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Guitar Town

A look inside a guitar factory in Holly Springs

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Patience is a virtue at McInturff Guitars. Located in Holly Springs, the manufacturer is staffed with craftspeople who go to great lengths to create a world-class line of musical instruments. At any given time, there are up to 33 guitars in production.

From the moment the wood is prepped in the drying room to the moment the finished product is placed into a case and shipped out to the dealer, a McInturff guitar takes nearly a month to complete. The instruments range in price from the almost affordable $2,000 Polaris model to the top of the line Taurus Custom that has a retail list price of $10,000.

Vice President Tracy McInturff shows off the factory with pride to any guests who seem interested in the company's process. That said, some points along the manufacturing trail are completely "proprietary" and were off limits to photographs. McInturff explains that many of the techniques they use are unique to the company and "people are already starting to rip off" their ideas.

1. Drying

Before anything else is done, moisture must be removed from the wood. Slabs of maple and mahogany wait (for up to two weeks) in a tiny drying area equipped with an electric space heater. Here, Tracy McInturff picks out a piece of mahogany that will be drilled for hardware and cut to shape.

2. Carving

The Pentagraphic Copy Carver is a wood-shaving device that creates the contours of the guitars' body surface. The Copy Carver is one of the few time-saving machines used at TCM Guitars; it can actually carve two surfaces simultaneously.

3. Gluing the body

Tracy McInturff takes a body and neck and "marries" the two before continuing. The pieces are glued, not bolted, together to complete the marriage.

4. Adjusting the frets

Keith McMurtry makes adjustments to the fret board. This board was a custom design made especially for a model known as the TCM Limited Edition Forum Guitar, which McInturff displayed for their guests at an open house held earlier this fall.

5. Sanding

David Fry gives a guitar a final sanding before it heads into the spray room.

6. Spraying

The spray room is actually designed for and is large enough for a car. But today the walls are flanked with several guitars in various stages of the staining process. Each guitar will get treated to a total of 13 coats, adding up to a grand total of one 100th of an inch of stain.

7. Buffing

After a protective coat of Polyurethane is applied, Scott Osment uses sandpaper and a buffer to take out any blemishes that may be present. If needed, the process is repeated over and over until the surface is perfect.

8. Finishing

This is the finishing room where McInturff believes "the magic takes place." It's where, after almost 30 days of work the guitar becomes a guitar. The hardware, tuning pegs, the bridge and all the wiring and electronics are installed, then plugged in and played. After every fret, every possible note is plucked and checked, the work is done. EndBlock

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