The Wednesday, Sept. 1 issue of the Hermiston Herald contained a story stating the only option for guitar repair will soon disappear from Hermiston.

This is incorrect — by 45 years.

Lester McMasters, who owns and operates a custom guitar shop at 965 E. Main St. in Hermiston, has been building acoustic guitars for 28 years and making repairs on myriad instruments since 1965.

“I do every repair on a guitar that you can do,” McMasters said in an interview Tuesday.

A retired electrician of 30 years who solidified his handiwork as a precision woodworker in the Navy, McMasters came from a musical family in Garfield, Wash.

His mother played the accordion, guitar and piano, and his dad played the fiddle, guitar and harmonica.

Along with a bass player and his wife, McMasters formed the band Wires and Wood; the wed couple have played for religious services for decades.

“Sunday morning I’ll go to church,” McMasters said, “and come back to work if I have something to do.”

A loyal customer himself — he has bought Martin brand strings since he began building guitars — McMasters said he offers all repair and setup services, from basic re-stringings to adjusting truss rods.

“I work on any guitar that will warrant the cost of repair,” he said.

When he’s not fiddling with a customer’s repair job, McMasters either restores vintage guitars or builds his own custom instruments, stands and straps.

During the interview Tuesday, he talked about a current project — a Harwood brand guitar dating back at least 80 years, according to McMasters.

“This guitar will be nice to have when it’s restored,” he said, holding the instrument like a new father. “It will stay in the family.”

McMasters said he’s been busy this summer, and he will making his virginal trip to the Grand Canyon in a week.

When he’s not building,  McMasters is shopping for sources of wood.

“If I see something I really want, and the money’s in the bank,” McMasters said, “I’m going to buy it, bring it home and build a guitar out of it.”

A list of his core materials reads like an ancient spice trader’s inventory: African bubinga, redwood from the Adirondack Mountains, maple, mesquite and myrtlewood.

The final item McMasters chooses for its acoustic properties.

After picking up an instrument made from leftover stock, he emphasized the myrtlewood’s attitude.

“It’s a screamer guitar,” McMasters said.

He developed his basic building skills from an old time fiddler in Baker named Ben Hanes, and McMasters has been honing his skills ever since.

“I can unplug the shop and build a guitar with hand tools,” he said.

In fact, that’s how McMasters built his first 11 instruments.

For more information or to make an appointment for a shop tour, repair or custom build, call McMasters at 541-567-5698 or visit his 

website at www.mcmastersguitars.com.

  

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