Noah Tolhurst of Howick, thinks people should be able to afford their own custom musical instrument. Accordingly, he has modeled his handmade guitar business on the tradition of Cigar Box Guitars, which were once a way for those who couldn’t afford a factory-made instrument after the Civil War to build their own.
At the time, the makeshift instruments were fashioned from your father’s wooden cigar box and your mother’s broom neck and straw wire. Irate mothers were rumoured to forgive their children for stealing their brooms after hearing their offsprings’ beautiful music. BB King and Robert Johnson are among those whose first instrument was a Cigar Box Guitar. One can imagine why they were forgiven!
Noah started playing guitar at age 13 and saved up money from working on his family farm to buy an electric guitar at fifteen-years-old … for $800. He purchased it from Steve’s Music Store in Montreal and noted that it was made in Indonesia. Today, his aim with his own guitar making business is to sell a quality instrument locally that is made from local materials, and to sell it for under $500. He explains: “So that a kid in school who saves up for not too long can own a guitar that no one else in the world has.”
Noah Graduated from CVR in 2004 and pursued Industrial Design Techniques at Dawson College followed by Carpentry in Ormstown. “I first decided I wanted to be a design engineer at eight years old,” he says. “It’s always been interesting to me how things are made and how they are put together. I took apart my electrical guitar in high school to see how it worked.” He built his first guitar for sale four years ago. With the recent purchase a laser cutting machine, he now cuts his own boxes from local wood, and engraves his mostly 3 or 4 string Resonators, Cigar Box Guitars, and Solid or Chamber Bodied Electric Guitars.
Noah recently designed a six-string Biscuit Resonator Box for the Indiana touring band, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, who Noah was overjoyed to hear in action. He loves to source difficult to find hardwoods and to repurpose local barn wood. Sharing machinery with other Haut Saint Laurent designers helps him create custom work from his own basement and garage. He is currently building up an inventory of guitars to have a stock that people can come see and try out.
The master woodworker is also known locally for building CVR trophies, and historically based, three to 11 piece model airplane kits. Look out for him playing music at the Huntingdon Farmer’s Market this summer and fall and selling his custom wares at the Christmas markets. Contact him directly on Facebook via @NoahTolhurst.