MODERN BUILDER VAULT
BY CHRIS KIES
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL G. STEWART
Matt Artinger has been a professional
luthier for 13 years, but he’s been crafting
guitars much longer than that. His love
for luthiery was sparked back in the ’80s
from his obsession with MTV—when they
actually played music videos. “I remember
making more than my share of cardboard
air guitars and rocking in front of the TV to
just about any and every hair-metal band
I could find,” laughs Artinger. The self-described tinkerer didn’t pick up a real-deal guitar until his early teens, but from
the onset he was more fascinated with
how it was built than how it played.
“Soon after learning to play, I began buying old, junker Kays and Harmonys with
my chore money,” remembers Artinger.
“For years, I tore apart and rebuilt those
guitars. I ended up building my first guitar
from scratch when I was 16. It was a Martin
from a dreadnought kit.”
But Artinger didn’t approach guitar building
as a hobby or something to fiddle with—he
knew this was going to be his life. To improve
his woodworking abilities, Artinger took a job
helping a local master cabinetmaker, and then
at age 19, he founded Artinger Custom Guitars.
The shop has had some up and down moments
over the years, but Artinger is still glad he made
the decision to be a luthier.
Art Deco Archtop
“As a 19-year-old entrepreneur stepping
into this business, I’d have never believed
that at age 33, I’d have built more than 500
instruments and still be going this strong,”
says Artinger. “I have no idea what may be
around the corner for me or Artinger Custom
Guitars, but I’m ready and willing to build it.”
The Art Deco Archtop has a carved German
spruce top, a carved figured bubinga back,
bubinga sides, and a Brazilian rosewood neck
matched with a 25"-scale ebony fretboard.
This particular model features a one-off, custom headstock with a floating Artinger logo.
Other custom appointments include its hand-carved ebony bridge and tailpiece.
Quilted Sapele Hollowbody
Featuring a one-piece sapele top and back
with matched sapele sides, the Quilted Sapele
Hollowbody has a 25"-scale ebony fretboard