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GUITAR MAN

U.P. instrument maker sells work to the stars

April 28, 2012
By TERRI CASTELAZ - Staff Writer (tcastelaz@ironmountaindailynews.com) , Iron Mountain Daily News

HERMANSVILLE - The sweet sounds of success can be heard at Neville Guitars of Hermansville.

Owners, Jeff and Danielle Neville are now experiencing the rewards of their hard work and recent trip to the 4 Amigos Guitar Show in Nashville.

"This was a huge boost for the business," says Jeff Neville. "Right now it has sky-rocketed to a level we never dreamed of."

Article Photos

Jeff Neville examines a guitar neck in his Hermansville shop. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo)

The event brought in hundreds of talented musicians in the industry. Some of the big name artists that stopped by to check out Neville Guitars included Vince Gill; Wade Hayes; Jason Jordan of Love & Theft Band and Academy of Country Music Duo of the Year nominee; Brady Seals of Little Texas; and Robert Arthur, songwriter and band member of Brad Paisley; and Jeff Bates.

"We met a lot of great guitar pickers and they all were extremely impressed with the quality, workmanship, sound and action of our guitars," said Neville. "It was great to watch Vince Gill picking on our guitar."

The show has helped raise Neville Guitars to the next level, from the constant orders to them being played on national TV. Jason Jordan, new owner of a Neville Guitar, will perform with his guitar at the Academy of Country Music Awards this Sunday.

Robert Arthur, who has been friends with Paisley for 19 years and former bandmate, took his new guitar on tour. As a result, Paisley was so impressed, he also placed an order for a Neville guitar.

"Robert also showed it to Paisley's guitar tech, Chad Weaver and he was blown away and suggested we show it to a friend of his named Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones," Neville said.

The Nevilles just received a call from Gary Hooker, who also put in his order. Hooker has been in Paisley's band (lead rhythm) for 12 years.

"It is just truly unbelievable," said Neville.

Another well-known artist placing an order is Red Voelkart, Merle Haggard's lead guitarist.

"Nashville was overwhelming," said the Nevilles. "We met a lot of new people who were amazed by our work including Ron Miller, who is a proud owner of a new Neville guitar."

They have dubbed Miller as their new sales representative in Nashville.

"He has been a huge help," says Neville. "He already has our guitars in two stores in Nashville, Rock Block and Shiloh Music and is working on Sam Ash Music."

Miller is well-known in Nashville and is currently hooking Neville Guitars up with Mark Matejka, long time member of the Charlie Daniels Band and now with Lynyrd Skynyrd since 2006; Tony King of Brooks & Dunn, and Hunter Carmichael with John Berry's band.

"Everyone seems to be impressed that just me and my wife can make a beautiful guitar right from the raw log to the finished product," Neville said.

Neville explains that every step of the process is all done by hand, except drying the wood, which is kiln-dried at Whiten's Dry Kiln of Hermansville.

"It could take up to a month to complete a guitar," he said. "We use only nitrocellullose lacquer finishes, which takes time to cure before wet sanding and buffing to a mirror finish."

When asked what sets Neville Guitars apart from others, Neville believes it's the choice of wood, electronics, meticulous attention to detail and superb playability that goes into every handcrafted guitar to give it that tone that cannot be duplicated by a mass-produced guitar.

"Our goal is to produce a beautiful, handcrafted guitar from the finest ingredients," they said.

Since the age of 16, Neville developed a passion for woodworking. That passion took him to building custom cabinets.

In 2008, he put down the hammer on his cabinet business and dedicate his time to building the tele-style electric guitar.

"Guitars have always been a part of my life and building them is what I always wanted to do - just never totally dove into it," says Neville, who has been playing in several locally-successful bands for 30 years.

He learned the craft of building guitars on his own without any technical training.

"I have taught my wife many of my skills and she works hand in hand with me," he said. "She's a big part of Neville Guitars."

They started out only making guitar bodies and selling them unfinished on eBay since 2008. It wasn't until 2009 when they started to build the complete guitar.

The Nevilles have produced more than 450 guitar bodies and sold them in 17 different countries and nearly every state in the United States.

Neville Guitars is currently teaming up with Valve Train Amps of Florida. Not only will they be selling their guitars in their store, but will be doing the NAMM show with them in Nashville in July.

In addition to the Nashville trip, Neville Guitars are gaining recognition internationally as well with several orders in Australia and Europe.

The Nevilles are also designing and building guitars for local artists including Kevin Richtig of Next Myle, and Bob Hostetler of Bad Axe Rodeo.

Anyone can check out Neville guitars being played in the local area by Adam Mullins of Neon DeTour, Jalaine Bellmore and Dave Malone of Crossroads. And of course you can check out the guitar-maker himself performing with the band Hot Rod Express.

Terri Castelaz's e-mail address is tcastelaz@ironmountaindailynews.com.

 
 

 

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