Design

Locally Crafted Guitars: Behind-the-Scenes

Jason Lee knows that hand-making guitars takes time and extensive knowledge

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About the Tenant

Jason Lee is a luthier, who hand-builds guitars. Jason Lee Guitars is part of the hive-mind at Anchor, a creative community on the South Side that is also home to world-renowned Keeseh Studios.

1. I went to RISD for Industrial Design, which taught me how to make things out of wood and metal. I’ve always had a passion for music. The two never crossed until I took a guitar-building class at Keeseh. It was the most exciting thing I had done. After the class was over, my mentor offered me the chance to collaborate with him. That’s one of the big reasons I stayed in Providence after graduating.

2. This is the first guitar I made. People who build stringed instruments are called luthiers. It’s the perfect combination of my passion for music and my passion for design.

3. These are guitars in progress. I love using my continually growing knowledge – what kinds of wood to use, how they affect the type of sound – and making one guitar for an individual person, then seeing them pick it up and play it, making music out of something I made. Having a custom guitar built is all about knowing the person: who they are, what they want it to sound like, what kind of music they want to make. It’s a very personal process; the guitar should be something it makes sense for that individual to play.

4. Whenever I met somebody new at RISD, I would ask them to write something on my guitar case. It’s four years in the making.