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Builder Profile: Becker Guitars & Ryan Martin Basses

Builder Profile: Becker Guitars & Ryan Martin Basses

Genesis of the Theme Park
In the years prior to the genesis of ElectriCandyland, the shop focused primarily on repairs, which helped Becker and Martin acquire a strong understanding of instruments and how they work. “Together, we were able to figure out how we wanted to build,” Becker says. “Now we’re developing ways to dress up our instruments and theme them out. We build several different models of guitars, basses, and mandolins, all with different themes that determine specifications and cost. We do fully custom work in addition to our standard lines, and our builds have trademark qualities like neck-through construction, comfortable, rounded body edges, 24-fret necks, and 14–16" fretboard radii.”

“It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book,” says Martin. “There are so many options— so many doors that you could open on any given day. We’re taking it to a redesigning level, and I’m trying to stretch the boundaries of what I can build. I like to bring in some weird stuff that Dan’s hesitant about. A lot of times I have to build it to show him, because he’ll see the sketch and say, ‘Nah, I can’t see it.’” But Becker says Martin is convincing him more and more—especially since a large part of their market is professional artists. “The most exotic guitars,” Martin says, “are the most quirky guitars. It’s a show business out there—we have to feed the need. If it takes inventing the market, we’ll make some funky, twisted shit.”

Martin and Becker clearly have a sense of humor and seem remarkably laid back, but they take their work very seriously. They lead a small crew but have the ambition of a full production team. Becker works days, and Martin, the woodworker, works nights. Martin first carves the shape and design from the chosen wood, and then passes it off to Becker, who takes the wood frame and transforms it into an instrument. He adds the frets and strings, oversees pickup winding, and then adds any additional color. “Sometimes,” Martin says, “I won’t see him [Becker] for a couple of days, and then I’ll see this batch of gleaming instruments . . . and I’m, like, ‘Oh yeah—Dan’s been at work!’”

The two built their first guitar—a “little mistress” they named “the Triple O”—in 2007. “We had only built the one guitar when we saw an ad that there was going to be a guitar show in Boston,” Becker says. They signed up for the show with one guitar and intentions of building an entire line in a few months.

The show was an enormous undertaking for the pair, who practically lived in their repair shop during those months. Night and day, they worked feverishly to create an entire line of guitars from one prototype. “We had to design the guitars, build them, and make hardware for them,” Martin says, “and we had no designs. But we talked about the Alembic—Jerry Garcia’s guitar— as far as visualizing the wood and the lamination.”

Martin working on the router.

Becker doing some fretwork in his and Martin’s Attleboro, Massachusetts, woodshop.