MUSIC BUSINESS: Paul Kneller of Garage Music with one of his Hard Road handmade guitars. Photo: Adam Hourigan
MUSIC BUSINESS: Paul Kneller of Garage Music with one of his Hard Road handmade guitars. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Paul's guitars made from scratch

UNFINISHED guitar bodies and spare fretboards are scattered around Paul Kneller's Maclean home workshop.

"I get so focused on what I'm doing, I'm not worried about what the shop looks like," he said.

Creating custom guitars is a passion for the Big River Bait and Tackle shop owner, who provides a host of local artists with one-of-a-kind instruments.

Mr Kneller wasn't always interested in plying his musical trade.

He completed his joinery apprenticeship in 1984, but moved out of the profession ten years ago to open a fishing tackle shop in Maclean.

His son Matthew has played guitar from the age of seven, and as he grew so did the price tag for his instruments.

"It wasn't until our son started putting his hand out for quite expensive guitars that I thought, 'I could do that'," he said.

Mr Kneller couldn't play at the time, but his background as a qualified joiner helped him craft his first instrument at his home workshop.

He has now built close to 50 custom guitars from scratch, specialising in the use of native Australian timbers.

His wife Cheryl has largely taken over the operation of the fishing tackle shop.

"A simple guitar I can knock over in a week, but fiddly jobs can take up to a month," he said.

"You don't need to know how to play to make a guitar.

"Leo Fender, creator of Fender guitars, never played a note in his life."

While this may be true, you do need a good ear and an eye for precision.

"In guitar-making if you're half a mill out, scrap it," he said.

The amount of time and care that goes into making a guitar makes it all too easy to get attached.

The first one was the hardest to let go of, he said.

"I've been in the business of buying and selling for years, but I've never felt a separation like that before.

"It's almost like losing a child."

Mr Kneller has also grown to love playing his guitars and has been taking professional lessons for more than a year.

"When you play there's no room in your head for the day's drama, all your concentration goes into playing," he said.

"It helps me sleep; I've woken up a few times with a guitar in my hands."

And when he's not playing or creating guitars, he often drops in on local gigs to watch his instruments being played by talented musicians.

Mr Kneller added that musos were always welcome to come and play his guitars at his shop-front Garage Music, out the back and around the corner from the Big River bait and tackle shop.

GARAGE GUITARS

Paul Kneller has made guitars for a host of musicians who play in bands across the North Coast.

 Adam Wilson, who plays in The Perfect Storm.

 George Christie, of Byron Bay-based hard rock band Fort.

 Darren Ford, The Ford Brothers.

 Nick Jansen, one half of acoustic duo Nick and Sam.

 Marty Robinson, who plays in Hekyl and Jive.



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