Idaho Falls man draws satisfaction from building, repairing guitars
Published at | Updated at
IDAHO FALLS — Eric Daw has a short commute.
When it’s time to work, the luthier and Idaho Falls native walks out his back door and through his yard to the shop where he practices his craft. Daw repairs and restores guitars for customers. He also owns his own guitar company, Pin-Up Custom Guitars, and hosts the Fret Files podcast.
On top of that, Daw also is a gigging bluesman who plays shows at local venues like The Gem and Mac N’ Kelly’s. When he’s not engaged in something guitar-related, he’s raising two sons.
That’s a pretty full life that Daw began taking steps toward in his childhood.
“When I was about six or seven years old, I saw ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ with Gary Busey on TV,” Daw told EastIdahoNews.com. “I just fell in love with the music and with the guitar. As soon as I watched that movie, I told my parents ‘I NEED a guitar.’”
Daw got a guitar as a Christmas present and not only set to work learning how to play but also trying to figure out how guitars work.
“I was the kind of kid that liked to take things apart and see how they worked,” he said. “My first guitar was no different. I just wanted to take it apart and see how it worked and tinker with it.”
Daw’s fascination with how electric guitars work led him to develop an interest in repairing guitars and building his own instruments. He began his career working under the tutelage of other luthiers.
“I apprenticed for a few different people early on in my career,” he said. “That’s how a lot of people get into it: by apprenticing for someone.”
“There’s a number of ways you could get into (repairing guitars),” he added. “There are all kinds of schools for it now, more so than when I started out. And there’s so much information available on the internet and on YouTube and with books that you can get a pretty good education about guitars on your own for free.”
Daw’s abilities as a luthier led him to work on guitars for some big stars in rock and blues at one of the most famous music stores in America.
“I lived and worked in Seattle for fifteen years,” Daw said. “I was the in-house luthier for Emerald City Guitars and these touring musicians that would come through Seattle would stop at Emerald City Guitars because it’s a famous guitar store.”
“We had a good reputation as a repair shop, so they would bring any problems they had while they were in town to me and put them on my workbench,” he continued. “So I’ve worked with Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top), Jimmy Vaughan, the Black Crowes and especially a lot of Seattle bands, like Death Cab for Cutie and Pearl Jam.”
Daw’s love for repairing guitars naturally blossomed into a passion for building his own instruments. He sands, paints, assembles and solders together the electronics of the guitars himself. He even winds his own pickups. He said there’s a definite sense of satisfaction derived from every instrument he finishes.
“I build guitars one at a time,” he said. “There is a sense of accomplishment when they’re done and you play that first chord. Then I always think ‘This guitar turned out great! What can I do to make the next guitar better?’ every time.”
“To see guitars that I’ve built being played on stage is really helpful to know what they really sound like,” he added. “Guitars, when they’re played quietly, all kind of sound the same. But when you get up to the kind of volume that you play on stage, you can hear nuances in the tone that you don’t hear at quieter volumes. It’s great to see your handiwork on stage doing what it’s supposed to do and to hear the sound at stage volume.”
You can keep up with what Eric Daw has going on by visiting his website or following him on Instagram. Click here to check out Pin-Up Custom Guitars and click here to listen to The Fret Files podcast.