older cat in my hometown that had a lot to do with helping settting up and running the Kramer shop in Neptune,NJ. He also was the maker of those Vacaro guitars…the wood covered aluminum necks..Something with Hartke to. He builds guitars,mandolins,basses,banjos,violins,accoustics …you name it…from scratch. In other words…there aint nothing he dont know about stringed instrument building and how to repair them. I’ll tell you about how good and reasonable he is. He took my new SX P Bass and did a fret level,new nut,installed and grooved a BadAssII,new pickup and pots,and fitted a new Tort pickgaurd and setup for $44 and that was including his new strings. I took it in at 9:00 this mornning and he called at 11:30 and said come get her…she’s done. He’s done every bass and guitar I’ve owned since I’ve lived here. He’s also a very good bluegrass player.
Heres his shop info if you want it.
26 Main St. Suite #121 Toms River,NJ 08753 732-286-2333
Vern Brekke, Weber Mandolins â€“ luthier, instrument designer
Vern is the scientific and aesthetic working in perfect synthesis upon an intrinsically beautiful medium, a steel stringed acoustic wood instrument. I have three bridges he made, a stock Weber Octave Mandolin bridge, a custom fitted Morris Mandolin bridge, and a very custom bridge for an archtop guitar. This amazing piece of work transformed a nice, if natty 1940 Epiphone Blackstone into something much more powerful and subtley beautiful. Evenly balanced, it is the most reliably solid bridge Iâ€™ve ever felt.
Mike Nehra, Vintage King Audio
I asked the best mastering engineers in the field about equipment when I was fitting out my new studio, and I got a lot of great advice. Mike Nehra at Vintage King Audio was right there with all of them, making great suggestions and trying to keep me from needless costs. These guys are famous for their customer service. You should be so lucky to find out.
Long Hollow Leather â€“ guitar straps, leatherworks
I have two beautiful acoustic guitar straps handmade by these guys. They make straps for people who like to feel good when they play guitar. Yeah, they have some zany ones, but the best are the simplest. Their leather is perfectly tanned. Itâ€™s soft and supportive, and the strap attachments are elegant. Not overpriced, but real value. Iâ€™m waiting on a 3â€ padded softy for my new Music Man Stingray fretless bass. Itâ€™s just fun to say. â€œPadded Softyâ€. Thanks, Phil!
Howard Morris â€“ luthier, violin and mandolin maker
I found my Howard Morris mandolin (no. 75) on eBay. I saw the f shape â€“ check â€“ I saw a red tone on the top: cedar â€“ check â€“ another picture revealed black walnut back, sides, and neck â€“ the name â€œMorrisâ€ on the headstock?! I was hooked, and itâ€™s perfect. Price: $800. Support this man!
Howard Morris 330 Tumbleweed Blvd. Irrigon, OR 97844 USA. Telephone:, 541-922-9078
Mike Ramsey â€“ banjo maker
Mike’s banjos are hard to come by. I got lucky. I bought a fretless â€œWoodyâ€ from Elderly, learned to play clawhammer for the first time, and after about a year I decided that frets would really help. Mike made a new neck and practically gave it to me. A few months later he told me he still had that fretless neck, and would I want the Woody rim that was on the fretless? Hells yeah! This time I tried to overpay. A few more years go by. I really love the tone of the Woody, but the frets are gettinâ€™ much more play. I asked Mike if he would make me a fretted cherry Woody, and a year and change later I was blessed with the perfect banjo