Industry News -Toronto Company wants to be Canada's Custom Guitar Shop
Industry News -Toronto Company wants to be Canada's Custom Guitar Shop
Industry News -Toronto Company wants to be Canada's Custom Guitar Shop

The first guitar Tim Frank and his brothers made was during their university days, around the time they converted a spare bedroom into a makeshift repair shop.

“Everybody told us it would be bad,” Tim said. “It turned out OK, but not good enough to prevent us from cannibalizing it,” adding that it was used to create later iterations.

That was then. Now Tim, Nick and Jon have their own workshop in east Toronto called Frank Brothers Guitar Company. It’s here that custom guitars with signature, eye-catching designs are made from raw lumber.

Everything is made from scratch except certain after market parts like bridges and tuners, said Tim, 29.

The company, roughly four years old, is still young enough to be devising market strategies to reach a broader clientele, which can be a tall order when factoring in the monopoly major brands like Gibson and Fender have on the industry. But Tim and Nick said they aren’t competing: they’re focused on honing their craft.

To stand out, they aspired to create a guitar unlike the rest, Tim said, one that would simultaneously further Toronto as a city home to a thriving luthier scene.

“There’s nothing really out there quite like it,” Tim said. “It was natural for us to design and do our own thing,” adding that they wanted to steer clear of making replicas of established brands. “It’s not like an art or ergonomic guitar. The design has a vintage or retro esthetic to it, which I think people are comfortable with.”

The guitar is played by musicians like Daniel Romano and James Bay. Patrons can customize things like wood type, neck shape, finish and electronics.

“Word-of-mouth is always important,” said Nick, 29. “We’re building our player roster. More and more people reach out to us because they’ve seen an artist playing one or they’ve heard about us through a friend.

“We want people to be Frank Brothers players.”

Music runs deep in their family and Tim suspects this has helped with their appeal, as well. Their grandfather was a notable violist and Jim Frank, their father, a recording engineer in Toronto.

The core materials of the guitar are Mahogany, Macassar Ebony and Maple, Tim said, and the wood, which comes from all around the world, including some domestic hardwoods, is ethically sourced.

The guitars are chambered, making them a lighter, he said, and an arch along the top and back of the guitar, along with tapered edges, makes it well-balanced and comfortable.

“They’ve been described as having a lot of sustain, warmth and openness,” Tim said.

The guitars, which start at about $4,000, take about 12 weeks to complete. This time frame includes the finishing stage, which is all done by hand, making it the most time consuming stage, he said.

“We’re in here six, seven days a week,” Tim said. “We’re trying to get our name out there and we’re up against brands that have been in existence for 50 to 100 years.”

Their highest-end guitar takes roughly 70 hours of labour to make from start to finish, Nick said.

Having the artistic licence to create what they want without limitations is something Tim and his brothers wanted early on, he said.

“We really enjoy it, and there aren’t many electric guitar makers in Canada. We want to represent Toronto. We’re hoping to be the Canada custom shop for guitars.”

Article provided by The Toronto Star, Toronto Company wants to be Canada's Custom Guitar Shop, December 27, 2017.

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