An unassuming upper level studio situated in the middle of Ypsilanti, Michigan is currently home to Huron Guitars, a shop specializing in custom built electric guitars. In a brightly lit back room just off of the kitchen, owner Luke Jackson quietly works on his latest custom telecaster. He is surrounded by an array of tools, guitar parts and pieces, wood finishes and electronics. The guitar he’s currently working on features a unique faded blue finish, bringing to mind the familiarity of a favorite pair of old blue jeans that you’ve cherished for years.
In 2014, Luke began Huron Guitars as a creative endeavor inspired by his years as a working musician and guitar technician. Luke’s knowledge of woodworking extends even further back to his childhood, when as a young boy he helped with odd jobs at the family sawmill, working with his father, uncle and grandfather. During this time, he learned a lot about the traditional methods and uses for lumber as well as gained an understanding for the process of turning raw material into a finished product.
Luke hand finishes each guitar with a process that involves combining the right color with the right piece of wood. No two guitars look the same and that’s the driving concept behind the business – to create from start to finish, a completely unique instrument tailored to an individual player’s specifications. Unlike the traditional guitars that are factory made by many hands, careful thought is given to the components of each guitar, even down to the patterned, cloth covered wiring, reminiscent of older electronics from another era.
I spoke with Luke at length about his newly developed start up business, future plans and challenges over coffee. With many small businesses, crowd-funding has become a popular way to raise capital and garner support about a product, brand or idea. Lots of musicians use it too as a way to raise funds for album production or touring. So naturally, a Kickstarter would seem like a next step. And while Luke says he’s very much interested in the idea, he also worries about things growing too fast, too soon. He says he would rather work at a slower pace to allow for thoughtful business decisions and growth to happen more organically. For now, the next step is creating more content to help promote his emerging brand. He plans to have a video produced to highlight the look, feel and sound of the guitars as they’re played by local musicians. Be on the lookout for that video in early spring.
Check them out at www.huronguitars.com
Article and photos by Heather of HMN Photography