In a quaint little workshop covered in ivy outside of Augusta, Craig Ebers is hard at work. Alone, save for the occasional visit of his wife and two canine companions, Ebers quietly putters around his shop, sliding wood out of storage, shaping it with various tools and methods, and joining pieces together until he finally creates a masterpiece: a one-of-a-kind, custom made instrument. From this little piece of Georgia paradise, music finds its beginning.
Ebers’ interest in instruments began when he was a young rocker in the 70’s, shredding on his electric guitar. His family moved to Athens, Georgia in 1972, and Ebers went on to attend the University of Georgia, during which time he met his wife, Claudia. While studying in the library one day, Ebers became momentarily distracted from his research paper, and looked up in exhaustion. There, above him, was a book by Irving Sloane titled “Classic Guitar Construction.” Intrigued, he grabbed the book and began leafing through it. With every turn of a page, something stirred inside him, and by the time he was finished, a new prospective pathway for his life had opened in his mind.
It just hit me,” says Ebers. “I knew that guitar building was what God intended for me to do.”
Though Ebers chose to not pursue luthier work as a career path out of college, he invested considerable time and finances into learning everything he could about the craft. Later, he started taking classes from the masters, including Michael Gurian, Charles Fox, Kent Everett, and Robbie O’Brien, traveling far and wide to gain as much knowledge as he could. Over time, Ebers fine-tuned his process and abilities, becoming one of the South’s most talented luthiers along the away.
Now settled in his wife’s childhood home in Thomson, Ebers builds his instruments in his cozy, on-site studio, outfitted with everything he needs to create extremely high-quality custom guitars. He begins by talking with his customers about their needs, play style, and design preferences, offering dozens of customization options including a wide variety of wood, shapes, inlay choices, and number of strings. Taking this information, he sources wood options from a luthier supply company, going back and forth with the customer until they determine the exact type of wood, grain and pattern they desire. With the plans set, Ebers begins to build.
“The most important thing to realize,” Ebers explains, “is that building a guitar is not just about taking wood and shaping it into an instrument. It is about taking each particular piece of wood and bringing the voice out of it using a variety of different techniques. That can take quite a long time, but it is what separates the custom instruments from mass-produced ones. You can definitely see, feel, and hear the difference.”
Most pieces take Ebers 3-5 months to build, depending on complexity. Selling his work at festivals and online, Ebers is highly sought after in the musician community, but so far, he is still able to keep up with demand as he crafts exquisite instruments that resonate with an unbelievably soulful sound.
“This is my calling,” says Ebers, “and I enjoy it. It enables me to escape from the day-to-day grind, allowing me to come into my workshop and just put my heart and soul into the work I do in here. I really think the passion I have for the craft comes through in each piece I build.”