Julius Burgert has been a frequent customer of The Fret Wire. We were recently inspired when hearing his story, and decided to share it with the world. Mr. Burgert developed a case of Peripheral Neuropathy that made his work in the gun engraving market difficult to continue. The switch to building guitars has opened new doors he never expected to find.
What is your background? What sort of work did you do as an engraver?
My background is in art. I graduated from Penn State in Art. I moved to Alaska to paint wildlife. That experience lasted for about 18 years. I then migrated back to the lower 48 and figured I wanted to pursue a challenge of engraving.
What spurred the move to building guitars?
This engraving endeavor was stopped when I developed some health issues that effected my dexterity. At this point I spent many hours just pursuing guitars and wondering what it involved in building one. Finally my wife got fed up with my constant wondering and pushed the Buy Now button. That resulted in that knowledge that I could build them and others had a desire for them
How has building guitars helped you through your health problems?
This resulted in a dramatic recovery in my dexterity. I am now able to do feats as simple as picking up a tiny screw.
How did you discover the guitar niche within the gun show market?
When my engraving/guitar room became filled with guitars and since I had a history of doing gun shows, I thought I ought to try selling them at the shows. The most amusing result of that was the young fellow that decided that since he had brought $700 dollars to the show to buy a gun and decided to buy a guitar instead! I have learned much from this excursion in building guitar.
Any advice for others?
First, If you buy kits be willing to substitute better components if within your budget. Second, strive to make each guitar you build better than the previous one. All of this has taught me that no matter how old or your health condition there is always a new path that can be developed. For me it was building guitars. I just honestly wish it had been discovered 20 years ago.