Over the years, what I’ve tried to do in my PG
column is describe the guitar
manufacturing process, rather
than simply offer another comparison between mahogany and
rosewood. As a reader, I think
I’d find this more interesting.
I have touched on the many
challenges we and most other
builders face every day, so when
you’re at your job thinking, “I’d
give anything to be making guitars all day long,” you will know
that though it has its moments,
it also has its moments—if you
know what I mean.
One of the worst days I ever
had at this job was August 10,
2011. It began as most do—
checking my schedule to see
what parts needed to be run
that day on our CNC (
computer numerically controlled)
machine. The CNC is basically
a huge, computer-controlled
router. It saves tons of time,
tedious labor, and wood while
Our repaired and restored CNC humming along in its new home.
to move it to the nice and spacious building next door that
we bought in 2008. This would
give us much more room and
allow us to move the rest of the
milling-room equipment into
the CNC space, getting all the
part-making into one place. But
due to the recession and the
I ran out to the CNC room and found
the machine engulfed in flames with
the room starting to catch.
making perfect parts every time.
This allows us to spend our time
building the bodies and doing
the final shaping of the necks, as
well as finish work and setups. It
has been an invaluable piece of
equipment, making our guitars
much better, and dramatically
increasing our efficiency.
On this day, I checked my
schedule and saw that I needed
to make fretboards. I powered
up the machine, fixed the jig to
the table, and loaded the ebony
blanks to make four fretboards.
Then, as usual, I went back
inside the main building to set
up some guitars. Because of its
size, the CNC was located in a
metal building behind our main
shop, though it was in our plans
amount of time it would take to
move it, we just couldn’t afford
for the machine to be down.
On the fateful day, just 15 min-
utes after starting the machine,
I noticed a passerby staring into
the CNC building and looking
back into the office.
the fire, but also improving the
shop in the process (aka lemons
to lemonade). We decided this
was finally the time to move
the machine to our “new” facility next door. Recession be
damned! After all, we already
owned that building, and faced
no real risk by moving into it.
My friend and folk musician
Robin Williams likes to say,
“To make a long story interesting … ” In that light, all could
not have worked out better.
And as I type this, the machine
is humming away in its new,
spacious, and better-lit home
while working on the very fretboards it was making when it
burst into flames. Many thanks
to the folks who passed along
their well-wishes during that
stressful time and to the folks
at Pinnacle CNC who did a
great job of getting us back up
and running. Sometimes, good
things can happen when we are
able to rid ourselves from the
“woe-is-me” attitude and move
on from adversity.
MARK DALTON is a
founding partner of Huss
& Dalton Guitar Company.
When not building guitars,
Mark and his wife, Kimberly,
tend to the draft horses
and mules that inhabit their
farm in the Piedmont region of Virginia.