Friday, June 03, 2011

Luthier Eben Atwater : Aerie Guitars

About Eben Atwater and Aerie Guitars from

Eben lives in west Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife Monica Lynn Atwater and son Casey.

Eben's involvement in repairing, customizing, and building guitars began about eight years ago, when he first started working on his own guitars because he didn't want to pay what 'real' repair places charged. This led to doing for others' as he had done for himself, followed by building a replacement neck from scratch for a friend. Next thing he knew, he was asked if he'd build a brand-new custom guitar, and so it began. Eben says, "I am largely a self-taught builder, but I certainly owe a big thank you and a huge debt of gratitude to Master Luthier Steve Stevens of Breckenridge, Texas. Steve is my mentor and guitar-building touchstone: You will see certainly see his influence in my guitars."

Eben grew up in the 60s, the youngest of four kids. His mother is an artist and gardener by avocation and profession and His father a teacher of economics. Eben's mother played guitar back when he was very young. Eben recalls, "We talked about this recently, and she recalled the she had an early 60's Gibson that disappeared somewhere along the line - At 83, she says, "I wonder what I did with that guitar..." My dad, while definitely an economist by profession also had a serious artistic bent - He carved well, liked to build things, and always believed he could do what needed to be done, even if he'd never done it before. He was a serious weekend warrior when it came to woodworking and the tools associated with such. I inherited a lot of what makes me who I am from my wonderful folks - they gave me skills, smarts, education, common sense, and an appreciation for other people and places, good music, good food, and good friends. I've been working with wood my whole life, from framing and finish carpentry, to furniture, arts, crafts, and of course guitars. I started taking guitar lessons and playing at 10 years old, after a brief stint with a trumpet, (I wanted to be Buck Clayton...). I've been playing ever since, in more bands than I can remember. I am a working guitar player and singer here in Fort Worth, Texas."

About his guitar building philosophy, Eben says, "I have to say that my approach is first and foremost as a player. As a band leader playing acoustic, or a composer working on my own stuff, I want a guitar with a well-tempered voice, good balance across its range, and the ability to articulate well at both low and high volume; so that's what I build. Some very fine professionals have played and own Aeries, and generally described them as full voiced, well balanced, and easy to play: That is what I strive to make: The characteristic sound of a handmade guitar depends as much on the builder’s touch as it does the materials used. My guitars sound and look the way they do because I build them by hand, one at a time. Hand building ain't fast; it also means that each instrument is a bit different than the last, and they all have the subtle signs of being a handmade instrument, (AKA, they ain't perfect like a shiny ol' production guitar). Working by hand is what makes guitar building fun for me: If it was all automated and whatnot, I doubt I'd like doing it, to be honest! In any case, these differences are important to understand if and when you're thinking about getting your own handmade guitar - It's a one of a kind, living breathing thing, and that's why they're beautiful. From a design standpoint, my primary influence comes from guitars made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Before the Dreadnaught took over the flat top world, there were a bunch of shapes and sizes of guitars that were amazing, wonderful instruments. It's the essence of those wonderful old guitars that I have and will continue to draw inspiration from for my designs."

Eben offers three acoustic models (parlor, OM and Jumbo sized) and an electric model, however, like custom builders of present times, he builds what he is commissioned to.

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