It’s no secret that we here at Mojotone absolutely adore our customers, their work ethic, and their creativity. In fact, it’s that very work ethic and creativity that keeps pushing us to do what we do year after year. We love seeing people take an interest in something, learn as much as they can about it, problem solve, and persevere.
Today we’re talking to a seriously gifted craftsman by the name of James Gregg (IG Handle @greggguitars). James is one of those people who was self-taught, and became a tech guru out of necessity. He took an interest in guitar early on and learned how to get what he needed out of his sound by figuring out how to modify his gear. Now he is what I can only describe as an all-around guitar tech wizard whose power knows no limits.
As always, let’s start from the beginning…
“My dad played pedal steel guitar professionally so as a small child, I got drug to the rehearsal hall quite frequently and that piqued my interest in music in general. My first instrument was guitar (mostly because my dad would never let me touch his steel guitar). I also play bass and drums but those came later. My strongest artist influences would have to be Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs, Brent Mason, Brad Paisley, and Vince Gill.”
I’m already enjoying how this triumphant tale leads off. But Gregg is skilled in so many different aspects of the craft – carpentry, luthiery, electronics, etc. – so how did he get from point A to point B?
“Well, this journey is far from a straight path… Back in high school, I started going to pawn shops and finding old guitars that I could repair and flip for a profit. I went to college for music but like many musicians, I dropped out when I got a real gig. I started playing full time professionally in Branson, MO and needed a good tone at low volumes. That drove me to start tinkering with amps. From there, I started building my own amps to create the sound I wanted at the volume I needed. After the show ended in Branson, I worked as a full-time guitar repair man until I went on the road as a guitar tech for the Josh Abbott Band. For a while I tried to do both amps and guitars (all while touring) and that got to be too much. I had to choose what my true passion was, and I ended up focusing on custom crafted guitars. Eventually, I had to take the leap of faith to pursue Gregg Guitars full-time if it was going to be successful.”
Hold up real fast, somewhere in there he mentions having been a touring guitar tech; I need to know more about this…
“I was a full-time touring tech for Josh Abbott Band for about 4-years. I’ve done contract consulting for specific shows for several other outfits over the years: Eli Young Band, Pat Green, and Aaron Watson to name a few. Road life has some glamor to it – you get to do big festivals, award shows, and night shows. But you spend a lot of time away, the hours are odd, and there is a lot of downtime between things. I actually taught myself to wind guitar pickups on the road out of sheer boredom.”
You all seriously need to check out James’ social media. He posts some really great content that can be extremely helpful to all of our fellow DIY-ers out there. You truly will not regret checking him out – I’m going to post some links and handles at the end of the article so please stick around until the end.
James has had the honor of building guitars for some of his biggest musical idols; Vince Gill and Brad Paisley to name a couple. He noted that it was pretty hard to beat watching Vince Gill play something that he had built for him on the Opry Stage…and I believe that’s probably a modest way to describe that feeling!
Some of you may know by now that I always like to ask our subjects how they break through periods of subdued creativity.
So what obstacles does James face in the midst of all this extremely cool work he does, and how does he overcome those obstacles?
“When I work too many hours to meet deadlines or my wife forces me to do the books or invoicing for the business, my creativity can definitely get drained. To break through it, it usually helps to take a break and actually play my guitar instead of focusing on the technical or business aspects of it all. It can also help to pour a cocktail (or three).”
You’re darn right, man. I feel like we’ve covered a lot of good ground here, so let’s figure out what James has in store for 2022 before we say “tata for now!”
“2022 is definitely a year of growing into my new shop and finding out ways to be more efficient without compromising the quality that is associated with the Gregg Guitars Brand. On the personal side, I’d like to find more balance with my life. Get outdoors more. Use my road bike that has been sitting idle for far too long.”
As I said further up the page, James is a seriously gifted craftsman and I promise it behooves you all to go give him a follow on social media. I guarantee you’ll learn something on day 1! He posts lots of great videos, photos, quick tutorials, you name it.
Thanks for stopping in and don’t forget to check out these links: