Commissioned by Appalachian State University, this electric upright bass is made from reclaimed Cypress barnwood, and features a hand-carved fiddle head fern headstock.
In Sugar Grove, an unincorporated community just a short drive from Boone, you’ll find luthier Chris Capozzoli in his studio, working with reclaimed wood to create aged, one-of-a-kind stringed instruments. Capozzoli’s portfolio includes acoustic and electric guitars, basses, a few mandolins, and even a banjo or two. Each instrument is made-to-order, so no two are alike, and every piece is given strict attention and care.
Capozzoli first began crafting instruments when he was in high school. Shortly after, he moved to Boone to attend Appalachian State University, and also to gain access to woodworking tools and a workspace. Most of his craftsmanship knowledge came from members of his community; Capozzoli was hired at Vaughn Woodworking, and spent about a decade learning the tricks of the trade. Here, he primarily crafted furniture, but Henry Vaughn, the company’s owner, allowed him to make his own projects on the side as well. Through the help of a neighbor who also shared a passion for building guitars, Capozzoli fine-tuned his carpentry skills. In January 2010, Capozzoli left Vaughn Woodworks to set out on his own, kickstarting Capozzoli Guitars.
(Left to right) An ornate electric upright bass commissioned by ASU; Capozzoli works on a custom fiddle featuring an alligator skull; a Brazilian rosewood orchestra model guitar with an inlay of North Carolina's state flower.
Currently, instrument sales account for about one half of his products sold, as he also creates custom furniture for clients. Just recently, he finished a 22-foot bar for Wild Craft Eatery in downtown Boone. Although each guitar is made-to-order, all the musical pieces from the maker's shop share a common feature: they’re each made from reclaimed barnwood from regional farms. “I just love the idea of using reclaimed materials because it already exists and we're not cutting down more forest for it,” he explains. Part of a guitar’s harmonious sound comes from the quality of wood it’s made from, and by using wood that’s already been aged, the instruments get a head start on the process. Barnwood also tends to be higher quality than products on the market now, as it’s aged by over 100 years. “As wood ages, it gets sweeter, and the tone gets richer...you can tell it's the typical sound of an older guitar versus a brand new one,” Capozzoli explains.
The Cassini is the luthier’s most recent design, and one of his favorites. Every guitar is made to order.
Depending on the level of customization and detail, a guitar made by Capozzoli typically costs around $5,000. But the price is well worth the final product. It takes Capozzoli about six weeks to finish a guitar; two weeks are spent shaping and building the instrument, and in the remaining four weeks, the piece ages and acclimates to achieve a perfect sound. Capozzoli only works on one guitar at a time, ensuring each instrument is given his undivided attention. As a musician himself, Capozzoli understands the importance of a finely-tuned tool of the trade. He’s the lead guitarist in the Boone-based rock band Loose Roosters, and uses his own creations on stage.
To learn more about Capozzoli Guitars or inquire about a custom instrument, visit capozzoliguitarcompany.com