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Blues singer and guitar maker Brian Monty in his shop near Ste. Anne de Prescott, Ontario on the Québec border. Monty makes and repairs premium guitars, creating a good living by selling them to well-known singers in the U.S.

Grooving In His Glory

In spite of his almost cult-like status in the music world, guitar-maker Brian Monty takes a natural approach to business


Susan Pinker

Special To The Gazette

First you navigate the overlapping highway access ramps. Then vast swaths of industrial park go by before snow-covered farmland and the occasional silo take over. When you pass the welcome to Ontario sign, you may think you're getting close to the studio of the guitar maker Brian Monty, but it's an illusion. You still have 20 minutes of country roads to drive before a right turn at the blinking light. By the time you hit Monty workshop in an outbuilding behind an 1840's farmhouse in Ste. Anne de Prescott, Ontario on the Québec border, you wonder, how on earth can a guy run a business in such an isolated place?

Easy, said Monty, who has been making his own Monty brand guitars and repairing high-quality Les Paul's and other Gibsons behind the scenes for 27 years.

With clients like Bruce Cockburn, Liona Boyd and the guitarists for Cheap Trick, the Dwight Yoakum band and the Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live shows, Monty has developed a name in a business that has reached almost cult status: maintaining and rebuilding vintage guitars.

He says he doesn't know how to turn on a computer and does no marketing. Yet the phone rings steadily with orders and repairs from around the world. There is a stack of new Yamaha's still in their boxes, send by the company to be fine-tuned by Monty. Rows of newly painted arch tops (bowed or convex at the top of the guitar) are drying outside his paint room.

He is hand-carving the neck for a guy who's building his own guitar in upstate New York, and has continuing requests for handmade instruments for a music store in New York City. And the phone just rang with a big order from São Paulo, Brazil. "They find me by word-of-mouth" said the grizzled musician and craftsman, leaning up against his cluttered workbench.

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