Custom-Made Guitars From NH's Chris Stambaugh
These guitars sound as good as they look
Courtesy of Chris Stambaugh
Chris Stambaugh of Alton Bay never had any formal training as a luthier, handcrafting guitars, basses and other stringed musical instruments. He didn’t let that stop him from founding and owning his own business doing just that, however. He operates Stambaugh Musical Designs right from his own home, entering 2014 as his 20th year doing so.
“Industrial design simply means the designing of products, so it can be anything from designing cars to doing what I do,” Stambaugh says. “There are luthier schools, but most end in a matter of a few weeks, and you’re on your own after that. I didn’t want to do that.”
Stambaugh says it can take him anywhere from 30 to 60 hours combined to build a guitar or a bass, and that other stringed instruments like violins and violas are separate projects in and of themselves. Among Stambaugh’s clients is Ben McKee, bassist of alternative rockers Imagine Dragons. Most of the other musicians who use his guitars and basses are local, including Keith Foley of Dover, named by Stambaugh himself as the “God of bass in New Hampshire.”
Stambaugh crafts mostly electric basses, as he is a bassist himself, and says that his basses can be played on multiple styles of music. He sells his work right off of his website, but also works with Ear Craft Music, a retailer based out of Dover.