New Business Gronlund Newcomb Guitars Makes Playable Art
James Greene’s workshop in Columbia Falls is a somewhat noisy place. He works for weeks sawing, shaving, and filing recycled wood to create his product.When he’s all finished, he’s able to make a much different kind of noise: music.His business is called Gronlund Newcomb Guitars and he specializes in semi-hollow and solid body electric guitars, all made by hand.”The good thing about completely handmade stuff, not using computers and CNC machines and these types of technology, is that each and every piece is totally unique and different,” said Greene.It’s a brand new business, but guitars certainly aren’t new to Greene. He began playing when he was 15. Back then he had built a few guitars using kits. “I used to say to myself, ‘I’d like to build one of these things from scratch,’ but I couldn’t really picture it happening. I think having not been formally trained I don’t think I could do this really and be successful at at,” he said.Greene got his formal training about two years ago at the Roberto-Venn School of Guitar Luthiery in Phoenix, Arizona. From there, he moved to Washington state to work at Warmoth Custom Guitar Parts.”I worked on the neck crew, we built guitar necks day in and day out, about 5 other guys I worked closely with and we would build about 50 guitar necks a day,” he explained.Then about eight months ago, Greene moved back to Maine to start his own business in his home state.He said, “I think really what I’m trying to do now is make my vacation my vocation.”Though each one is unique, Greene’s guitars have a specific look to them. He said, “I have a shape here that I’m mostly trying to stay within because I think that that’s the way that I can make my mark, have a shape that is out there and people recognize as being my own.”But Greene knows that musicians or collectors purchasing a handmade guitar might be looking for some custom specifications. He said he’ll make custom anything for anyone who asks.He said, “The most important thing is that it plays well. It’s one thing to have it look really good, but will it play? Will it hold tune? And a very close second is, is it sexy? You know, does it look really cool?”What Greene creates is a work of art. But unlike other art forms, his has a specific function. He’s making something beautiful that makes music.