The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Guitar heroes

An almost finished guitar is passed from City College graduate Mike Mann to James Sellards. The business of making guitars was started by Sellards after he found a pine log on the side of the road. Photo by||Angelo Mabelot || [email protected]

Their partnership actually started with a piece of wood, just like all guitars do. After graduating in music from City College and changing his major, 25-year-old college student Michael Mann found a new way to the create music.

“The process starts with fi nding a nice chunk of wood,” says James Sellards, 42, Mann’s church band mate, who builds electric guitars from scratch.

Just outside Land Park, Sellards, an engineer, says he finds joy making guitars as a hobby from inside his home. He recently built a custom guitar for Mann and says he loves seeing them played by fellow musicians.

After a brief stint at Sacramento State University studying music, Mann decided to return to City College as a communications major and plans to continue that line of study again there next fall.

In the meantime, Mann says he is saving money, leading worship at his church, Touchstone Christian Fellowship and helping Sellards make guitars.

It all began on the way home from a June church retreat in Lake Tahoe, when Sellards asked Mann to help him carry a 200-pound log of pine from the side of the road unto his truck. In exchange, Sellards said he would build Mann a guitar out of the log.

“His plan was to cut it up, stick it here [in the garage], let it dry up for a year and then start building stuff with it,”

Mann says. “My guitar was going to come from this, but of course we couldn’t wait.”

A month after the retreat, Mann was dropping by once a week to build his own guitar while learning to help Sellards build other custom guitars.

Now, several pine logs sit in Sellards’ garage-turnedguitar- shop, waiting for the day they are able to be carved into guitars, while the two church band members build guitars out of the other types of wood lined up on shelves.

Sellards says he collects wood at odd places, like his neighbor’s torn-down house or the local Habitat for Humanity.

Sellards has a deep family history of guitar playing and making. He also learned to repair guitars from Sacramento guitar maker Arnie Gamble. After Sellards repaired guitars for eight years, he says he was inspired to start making guitars about two years ago after seeing luthiers, or guitar makers, post their work over the Internet.

Mann’s experience with building comes from the rough carpentry work he has done during mission work for his church.

“I don’t come from a guitar-making family —loving to work with your hands and creating stuff, that’s the joy I get out of this,” Mann says.
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The guitar Mann built with Sellards is a completely customized electric guitar with the body and paint similar to Elvis Costello’s signature Fender Jazzmaster, but with the wiring of a Gibson Les Paul, pickups of a Fender Telecaster and the neck shape of a Fender Stratocaster. Its unique feature is a pickguard made of cork board.

Their creativity and chemistry to create a unique guitar part is a part of a long thinking process.

“We could put some push pins in it,” Sellards says.

“[Make a note saying] Michael, take out the garbage,” Mann says.

“Or you could put your set list [on it],” Sellards says.

“Oh, yeah!” Mann says.

They named it the “Jagster,” with the brand name “ninety2 Guitars.” They built another Jagster afterward for Sellards but painted it red.

Together they’ve fi nished two guitars, sold the custom body of a guitar to a 17-year-old boy from Denmark, and are in the process of making a bass guitar and a custom guitar for a man from Texas.

Their customers come from online message boards that inspired Sellards to start building guitars in the first place.

Sellards has a special project he says he plans to give as a surprise gift to another worship leader at his church: a guitar shaped like a tulip with a fl oral fabric design.

Sellards’ experience building things as an engineer leads their guitar production, but Mann provides an outlook for a perfect guitar.

“With that [tulip guitar], I’m his second eyes,” Mann says.

Sellands and Mann’s guitar making is a one to two days a week hobby, but the pair says it’s all just fun for them.

“We try to be superstars,” Mann says.

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