“I live for building guitars and mandolins, and for my dog Lutherie ❤️”
Whether it’s imagining a world where guitars have as much personality as their players, or it’s conjuring poetry as web copy for her business’ home page, Wells is a creator who loves her work and whose love transcends to every note played through her exceptional instruments. Her specialty is in classic, small body acoustic archtop guitars, but like no other luthier we have featured so far, Wells innovates everything she touches. She is a conduit for beauty and creativity unlike any in the luthiery field today, and is the much-deserved focus in this edition of our Topshelf Luthier Series.
Maegan Wells and The Lutherie Lightbulb
Maegan Wells’ origin is as endearing as it is inspiring. At the tender age of 7, she started playing guitar and was clearly a gifted player. Her parents recognized this was a skill worth nurturing and ensured she had access to guitars and ample practice time. What they did not anticipate is how much Wells would also take to woodworking. While chainsawing trees with her dad as a child, Wells found herself conflicted over the sheer joy she felt while working in each of these passions. To Maegan, woodworking and guitar playing had seemed impossibly different from each other in nearly every way. But In high school, Wells had what she called the ‘lutherie lightbulb’ and realized the two forms, woodworking and music, could be one succinct dream. From then on, Wells was on a quest to change the game of guitar-making for the better, and become a master luthier.
After college, Wells eventually apprenticed under Andrew White and later Tom Ribbecke. This experience helped Wells foster an incredible breadth of knowledge that would guide her towards her own unique style of instrument making.
She started making her own guitars and mandolins in 2006 and worked tirelessly to get her guitar shop off the ground. She grew in incredible leaps and bounds, but humbly declares she has only recently started considering herself successful as late as Fall of 2017. Now her business is world-renowned and her style and is so coveted that she consistently has a massive waitlist for her custom guitars.
Stringed Instruments that Strike a Cord
Maegen Wells has incredible style and range, but perhaps most importantly, she has a deep appreciation for performance and values an instrument’s sound, aesthetic, and comfort equally.
“It just has to feel good in your arms, first and foremost. It has to be something people want to hold and keep close to them and not put down. that’s the first thing people seem to notice about my instruments when they pick them up for the first time; they fit the player well, they feel good in their arms. They don’t want to put it down!”
Today she focuses on two primary stringed instruments: The mandolin and the guitar.
Wells’ A-Style mandolin takes its inspiration from a vintage Gibson A-2. But unlike Gibson’s model, her mandolin focuses on clean lines and simple accents; her’s has no rosette or fretboard inlay and is composed of a Sitka spruce top and big leaf maple back and sides. The solid ebony bridge, metal tailpiece, and Schaller tuning machines all unite to celebrate a style of luxury and comfort unmatched anywhere else in the field.
Conversely, Wells’ guitar is based on her standard 15-inch archtop body. Unusual for an archtop guitar, the instrument has koa back and sides rather than maple, which is more typical of acoustic archtops.
“Maple covers a lot of bases tonally, but it tends to be more bright, and the koa brought a lot of warmth and bass response to the instrument,” she says.
In the end, no matter what she builds, Wells’ most consistent metric for success is whether or not musicians like to play her instruments; a trait she focuses on heavily and one people find is more than enough incentive to return to her incredible style of guitars, again and again.
When Passion is the Heart of Your Craft
Maegen Wells has forged a long and inspiring journey in this world of lutherie. Through talent and relentless dedication, she has transcended challenging social structures and a ruthlessly competitive field to become a widely sought-after guitar-maker and a truly profound presence, both in the business and in the world itself. Maegen Wells is exceptional in her field because more than most, she cares about everything; from the materials, to the sound, to the look, to the player; her heart imprints on each stage of every instrument she creates. For that, we continue to love and cherish the incredible art she creates and remain in awe as the bright future of Maegan Wells unfolds.
For your own Maegen Wells Guitar visit maegenwellsguitars.com or to customize your Calton Case for Meagen Wells archtop guitars go here: caltoncases.com/maegen-wells-guitars-archtop/ and for Meagen Wells mandolin cases go here: caltoncases.com/maegan-wells-mandolin/