DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – Nick Fanelli wanted a slide guitar but rather than buy one he made it himself. That was the start of Fanelli’s foray into the custom guitar world three years ago and he hasn’t looked back since.
Fanelli owns American Ax on Cedar Street in Dobbs Ferry in which he sells his own line of custom-made guitars.
“The whole point of American Ax was to build guitars with all American parts,” Fanelli said. “Everything else is made overseas and I decided to give people the option to buy something that was made here.”
Fanelli says he makes careful decisions about every single part of the instrument, from the perfect pickups to the 18 coats of lacquer he applies by hand to ensure shine. Even the color of the guitar is a careful process. Fanelli’s newest guitar is painted with a shade of car paint used in 1963 Ford Thunderbirds.
“There’s a huge quality different between something made in a factory versus something made by hand,” he said. “The quality doesn’t even compare.”
But quality comes with a price -- approximately $2,800 each. Fanelli says many people, especially those just learning to play guitar, tend to buy cheaper instruments. So he supplements his sales with repair work.
“I’ve had customers come in, see a guitar and say ‘Hold on, I’m going home to pay the mortgage then I’ll come back,’” Fanelli said.
Fanelli will soon start selling his guitars in select high-end music stores in Greenwich, Conn. and New York City.