Welcome to Schaefer Custom Guitars!

I’ve been handcrafting guitars since the early 1970’s. As a small family-run shop, I focus on the customer’s needs from the musician / player’s point of view, and every detail from nut width to choice of wood involves the customer’s input.

Each “model” is only a starting place for the ultimate design of each instrument. Standard construction features include: select aged tone woods, hand-carved, tap tuned top and back, and a high gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish.

See The Models for more details.

My love for the guitar began in my teenage years as a beginning player. As a classical guitar major in college, I held a job working as a repair technician at Rhythm Band Instrument Company in Fort Worth, Texas. My job was to take imported guitars and set them up to play as good as possible. The problem was that many of these guitars would sit out on ships that were on strike, thus absorbing moisture and creating a new set of problems!

I learned a lot about what not to do in making guitars from this experience, and it was during this time (in the early 1970’s) that I actually began building guitars. There was little information on the subject, I had little money to do it and a poor place for a shop (my living room!)
Eventually, I became focused on other interests in my life. I spent some 11 years in the Caribbean teaching scuba diving and freelancing in underwater photography. But after facing possible problems in Mexico for working as an undocumented worker, I realized it was time to get back to the United States to continue what I had started – building guitars!

Throughout my playing career I always wanted a fine archtop, but could never afford one. My interest in building archtops thus began! I view the archtop guitar as a pianist would view a Steinway. I believe any style of music can be performed on an archtop guitar, however, tradition tells us that most of them are played by jazz players. Being from Texas, I have focused on another group of players, the western swing players.

Every detail from nut width to choice of wood involves the customer’s input. I welcome visitors to my shop anytime so if you are in the area please give me a call and come by for a visit!

I currently live in Austin, Texas with my wife, Judy, and we have one son, Alan (pictured below).

I recommend these fine organizations:

Luthiers Interactive of North Texas
Guild of American Luthiers
A.S.I.A – Assn. of Stringed Instrument Artisans