OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) — Rick Faris of Faris Guitars has officially been named Kentucky Guitar Forks first luthier in residence.
“Rick is an artist in his own right; [He’s an] award-winning artist, and he’s one of those artists who is shaping Bluegrass in the modern era and also a world-class guitar builder,” said Chris Joslin, the Executive Director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Faris has been handcrafting guitars since 2001 and has received several awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. He won Best New Artist in 2022 and is currently up for Song of the Year.
Faris says his experiences as a growing musician influenced the start of Faris Guitars. The starting pricepoint currently sits at $6500.
“We’re working on getting an affordable line for musicians. Which is—that’s the reason I started building. I was a musician struggling and could not afford a better guitar , so I started building them. So, that’s really close to my heart,’ said Faris.
Crafting one Faris guitar can take an estimated 80–200 hours to complete, depending on customers’ design requests. Faris says a design he describes as “neck tattoos” can require the most time.
“It’s like an old gunsmithing, inlaying technique that is very labor intensive.. it’s a major investment in time, and [they] can be functional pieces of artwork,’ said Faris.
He says the first guitar he tried the technique on belonged to his father, Bob Faris.
The Kentucky Guitar Works will offer instrument-building apprenticeship programs, workshops and also restore traditional bluegrass instruments. Faris had his first learning experience when he was 16-years-old.
“There were lots of mistakes made, and mistakes teach a lot. You know you learn nothing by building a lightbulb the first time,” said the luthier.
Joslin says Faris’s expertise will introduce local and regional luthiers to the bluegrass music capital of the world.
“They learn from each other. They wanna work with the best. So this is really gonna help with the process,” said Joslin.
Officials say Kentucky Guitar Works will be able to house up to 4 luthiers in residence.
Kentucky Guitar Works will be the first of its kind in Western Kentucky, with a scheduled opening of January 2024.