Master craftsman: Beau Hannam makes guitars & ukuleles in Grand Junction
Beau Hannam, a Grand Junction resident, is an artist, though not in a way most would expect. He is an expert craftsman who makes guitars and ukuleles by hand — also known as luthiery.
“As a profession, it’s a solitary experience,” Hannam, age 40, said. “You have to be comfortable with yourself, and dust.
“I love the craft of producing something that will bring special moments to people and will hopefully live centuries.”
For the past decade, Hannam has created one-of-a-kind instruments for customers around the world from his home workshop.
The Australian native moved to Grand Junction in 2013 for love, and continues to operate his business — Beau Hannam Guitars — full time.
“I came here for a girl,” Hannam said with a smile.
BOOK INSPIRES CAREER
According to Hannam, his business started as a hobby learned from a book he found at a second-hand shop in Australia.
“I didn’t understand any of the terms in it,” he said, though his interest was peaked.
Then starting in 2002 he attended the Gilet Guitars School of Luthiery in Sydney, Australia, to learn the art and science behind luthiery.
“Books can only teach you so much,” Hannam said. “They don’t teach you the creative aspect or how to look at an object to find those forms and lines.”
While he could make an instrument in a week’s time, Hannam said he enjoys adding artistic elements to his instruments. It usually takes him about a month to finish one piece.
Each luthier adds a trademark to their pieces, he added. Hannam’s is found on the “head stock” — or top of the guitar. It features two lines, curved and fading into each other, “to mimic the mountains.”
As far as Hannam knows, he’s the only luthier on the West Slope who creates guitars and ukuleles. He currently has a 14-month waiting list.
“It’s a good position to be in,” he said, though it’s also a hard position as he doesn’t have much time for personal projects.
Hannam also enjoys living in the United States for its access to quality pieces of wood from South America and Africa — unlike Australia, where importing wood was costly.
Cooper Shull, a Grand Junction resident, recently purchased a custom guitar from Hannam.
“His craftsmanship is phenomenal,” Shull said. “The sound it produces and the mosaic I have around my sound hole looks so cool.”
Hannam recently received his green card since moving from Sydney, Australia, to Grand Junction two years ago.
He originally met his wife, Laurie, in 1990 while they both were in Australia. The pair reconnected in 2011, and Hannam moved to Grand Junction to be with Laurie and her two children.
When Hannam isn’t creating guitars and ukuleles from scratch, he enjoys hiking, photography, reading medieval philosophy, and attending bluegrass festivals.
He also enjoys playing finger-pick-style guitar.
“Thankfully I’m a luthier and not a player,” Hannam said.
For more information, visit http://www.beauhannamguitars.com.
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