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Local guitarist opens luthiery shop in Phoenix

Aside from being the slide guitarist of local band The Haymarket Squares, Mark Allred is now a business owner after opening Allred Guitars & Guitar Repair on Grand Avenue just north of McKinley Street last week.

Having played the guitar off and on since 1986, Allred said that, like many musicians, he functions on a tight budget. When anything happened to his instrument, he often made repairs himself.

“I’ve always been someone who enjoyed making stuff,” Allred said. “About a year ago, I met my girlfriend Kate. She gave me that little nudge towards what I was already headed for and helped me figure out how I could get it done.”

The seed of an idea to become a luthier — someone who makes and repairs stringed instruments — was planted years before, Allred said. When working for Dairy Maid, he frequently drove past the old Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery campus, but it was not until February of 2014 that he enrolled.

“It was intense,” Allred said of his education. “But I loved every minute of it. And now I get to do what I learned all the time.”

See video (by Courtney Pedroza) on original publication

The rigorous, five-month program from the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, now located on Grand Avenue and Taylor Street, attracts students from across the globe and has graduated some of the best guitar makers in the world, Allred said.

“This is the school’s 40th year and we’ve had over 2,000 graduates,” said William Eaton, director of The Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. “Mark is a graduate and product of what we’re trying to accomplish in teaching our students. We’re really excited for him.”

The studio space is well-suited for Allred to repair a range of electric and acoustic guitars, from minor adjustments such as re-gluing a loose bridge to creating a customized neck and fretted fingerboard.

Allred is currently undertaking repairs alone, but he said it would be wonderful to have a workload that both required and afforded him to hire assistants. Allred said he wants to expand from just restorations in the long-term.

“At some point, I’d really love to be building more and repairing less,” he said. “Basic guitar repairs, like a setup, I could ideally do three or four in a day. To build an acoustic guitar, that would take me a minimum of three months, working between four to eight hours per day.”

Customer Joshua Garber described Allred as very detail-oriented in an email interview.

“He knows how musicians speak, think and what they are looking for,” Garber said. “He’s about building relationships and strengthening the local music scene.”

The close vicinity of Allred’s restoration shop to the Roberto-Venn School is promising for the Phoenix music community, as it could create a hub of local luthiery talent, said Bart Applewhite, financial manager at the Roberto-Venn School.

“We really love the area and we’ve always thought how great it would be to get more luthiers on the street,” Applewhite said. “We’ll probably take students there for a tour, show what a shop looks like and s

ee a successful graduate doing his own thing.”

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