Chad Henrichsen (in photo) and Gonzalo Madrigal are the two master builders in charge at the Gretsch Custom Shop in Corona, California. Henrichsen arrived at the shop in 2008.

Master builder Chad Henrichsen pours his creativity into Falcons, Jets, Penguins, and other axes that soar, including the Tom Petersson 12-string signature bass. His secret: experience and micro-attention to detail.

The art of guitar building lies somewhere between Zen and a lightning strike. The watercourse way of experience dictates some processes, their workflow eased by years or decades of practice. Other turns come in a flash of inspiration and leave an instrument that will give off a distinctive creative charge for decades.

Read MoreShow less