Meet Jordan McConnell, the Winnipeg luthier who handcrafts guitars


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Jordan McConnell builds guitars for a living.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/01/2015 (3052 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


Jordan McConnell builds guitars for a living.

In a small backyard shed off Henderson Highway, the luthier handcrafts his guitars at a painstaking pace — the waiting list for one of his custom creations currently sits at about three years.

“The final product is an accumulation of a bunch of tiny little parts,” says McConnell, 33. “So you’re adding up all these tiny little steps, building towards the goal of having the perfect guitar, which you never get, but that’s what you’re always shooting for.”

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jordon McConnell tries out one of his custom made acoustic guitars.

McConnell makes both acoustic and hollow-body electric guitars. The average price is about $12,000. Everything is handmade in his shop. While the sound quality is the first thing he works on — going so far as to have clients record their playing style so he can choose the type of wood — he wants the instrument to be beautiful.

“It’s very important to me how the curves all relate to each other, and the proportions,” he says.

“There are so many little lines that connect, and I want each one to join perfectly and if I’m working on it and that doesn’t happen, I’ll take it off and redo it. I’ll cut the thing right away and do it until I get it perfect.”

McConnell orders wood from all over the world, although exactly where is a secret; rosewood from India, ebony from Africa, spruce from Germany and sometimes Alaska or northern B.C.

“Every piece of wood has a different property. You choose a species of wood to get into a certain range that you want, and at that point it’s how you work it to get out of it what you want.”

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jordan McConnell,a guitar maker in Winnipeg, in his studio does some finishing touches on one of his custom made acoustic guitars.

McConnell has played guitar for more than 20 years. He was part of the Juno-nominated Winnipeg folk band The Duhks, a band he chose to leave in 2013 to focus on building his custom guitars.

“Sometimes I’ll be working on an instrument for a year, and when it’s finally done and everything’s perfect and I hand it off, it’s like giving away your child…

“If they turn out really good, sometimes I want to keep them. It’s hard to give that away to somebody and say ‘I hope you enjoy this, because I know I would have.'”

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jordan McConnell, uses fine hardwood to make his custom made acoustic guitars .
JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jordan McConnell puts his name plate inside his custom made acoustic guitars.
JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jordan McConnell's studio where he hand crafts acoustic guitars/ electric guitars.

Updated on Saturday, January 24, 2015 12:29 PM CST: Adds new pictures.

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