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Joe Till Guitars - Handmade in California
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I didn't just wake up one morning 19 years ago and decide to build guitars. No, it was well past noon. I'd been up for hours and had already been to the Simi Swapmeet where I found an imported "Flying V" with a broken bolt-on neck - for $25. - with a real Gibson case!
I bought it because it was loaded with upgraded hardware including Grover tuners and Seymour Duncan humbuckers, all of which I planned to use on other guitars in the future.

But, when I got back to my woodshop I wondered how hard it would be to shape a new replacement neck. About 5 minutes later I had my answer: Not too hard. I just took my Surform tool, a spokeshave and a rasp and I gnawed away at a piece of scrap wood until it was round. But, I thought, rather than make a replacement neck for a meaningless import, I might as well design and build a complete guitar from the ground, up. Three days and no sleep later TG-100 no. 001 was playin' the blues.

Now, by this time - 1996, I'd had my own dedicated cabinet shop for about ten years. Most of my work filtered down to me from neighboring shops who only built square, simple cabinets. They would send me the weird stuff - angular and curved things because the easy jobs paid too well for them to waste their time on anything else. That was about when I started developing my own philosophy about craftsmanship (including musicianship), which is basically that I think every craftsman has an obligation (at least to himself) to continually push his craft to the limits of his ability. A philosophy completely at odds with the times, it seems. But I stick with it to this day.

Here's an unusual fact: All male Tills are born wearing nailbags and holding Skilsaws. My earliest memories are of my dad sawing away in the garage while my brothers took turns holding up long pieces of plywood as it came off the radial arm saw outfeed table. Sternly barked orders of "Keep it level!" and "Don't pull!" echo in my ears, still. Hard to do while walking backwards over piles of laundry. But that was when my destiny as a woodworker appeared to be set. Other strong influences followed. One was a field trip to the Pacific Design Center in Santa Monica back in high school ('76) to see a woodworking exhibit. There were fully functional bicycles made of wood! Incredible stuff. High art, for sure.

And there was my friend Paul Carpenter who could make a piece of wood do anything he told it to. Flowing designs with all kinds of different colored woods. You should see his stuff today. He's up in Eureka, Ca.

guitars also caught my eye back then. The perfect mix of beautiful woods, style, tone and playability. Pure creativity. All handmade, too. Everytime I see Rick Turner I tell him so.

Having been born in 1959, I didn't get to actively participate in "The Sixties", but I had a good ringside seat, thanks to my older sisters and brothers. We lived in what was then a small, isolated community in Malibu Canyon , just a fun 10 minute ride from the beach. Surfers, hippies, cows and coyotes. Heaven.

To be continued...




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