Scott MacDonald - Custom Guitars and Expert Repairs -by Kevin McLeod
Walking into the reception area of Scott B. MacDonald's workshop I am always struck by how Scott makes me feel welcome and gives me his complete attention as I describe whatever my latest guitar problem is and wait for his advice. He'll bring the guitar over to his workbench, check it out, and offer suggestions. The room is well lit, there are a few comfortable chairs, and an old ice-cream parlor type stool reserved for customers picking up guitars - Scott wants you to feel at home when you try out your new or repaired instrument.
Scott has been building and repairing guitars for 16 years in Huntington, Long Island. He has become well known for his custom guitars, vintage instrument restorations and repairs. He has clients all over the world. Having been authorized by Gibson, Fender, Martin, Taylor, Ovation, Gretch, and Tacoma for repair and warranty work, his workshop is always filled with guitars. He has a knack for addressing the underlying causes of guitar problems quickly. I've taken an electric guitar to Scott thinking I needed to spend money on new pickups only to have Scott say, "I'll put new pickups in if you want, but I bet those pickups are fine and this wiring is what's killing your sound." Scott was right - he re-did the wiring and the pickups sounded great.
Although his extensive knowledge of both vintage guitars and modern guitar building suggests a man who works because he loves instruments, Scott told me there was something else that he found even more satisfying, "It's not really about guitars, it's about people." He means it. When he says he builds "custom guitars", he's talking about instruments designed around the needs, spirit and personality of the musician, not just two or three designs that he cranks out over and over. Scott always strives to make a unique instrument for the PERSON who orders it. He insists on getting to know as much about each customer and their music as he can before design and construction begins. In the end, each instrument is as unique as its owner. He considers the whole personality of the musician ordering a guitar.
I'm a guitar player. I like guitars. I like it best when I pick up a guitar and it sounds and feels as good as it looks. Music is born when the right instrument reaches the hands of a creative musician. This is why I've become such a fan of Scott's custom guitars. I haven't had Scott build me one yet (although I do see a custom electric in my future), but I have played a few that he's built for others. They look and feel like something special, they sound great, and in the cases of a few LI musicians I know who own his guitars the instruments genuinely suit their music and playing styles. I think Scott gets high marks for hitting his goal of constructing guitars that fit the personality of the player.
Scott says that he's seen tremendous growth in his business in the past few years as a result of the internet. I think Scott's reputation for meticulous work and attention to detail might have something to do with it too, but he has recently re-vamped his website, customguitars.com. In addition to seeing photos of some of his custom guitars potential customers can now hear samples of what they sound like. They can also see video clips of Lucinda Williams and her band making good use of the Resonator Electric Guitars Scott made for Lucinda and her lead guitarist.
Scott builds custom instruments for musicians who play large venues and for musicians who play bars and coffee houses. He gives everyone the same respect and attention. Scott says it usually takes about a year to make an electric and fourteen months to make an acoustic. His prices are very competitive so before you shell out a lot of money for an assembly line instrument you might want to consider getting a guitar hand-made with your personality and playing habits in mind instead.