Richard Kluttz is well-known in Concord; he and his wife, Marie have been the owners of Frames and Art by Kluttz on Church Street for more than 30 years. In between framing and customizing items for local homes and businesses, Kluttz has another passion: He builds acoustic guitars from scratch.
He became interested in building about two to three years ago. "We have friends in Virginia who are phenomenal players," said Kluttz. "A few of them build guitars, and my wife told me I could do this, I had been framing for 33 years. She said that I knew the wood and the finishes as well as anyone.
"I started from scratch, I hand carve the necks, do my own inlays and everything is all wood. I really enjoy it because I have a feel for the wood and the grain and how it should be done. The Internet and books are a great source," said Kluttz.
He said guitar builders are known as luthiers and counts himself fortunate to have several famous ones as friends and advisers.
"Wayne Henderson and Spencer Strickland are known guitar builders throughout the world," he said. "If I have a problem, I can call one of them." Henderson has built guitars for Eric Clapton and is also a well-known musician in his own right.
Kluttz said the art of building the instrument is very precise. "There are generally two types of guitars, the OM, which is smaller and the Dreadnought. I use a lot of exotic woods such as Indian rose wood or black wood; which I order from California. I also use shells and make my own rosettes. I feel like if you are going to build, it should be from scratch and not a kit. When I built my first guitar, a friend of mine, John Sturgel, who has built guitars for Johnny Cash, told me he would put his name on the guitar; I knew I was headed in the right direction. I felt really good about that, and he encouraged me to continue."
Kluttz said there are many things that go into building the perfect guitar for someone. Older woods are better for building because they have time to cure. Currently, he has two under construction.
"Guitars are meant to be played, however," he said. "I don't want them sitting around. I have no interest in selling them in a music store. I want them to be customized to the person who will appreciate them. They can look great, but they need to be able to play.
"I want them to be played, they can look great but they need to be able to function as well."
Caston guitars are the brand name he choose; it's named after the Kluttz's grandson and his wife's grandfather. "When we picked the name, we thought it had a nice sound to it. The name will be engraved on all the inlays, which are done in genuine pearl or abalone."
Prices range from $1,800 to $3,000, depending on materials and customizations. "I do it alone, no assistance."