Trevor Healy has been building and repairing guitars since 1999.
Every week he says he sees an instrument that surprises him in some way, forcing him to take a new perspective with every job he does. One of the perks of the job, however, is getting to play each and every guitar that comes through his shop.
He shared his story with Producer Dave Fraser from his shop in Easthampton.
See “The Healer,” one of Trevor’s custom crafted guitars, in action in a digital exclusive segment.
Read the Full Transcript:
Trevor Healy, Healy Guitars: I think instrument making is one of those really cool things that just overlaps between two different worlds. It’s the physical work that I really enjoy the most, milling a piece of wood, preparing a surface for glue up, doing all those small measurements to put something together that then has a function in the end.
You know, I definitely consider myself a craftsperson and a musician versus an artist.
We make two different model guitars here, and this one is called the Healer. It’s an offset guitar body, so the waist of the instrument is not symmetrical. It’s shifted this way a little bit. And then the other instrument is called the Growler. The materials on this are Brazilian rosewood, which a friend of ours brought us that was found in a barn in Hadley. So, the material itself is decades old. The headstock face is also Brazilian. The top is pine that I’ve stained black, and the back and neck are Spanish cedar.
I found this space online. I’m in the Eastworks Building in Easthampton, and it was affordable enough in the moment that I wanted to start doing my own work, that we took a chance, my wife and I, on renting this and it’s worked out well.
We work on 10 to 20 instruments a week, whether it’s a setup or a broken headstock, a bridge, or a crack repair, replacing a bone nut, or just making a guitar more functional. So, repair work is a fairly constant thing in our shop, and we build, you know, around 20 instruments a year at this point. How an instrument resonates is a really, really big part of guitar making to me.
And as someone who plays instruments, plays guitar and bass, if an instrument resonates acoustically — even if it’s an electric — and it gives you back something, you’re getting feedback from your belly where it’s touching on your leg, in your hands. All of those things are kind of going into your body. The more resonance that an instrument has, probably the more you’re going to respond to it and you’re going to enjoy it.
I’ve learned things through furniture making and joinery that have taught me how to fit pieces of wood together, how to glue them together. Grain orientation for structural issues that might arise in the future because of string tension.
So, really looking at all of those parts and just kind of figuring out what am I making and why am I making it? Who am I making it for? And taking everything from there, just kind of the sky is the limit.
We’ve now been here for 11 years, made about 100 guitars in this space since then and repaired thousands of instruments. I think because I’m putting a lot of creative energy into it as well, making something that looks great, it’s different than creating a work of art that you put on the wall. It’s going to serve its function as an instrument, and that’s crucial to me. I would be pretty disappointed if someone ordered a guitar and just put it on the wall and wasn’t playing it. So that our instruments are able to be in the hands of people performing and creating their art, I think is amazing.