Rochester Man Strikes Chord With Guitarists

Created: 04/15/2014 7:15 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 News) -- His shop is just off a quiet street on the edge of Rochester.

And he’s struck a chord with guitar players around the world.

"I consider myself a craftsman," Michael Keller said. “There's a lot of art to making a fine guitar."

For Michael Keller, it’s a career, a passion and a calling.

"I'm always working on two or three instruments at a time."

Today, Michael Keller hand-builds ten to fifteen guitars a year. He's not sure how many he's built in all: “Less than a thousand, more than 600."

It was a passion that began in 1975 in Portland, Oregon.

"I was a guitar player and I met a guitar maker. I had no shop, no tools, but I did have a house with a big basement. I thought I could do that."

He no longer has the *first* guitar he built: “I eventually burned it. I've had a lot of people shake their heads and say how could you burn your first guitar. It was very easy ... it was a piece of junk" he laughs.

“I don't know if I was actually born to build, but it certainly feels like it. It's been 39 years I've been doing it, and I still love to do this."

Depending on the inlays the customer wants hand-crafting a guitar takes between 70 and 80 hours.

"This one's ready to go in the spray booth, and be lacquered and strung up. This is mine," Michael Keller told us, holding up a new guitar with pride.

Today, a Keller guitar sells for an average of about 48-hundred dollars. Collectors have paid 25-thousand.

"When I'm done they're not supposed to be sitting there think about the inlays. They're supposed to be thinking of how to be expressive on the guitar, how to get different sounds out of it. It's a tool to make music."

To learn more about Michael Keller and his hand-crafted guitars click on this link.

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