About The Artist
“Turning Wood Into Music.”
Hello. I’m Rick Lee, a Luthier living in Bradenton, Florida. I enjoy working with exotic woods and crafting them into fine handmade musical instruments. I currently make acoustic and electric guitars, electric basses, ukuleles and other yet-unnamed instruments.
I am currently building guitars where the soundhole has either moved to one side or where there are two soundholes. I intend to spend the next several years building double soundhole guitars. I see no reason to put a hole in the middle of the ‘active plate’, the top.
I am also using precious and semi precious stones in the rosettes.
I build three styles of electric guitars. The first is the bolt-on neck similar to the one used in “Time is Money.” These are best known for being used in all of Leo Fender’s creations. The second is a set neck. My “Rick Junior” Model has a full set neck which greatly increases the sustain. It is wonderful with a Mahogany or Limba body and hot humbucking pickups. This truly becomes a fire stick. The third is the neck-thru, which incorporates multiple laminations of very stiff wood – Maple, Purpleheart and Ebony. The result is a guitar with a very bright articulate note. Deadheads delight!
I build two styles of electric basses, bolt-on necks and neck-thru. The very first electric guitar built by Leo Fender had a bolt-on neck. If you play bass you know exactly how good these sound. The neck-thru design is usually reserved for the most exotic and sophisticated bass. The woods used in the neck help determine the overall tone of the bass. These can go from Maple/Ebony (bright fundamental) to Mahogany/Walnut (warm). The body woods for both styles of basses are virtually unlimited. These include Purpleheart, Paduk, Alder, Ash, all varieties of Maples, the entire world of Burls, etc., etc. Basses are available in 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 string options. Necks, of course, are doubly reinforced for stiffness. Electronics can be anywhere from standard passive pickups to active pickups with extensive on board active tone shaping. Let me help you create your dream bass.
My fascination with the ukulele first occurred when I came upon an exhibit in the Maui airport. I build all four sizes of ukelele: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone, in the traditional shape. What is not traditional is my use of the double soundholes. Ukes are offered in Mahogany, and of course the time honored (and beautiful) Koa, which is my favorite of all woods to use. Ukes can also be created using just about any hardwood you can think of, including Maple, Walnut, Mango, Rosewood, etc., etc. Tops can be of the matching wood or Spruce, Cedar or Redwood. Pineapple Ukes with a single soundhole are also available.
Like many other guitar builders, I started out making “adjustments” to the guitars that I played. I changed pickups, added more switches, replaced tuners, etc. Soon some of these modifications became major reconstruction of the instrument. Friends (and friends-of-friends) asked me to help fix their guitars, and eventually Lee Lutherie was born in originally in Altus, Oklahoma. In 1980 I attended Charles Fox’s guitar building school in Vermont. I did repairs, custom work and building, all the while being a full time college student and working musician.
After school I got a ‘real job’, and guitar building was put on hold. In late 1994 Christina, my wife, and I abandoned south western Oklahoma and relocated to the Tampa Bay area. In the last 5 years or so, I have been transitioning from the courtroom back to the wood shop. I’m a happy guy!
Like all good artists, I have about 15 projects going at once. (See pictures on my other pages.) I still love to pick. I play guitar and bass at Christian Retreat Family Church in Bradenton, Florida on the Worship Team.
The following are the guitar builders organizations I am a member of: Association of Stringed Instruments Artisans (ASIA), Guild of American Luthiers, both of which are groups of stringed instrument builders.
My wife, Christina, (a Jewelry Design and Silk Painting Design Artist) You can purchase Christina’s “Art You Can Wear at www.creationsbychristina.net, at a local art festival, or at a private jewelry trunk show locally.