Boonville man builds guitar for the best

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Jacob Harper has been a musician since he was little.

After all these years, he can still strum a few chords, but his talents are mostly buried in lumber in his backyard shop where he makes music come to life.

“Only a few neighbors know what I do,” said Harper with a smile. “There is a weird guy walking out of a shop at all hours, sometimes in a paint suit, sometimes covered with saw dust.”

He has been building custom guitars since 2006, and he can turn about 25 a year. It takes him anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months to make a guitar from scratch.

“It seems like year after year I can’t believe what I’m doing,” Harper said.

A recent request from a rock and roll god tops almost all the other builds. Thanks to his work, an icon has a piece of Boonville, Indiana.

If you know your music legends, you have probably heard of the band ‘Rush.’

They have a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and now guitarist Alex Lifeson has a spot for one Harper masterpiece. A mutual friend in the music industry hooked the two up.

In a grainy Facebook video, Lifeson gives the Harper a test drive.

“Hey Jacob, thank you so much, this guitar is mind-blowing, I’m speechless, I can’t believe how beautiful it is,” he said.

“Very cool,” said Harper. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that I’m building for some of my heroes.”

The attention to detail is unmatched. The fret inlays are interpretations of ‘Rush’ albums. The pick guard, adorned in ‘blah blah blah,’ is a nod to Lifeson’s Hall of Fame speech. Of course, ‘Harper’ is scripted on the head.

“I try to keep it deep down inside that I’m a fanboy and I’ve got a business to run, but I’m not kidding anybody,” laughed Harper.

There are millions who make music, maybe thousands who manufacture it, but only a select few can craft the finest.

“It validates a lot of your hard work,” said Harper. “It’s not hard when it’s fun and when you’re inspired.”

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(This story was originally published August 15, 2018)

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