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“We wanted to see more craft and soul come back into the guitar market and wanted to be a part of that,” says Bousley.

Not so long ago, Boston-area musicians Austin Bousley and Travis Alexander found themselves suffering from the same affliction that plagues countless guitarists. The gear-junkie friends had budgets that simply couldn’t satiate their taste for the vintage, custom, and unique instruments they’d “constantly drool over” at local shops. And feeling that many modern-day production instruments lacked what they loved in vintage and custom guitars, they decided they wanted to do something about it. “We wanted to see more craft and soul come back into the guitar market and wanted to be a part of that,” says Bousley.

About six years ago, the two started out slowly by hot rodding and refinishing guitars they already owned. Not long after that, they partnered with two other friends and officially launched Venture Guitars as a team of four. Today, the mostly self-taught group of builders works out of a shop in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where they build custom instruments in whatever style and configuration their customers can dream up.

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Châteauneuf says that any form of art, be it architecture or African art, can be a source of inspiration for him.

Pierre-Marie Châteauneuf, who handcrafts guitars out of a one-man workshop in the small town of Montferrier-sur- Lez outside Montpelier in Southern France, says it was Slash that “injected the guitar venom” into him when he was 14. That same year, he got his first taste of lutherie when he sought someone to fix his very first guitar that was “just impossible to play.”

Châteauneuf had always been good with his hands—growing up he built toys with his amateur-woodworker grandfather. At age 16, he made his unofficial start as a luthier when his best friend approached him to fix a broken-in-two guitar. Because the result was so successful, several other guitar-playing friends started coming to Châteauneuf with their instruments.

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One creation that sets Hartung apart is his unique “flow-carving” design, which he developed in 2002 and uses on many of his instruments.

Frank Hartung considers his work a calling more than an occupation. He first became attracted to the world of lutherie because of the dissatisfaction he experienced with an expensive guitar made by a large, American company. The issues this guitar had were intriguing, and forced him to deal with materials and construction details and how they relate to each other. Eventually, this led Hartung down the road to building his first guitar.

It was a success for a few reasons: his vocational training as a carpenter, experience with the particularities of woods, and some valuable advice from fellow German luthier Ulrich Teuffel. Hartung quickly drew the attention of experts and musicians who encouraged him to continue building. While the budding luthier appreciated the accolades, it was the satisfaction of building with his own hands that inspired him the most, and he went on to craft instruments on a part-time basis for several years under the name of Forge Guitars. Over time, the awareness of his guitars increased and the orders piled up—so much that he quit his day job to become a full-time luthier under his own name.

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