Veritas Custom Guitars: Handmade harmony

Cobalt Designworks owners Jennifer Corio and Dave Frei

Marvin sources his wood locally, and uses a wide variety of species, including alder, rosewood, mahogany, poplar and walnut. Fret markers are made of ebony, abalone and mother of pearl. The wood is kiln-dried to six-percent humidity, then Marvin mills it to size, shapes it, uses a router to create the sound cavity pockets, glues it together and installs all the fittings (frets, tuners, etc.). After that, he takes it apart again and applies the finish, then puts the instrument together one final time. All told, he said, it takes about three months to complete each project. Everything, including templates and jigs, is done by hand. A custom guitar built by Marvin can cost from $2,000 to $3,500 or more.

Marvin’s guitars are beginning to attract considerable notice in the local – and national – music scene, in all sorts of musical genres. For example, hip-hop artist Kyle King, who plays guitar for the band B.o.B.; pop rock band Relient K; Atreyu drummer-singer Brandon Saller; and the country group The Band Perry all own Veritas guitars. Marvin’s guitars have appeared on several major TV events, including Dancing with the Stars, the American Music Awards and Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve show.

Although Veritas guitars are popular with a wide variety of artists (he recently met with rock band Switchfoot to discuss a possible sale), Marvin said he would like to primarily focus on the “country scene.”

In addition to building guitars, Marvin also operates a full-service repair shop for electric and acoustic guitars and electronic musical equipment such as amplifiers and guitar pedals. He expects the repair portion of his shop to continue to grow, and hopes to hire another employee soon, saying that repair work provides a “steady financial stream.”
Eventually, Marvin said, he will have to move the manufacturing part of the business out of his home and into a larger facility, but he expects to keep the store front on Main Street, because much of his repair business relies on walk-in traffic. He reported that numerous people had said they were glad to find a local source for guitar repair, not having to go to Portland.

“We’re the only major full-service repair shop in Southwest Washington,” said Marvin. “I’m excited to be the one to offer that to people.”

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