When Rodney Morin was having an old building torn down recently in Bradley, most people saw a large pile of junk wood that needed to hauled away.
Not Kirk Ramsay. He saw guitars.
That’s not surprising. Ramsay, who co-owns Bangor Window and Shade, spends much of his spare time making guitars. And a key element of that pastime is the repurposed wood he uses to make his guitar bodies.
It’s a hobby – and now a part-time side business known as Ramsay guitars – that had its roots about 25 years ago.
“I’ve always been a tinkerer. I liked tearing things apart and putting them together, and I was doing that with guitars,” said Ramsay during a visit to his office at Bangor Window Shade recently, where several of his guitars line the wall (with one less being there after this writer visited and purchased one). “About 15 years ago, I built a walnut Fender Stratocaster style for myself, and a buddy saw it and liked it. So I built another, and the next thing I know, I had a small business going. I’ve sold dozens over the years.
“It’s nice when they sell, but really, this is therapy for me, too. If one doesn’t sell, I just figure, ‘Hey, I’ve got myself another guitar.”
Ramsay, who has lived in Bradley for about 30 years, builds Fender style electrics only. Sometimes he makes his necks and electronics; other times he buys them. He basically goes wherever his creative muse sends him.
But all of his guitars have one thing in common – the repurposed wood, wood that often is more than a century old.
“I started using repurposed wood right from the onset. It find it has a mystique find that wood has a mystique, it’s own character,” he said.
Ramsay, who is self taught, said a lot of his early work was trial and error. The internet, however, soon proved to be a valuable resource, and he learned much there, drew further inspiration.
He also got encouragement from his wife, Laura.
“She is very supportive of me doing this, doesn’t mind the time I take doing it. She appreciates the beauty of the work,” said Ramsay.
A look at Ramsay’s basement shop at his store shows a lot of works in progress. 16 guitar bodies fill a large tabletop. About a dozen necks lie nearby. There’s strips of binding, old guitars he might use parts from or perhaps restore.
And in a corner are beams that he salvaged from the building Morin had torn down – beams that will be part of a future guitar project.
At some point, perhaps when he retires from his full-time job, Ramsay holds to have a bigger shop, and to build even more guitars – to spend even more time creating guitars.
“I really enjoy it. It always makes me happy to see something I’ve created being enjoyed and played by another guitarist,” said Ramsay. “I want to keep doing this for a long time. When somebody asks what guitar is my favorite I’ve built, I always tell them, ‘The next one.’”
For information on Ramsay Guitars, go to ramsayguitars.com.