- Associated Press - Saturday, February 1, 2014

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) - If Jack Moody isn’t strumming some jazzy tune on one of his guitars, it’s probably because he’s out in the garage making a new one from scratch.

“I’ve got three granddaughters. I fix up guitars for them,” Moody said in the garage-turned-shop of his Loveland home. “From scratch I’ve made about 10.”

The guitars he makes are in the style of the classic arch-top guitars that date back to the 1930s. “In the big band era,” he said.

“I started making guitars by repairing them, until I learned everything on them,” Moody said.

He is a retired tool and die maker and as such was able to pick up on the craft of designing high-quality acoustic-electric guitars. Along with the six-stringed instruments, he’s also fashioned bows, ventriloquist dummies, figurines, rubber band guns and much more.

“I’m the kind of person who won’t throw anything away. I made this ventriloquist dummy out of a single block of wood,” he said.

When he retired, he disposed of a lot of his tools, so that he wouldn’t be tempted to go back to that kind of work. But he ended up making his own tools himself. He fashioned tools out of wood to measure the thickness and arch of what will become a guitar.

Moody starts the process of guitar-making by ordering the wood, making certain it’s of the highest quality.

“Every part of the spruce has a difference in tone, just like the human voice,” he said.

Moody soaks a long piece of wood in water, then warps it into the shape of the guitar siding, using a heated piece of metal that he fixed to a blow torch and a vice. He then places the siding in a mold, which he also made himself.

He then cuts out the top and back of the guitar and uses a drill press to set the depth of the curves for the arched top. The arch in most guitars of this style is supported by glued-in pieces of wood, but Moody tediously carves the supports right out of the back of the arched guitar front, using a chisel.

Moody smooths out the curves, puts in the floating or built-in pickups, volume and tone knobs and cable input. Next, the tops and bottoms are glued and clamped onto the sides, using clamps he made himself.

In all, Moody estimates each guitar takes upward of 40 hours of work and at least a week to complete.

He hasn’t sold a guitar yet or made one for a non-family member - but he said he wouldn’t be able to let one go for less than $4,000.

Moody said if someone wanted one of his guitars, the price would depend on how much body work they’d want and what kind of wood it would be used.

Moody never took formal guitar lessons but picked things up from great musicians he’s played with. He belongs to the Catfish Jazz Society, has jammed with some of the leading jazz musicians, and has a guitar signed by greats like Willie Nelson, Jerry Reed and Ray Benson. He’s also taught an advanced-level music course at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

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Information from: Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, http://www.reporterherald.com/

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