Comox Valley luthier Reuben Forsland is building this guitar for rock ‘n’ roll legend Slash (inset)

Slash commissions local luthier

Comox guitar crafter creating custom-built instrument for world-renowned musician

  • Nov. 20, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Renee Andor

Special to The Record

A Comox Valley guitar maker, with just seven years of experience, nabbed a huge client for one of his custom-made creations — Slash.

Luthier Reuben Forsland, 41, says he’s blown away that the former lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses chose him out of eight luthiers from around North America, many of whom have 30 to 40 years of experience.

“I was really excited,” the owner of JOI Guitars says with a grin. “To be this young … and also this short into (my) career, this is really a good thing … this is opportunity … who knows what can happen.”

The guitar is a birthday present to Slash from his wife Perla Ferrar. The choice of who would make the six-string acoustic guitar was narrowed down to luthiers who could offer a very rare kind of Honduran mahogany; Forsland was one of just eight in North America.

“It’s very, very good sounding,” says Forsland. “It’s one-of-a-kind.”

The wood certainly is one-of-a-kind as it comes from one particular tree, which was cut down in 1965 in a Honduran jungle. The tree fell into a deep ravine and stayed there until the early 1980s, when it was quartered then removed. Most of the tree was made into furniture but, because the sound is exceptional, the furniture is re-used for instruments; the piece used in the body of the guitar Forsland is making used to be a table.

Forsland was also chosen for his style, which features an array of unique materials. The top of Slash’s guitar is made from 3,000-year-old glacier spruce and the tuners are made from petrified whale vertebrae.

Forsland was commissioned in July around the time of Slash’s birthday (July 23). He met with Slash in August to decide on the details of the guitar.

“That was pretty cool,” he recalls. “He’s totally wicked. He’s mellow. We sat down and just started talking about guitars and what he liked, and discussed what he might like for designs — and he was just mellow, cool.”

Forsland will meet Slash again in early December when he travels to Los Angeles to deliver the rock ‘n’ roll legend’s birthday gift.

When completed, the guitar will have taken about two months to build, and Forsland guesses he’ll be fine-tuning his work right up until he leaves.

He notes each guitar he makes is crafted to produce a sound unique to the musician who commissioned it, and Slash’s guitar will put out a “big sound.”

“(I hope) he’s happy with it and stoked about it, and from there, doors just open,” says Forsland. “I get lots of customers that are happy with their stuff but they’re not that big (name).

“He goes on tour with Aerosmith for a couple months after I give him this guitar, so he’ll be hanging out with Steven Tyler and those guys … and (Slash is) a big guy, so rock on really.”

Forsland spent more than 15 years as a professional carpenter, furniture maker and woodworker before he started training to become a luthier seven years ago.

For more information about Forsland’s custom guitars, visit www.joiguitars.com, or check out the JOI Guitars on Facebook.

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