guitar makers, craftsmen, Manuel-Patterson

Craftsman Week: Meet 2 men on a guitar-making mission

Folsom, LA (WGNO) - If you've ever dreamt of owning a custom-made guitar, Joe Manuel and Phil Patterson can make that wish come true. The two musicians-turned-craftsmen spend months building beautiful instruments and coordinating each step of the process with buyers in the New Orleans area and from around the world.

You might find Phil fretting a fingerboard while Joe is adjusting a side-bender. Their tiny home workshop in Folsom is filled with sounds of sanding, filing and sometimes, guitar music. But most of their playing happens at a Covington studio -- where the duo gives guitar lessons, often to people who own one or more more of their guitars.

"Each guitar is unique, and each guitar is different," says Joe.

"And each guitar represents a person because this is 'so and so's guitar,' not just 'the next one.'"

He takes pride in the fact that when he and Phil are creating an instrument, they are able to pay attention to every detail -- unlike the big factories, where assembly lines mean that whatever wood comes out of the box is certain to go into the next guitar.

"If we don't like a piece of wood, it goes in the scrap pike," explains Joe, who has been playing the guitar since he was a preteen. He quit lessons though, after a teacher refused to teach him a rock-and-roll rift instead of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Manuel-Patterson guitars have shipped to Australia, Japan and all over Europe. The tailor-made musical treasures start at $4,000.

"We're a microbrewery of guitars -- that's what we do. We do smaller amounts and there's a lot of attention to detail," says Phil. The entire process takes about six months from start to finish.

Customers such as John Greene seek out these craftsmen -- who have built around 175 guitars to date --  for their willingness to cater to special requests such as exquisite designs.

Greene owns two Manuel-Patterson creations; one has a neck featuring symbols from prehistoric, Native American pottery. Greene is an archaeologist who wanted his work reflected on his guitar.

What fuels these two North Shore craftsmen? They're certain to leave a lasting musical mark on the planet, thanks to the perfect choreography of their craft.