lettering on a sign out front. I had the
opportunity to tour the shop, and learned
about the legacy of Gallagher Guitars.
When I stepped into the Gallagher guitar
Indeed, Hazel has helped take care of the
business since her husband, J. W. Gallagher,
opened the shop in the sixties. Today, Hazel
and J. W.’s son, Don Gallagher, owns and
runs the business, but I toured the shop
with Don’s youngest son, Stephen.
After a firm handshake and some chitchat,
Stephen took me on an insider’s tour that
would make any acoustic aficionado drool.
The shop was filled with perfectly aged
woods of all types from all over the world.
There were endless slabs of highly figured,
50-year-old rosewood and hand-tuned tops
with customer specific bracing. There was
an inlay station that had several works in
progress, some for special orders and some
for standard models. And scattered all over
used to make the guitars. Some have been
retired, but we still use a lot of the stuff he
designed and built today.”
Everything about the place was totally
unpretentious. During a break in the tour,
the shop were guitars in various stages of
the build process. All in all, the shop looked
like what you would expect to see in a successful, high-end, acoustic guitar builder
Dogwood Custom GA
shop foyer, a big, sweet, tail-wagging yellow
dog named Honey Bear greeted me, and to
the right sat a stately older woman named
Hazel who kindly said hello with a smile and
asked, “Can I help you?”
I got the sense that this woman has seen
it all, and then some. She seemed like the
glue that keeps the whole thing together.
But a closer look revealed some things not
found in other shops. The main difference
was in the vibe; the shop felt distinctively
vintage. Not fake, Cracker Barrel-vintage,
but real back-in-the-day vintage. There
was not a fancy CNC machine or computer screen in sight. Most of the machines
looked unique and well worn. Many of the
machines, forms and jigs were designed and
built by J. W. himself.
“Back in Grandpa’s day,” said Stephen,
“part of the luthier’s art was in designing,
fabricating, and building the machines
Dogwood Custom GA’s blossom inlay
craftsman Tom Fuss took me to a room
filled with special orders and experimental
guitars. It wasn’t a fancy showroom, dressed
up to accentuate how “down home” they
are, but a dusty old room filled with guitars
of all shapes, sizes, finishes and levels of
completeness. No secrets here.