My name is Ryan Gerber, and I live in northeast Ohio. I have been building acoustic steel strings guitars professionally since 2012. What began as a hobby to take up spare time, quickly became an obsession from which I could not pull myself away. I slaved away in basement workshops, giving my attention to the craft of building guitars, all the while doing my best to make each guitar better than the last.
Building each guitar better than the last, will always be my goal. Luthiery is a lifetime of learning, and I am grateful to be on that journey. It is a worthy goal, a great challenge, and brings incredible fulfillment.
I now build guitars in my workshop at home, with my two kids always begging to come in the shop and "see what I'm doing". I hope to inspire great things in both of them, as they grow their little minds and bodies into creative beings. For me, it really doesn't get any better than being able to join the family for breakfast, make my coffee, and then head into the shop for a good day of work.
There are more guitar makers today than ever before. The market is saturated with incredibly talented, devoted builders. Each with their own spark of creativity, and voice speaking through their guitar. It is my humble pursuit to add something unique and special to the world of handmade guitars.
I love the ARTISTIC element that comes with building guitars. There is opportunity abound, for making something that is visually appealing, and interesting. I always push myself to make each guitar as beautiful as it can be. My guitars lean towards the modern aesthetic, however, I aim to stay within the boundaries of elegant, classy, and not overly flashy. I prefer to use only wood for ornamentation, and stay away from shell. Staying within this framework, I constantly push myself in the search of new designs which will compliment the beautiful sound and shape of the guitar.
WORKMANSHIP is very important to me. I enjoy the challenge of clean, tidy construction, in every facet of the guitar. I also enjoy the use of traditional hand tools, such as hand planes which are used for the sizing of the soundboard and back, and chisels and files which are used to shape and form braces, the bridge, and the neck. All of my rosettes are made by hand, cut and fitted without the use of CNC. I often find myself picking up the hand saw instead of going to the bandsaw for a cut, or grabbing the block plane instead of going to the belt sander. Not only is it more enjoyable, but often times it is more efficient as well.
Last but not least, the CONSTRUCTION of the guitar, and all of the components that make up the final instrument, are of primary importance. The process in its' entirety, is too vast to cover completely. But here are few things that I do, which contribute to the final outcome:
- Quality of materials is the first place to start. I am very picky about using the best materials that I can source. I prefer quartersawn tops and backs, and shy away from materials that are flashy but not quarter sawn. I would rather use a back set that is comparably less interesting to look at, but has the edge in long term stability and consistency in stiffness across the width of the plate.
- I use triple laminated sides and solid linings. The slightly heavier rim, is incredibly stiff and rigid. This accomplishes two things: improves volume and sustain, and creates a stronger foundation for a long last guitar.
- I believe in voicing the back in a way that contributes to the sound of the guitar. In the "active back" versus "passive back" debate, I fall on the "active back" side of the story. I carve the back braces to add a bell like tone to the back, which creates a more complex overtone structure to the sound. The back plate itself is quite thin, depending on the species of wood in use, and this also contributes to responsive nature of the guitar.
- I use a combination of traditional X-brace soundboard construction, with a lattice braced lower bout. I have tried various different bracing patterns over the years, and for me, this is the combination that creates the most powerful, satisfying sound. The soundboard is dimensioned to a specific deflection, then subsequently tuned to a harmonious set of tones. This process is what establishes the general tone of each guitar, and much time is devoted to getting the most out of every soundboard as is possible.
- Traditional hide glue is used for all of the soundboard related pieces, including braces, bridge plate, and bridge. Elsewhere on the guitar, high grade structural epoxy is used for laminating sides, gluing the fretboard, laminating the headstock veneers, and gluing the braces to oily woods like cocobolo. Modern wood glues are used in other areas of the construction like neck blocks, linings, and binding.
- I use an all Stainless Steel two way truss rod, and two carbon fiber reinforcement rods which improve the stiffness to weight ratio, as well as strengthen the vulnerable headstock joint.