Saturday, June 04, 2011

Luthier Ted Megas : Megas Guitars

About Ted Megas and Megas Gutars from

Ted Megas has been making fine guitars (archtop and electric) for twenty plus years.

The woodworking and artisan aspects of Ted's life began in his Dad's basement woodshop, where Ted had unlimited access to woodworking tools, where he developed his knack for being able to build things he set his mind to, musical and otherwise. Close upon this was the teenage discovery that guitars and guitar music were way beyond cool. It being the sixties, a rebellious spirit illuminated his path, beginning with Hendrix, segueing into McLaughlin, Montgomery and a stint exploring jazz-rock fusion in his own band in Buffalo, New York.

Ted recalls, "My Dad was a metallurgical engineer, but he knew his way around woodworking tools and he had a good selection. He didn't formally teach me, but I always had access to the shop and was pretty quick at picking things up. I never had any money, so I just naturally started building things I wanted, like speaker cabinets. Some of those first guitars I had were pretty rough, too, so I was constantly tinkering with them."

Ted's skill at creating archtop guitars is the confluence of two guiding passions in his life: music and fine craftsmanship in wood, metal and other materials. But Megas didn't even try making a guitar himself until his iconoclastic nature brought him to San Francisco in the early 70's, where for years he led a double life of custom furniture builder by day and jazz player by night. At first he remained focused on being a musician, supporting himself with woodworking jobs and projects. Gradually he built up his own shop and became well-known for his work in custom cabinetry and furniture, though his "heart wasn't in it." The dream of making a go as professional musician began to fade. Then one day the dream took an unexpected twist. Ted remembers, "Around the corner from where I lived was Panjandrum Press. They had a book on display, 'The Electric Guitar-It's History and Construction' by Donald Brosnac. I looked at it, I bought it, I still have it. The guitar it showed was something less than spectacular, but it did show how to do it. So I thought: he can do it, I can do it. I'm going to make a guitar."

Ted's first effort, a lefty Fender-style bass for a friend, got impressive reviews. The light went on. Ted was going to make guitars. He says, "Of course right after my first original effort–an archtop Les Paul style solid body-I went right into the extreme: weird shapes, exotic woods, on-board electronics. At the time it was a purely artistic pursuit, I wanted to make the nicest thing in my mind that I could and I'd try anything. I made a solid ebony flying V; I put all kinds of active tone controls on, things that are common today but confused people then. I suppose you would call some of those guitars failures, but I learned something from almost everything I did, things that still guide me in the guitars I make today. I made about a dozen solid body electrics and they sold OK, though one of the best things about them was that they enabled me to get better woodworking commissions. Designers would see the instruments, appreciate the workmanship and want me to do projects like custom conference tables, desks, and other furniture."

Guitar making continued as an interesting creative outlet for Ted until 1989, when its siren call grew stronger and he began to make the craft his profession. His father's passing in 1992 provided the motivation to focus solely on establishing himself as a luthier. When Ted's father passed, it made him aware of hs own mortality. He decided, if he was going to make hs mark, it was going to have to happen right then. Thus, Ted decided that he would build archtops because they were the guitars he had played most, enjoyed most and that offered him the greatest challenge.

With renewed purpose, Ted plunged into learning everything he could about the sophisticated nuances of archtop guitar construction, applying lessons he'd learned from his woodworking, his earlier guitar efforts and his years of playing jazz. By the time his craftsmanship was beginning to take the turn that would lead to the most rewarding exploration, coupled with a musician's sense of what a guitar really needs to work and the critical eye of a perfectionist, led the way. He experimented with designs and concepts that were ahead of the 80's mindset, finally coming to focus his energies on that demanding, aesthetically beautiful and musically pleasing of instruments: the archtop guitar. He mined the lutherie tradition for its relevant lessons, and later added his own distinctive touches. A distinctive style slowly emerged.

Ted offers three archtop models(Athena | Apollo | Spartan) and a solid body electric model Athena.

Additional Links from Megas Guitars

No comments:

Post a Comment