“Daddy, where do guitars come from?”
Though I’ve been a player for years, I never gave much thought to how guitars were made. This was not the case for Strictly 7’s president/luthier Jim Lewis who began creating instruments about a year ago. The trend of people buying big name guitars (which are predominantly made in Asia) and then customizing them inspired him to see how much it would cost him to manufacture custom guitars from his home in Medina.
When it comes to guitars everything starts with wood. A chunk about 17 inches wide and 2 inches thick is placed on a CNC machine that painstakingly routes out the body and electronics cavities. Once the wood is sculpted into the desired dimensions the guitar heads to the paint shop where the wood is painted, clear coated and buffed to a glossy finish.
While the colors dry, the neck wood takes its turn on the CNC, eventually reaching the correct proportions to provide for a perfectly intonated tool. The fret board is glued to the neck and then the beast is assembled. Pickups are screwed in and strings are tuned and stretched. The best thing about strictly seven guitars (aside from the fact that they are made in the U.S. from American parts and look really sweet) is that from start to finish, musicians craft them. Everyone involved with the company is a player so you can be sure that they’re building with more pride than greed, no one is out to make a quick buck.
The manufacture is not the end but merely the means; the goal is to create a great sounding instrument. Once the guitars are assembled they are given to Jim’s business partner, Paul for testing. Seeing as how the company is still in its infancy, they are always searching for ways to perfect their wares. Thirteen guitars have been produced in the last year, but be on the lookout for more. Jim and his several part-time employees are still cranking out 3 or 4 per month. Though at the moment sales are slow, Jim doesn’t seem worried. For him you can tell that this is a labor of love.