A little about myself, Steven Fragale and 20 Grit Guitars.
While living in Baltimore and attending the Maryland Institute College of Art I received my BFA in sculpture and went for a masters degree in art eduction. During the transition between BFA and MAT I met Rich Lipscher, a professor and chair of animation at the school and a fantastic guitar builder. I spent more time in his basement then focusing on grad school. I was learning to build archtops and teach 8th grade level math to 4th graders using art. When I was asked by my advising faculty if my heart was in education I knew I was in trouble. I had great marks, A’s some B’s but not bad for 400 hours during one semester committed to guitar making. When told I would need to put down my chisels to teach the next semester and concentrate so they could really see what I could do. I most graciously thanked the staff for all they had done and politely expressed to them that I would show them what I was capable of, I left the program unwilling to stop for even one second the art I love.
I continued making guitars on my own, was promised a great job with PRS with one stipulation, I had to sand for a little while until the new factory was ready. After 9 months of sanding top coat I left to continue the dream. I worked with my wonderful girlfriend Kelley in our small one bedroom apartment in Annapolis. The balcony housed a small bandsaw and drill press, the living room a bench and hand tools. While Kelley doesn’t physically build the instruments she works just as hard supporting me.
A year ago now, seems like 10, my father said that if we moved back to New Jersey to save some money we could convert the basement to a full working shop. After investing in tooling, spray room, CNC machine, storage, wood, etc… I haven’t saved a dollar but the experience thus far with my father hanging out in the shop keeping tools sharp, has been the best experience a father and son could have.
With my family behind me and Kelley and her wonderful family I have had amazing opportunities. Within one year of moving to New Jersey, the company became officially an LLC, a website went up, advertising started, I was invited to build a sonic sitka guitar for the Newport show in Miami and for other shows as well. I have had several orders and look forward to making so many more. Thanks to everyone who has so graciously helped this become real.
Pictures ©2009 Steven Fragale
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