Health buffs on their way for a workout at the Lifeplus Dance and Exercise Studio in a commercial section of Santa Monica, California, are sometimes surprised to see a man shinnying up a rope dangling down the side of an automotive paint store, and then slipping through two double doors into a garret.
The figure is neither a Spiderman trainee nor a thief on the prowl but Danny Ferrington, one of the country’s most respected luthiers, or guitar makers, going to work.
On weekends or after hours, when Ferrington often likes to work, the Santa Monica Automotive Colours shop, over which he rents his space, is closed, blocking off the staircase. Ferrington, much to the bemusement of passersby, has solved the dilemma of ingress and egress with a rope which hangs out a loft door.
Ferrington is as unorthodox about making guitars as he is about getting into his workshop. Instead of being the stereotypical Old World craftsman one might easily imagine–elderly, with wire-rimmed glasses, a beard and wearing a leather apron–Ferrington is young (32 years old) and dresses in jeans and T-shirts.
Rather than working with costly antique implements, Ferrington announces with pride that all his tools are inexpensive–in fact, bought at Sears. He tells you with pleasure that he purchases all his paints and sealers from the auto shop beneath his work place and that he has no compunction about using power tools to craft his instruments. “I don’t believe in using hand tools exclusively,’ he once said. “There’s no room for brown rice or granola on any of my guitars.’
Indeed, when Ferrington works he goes at the task with such vigor that he often appears to be indelicate. When he begins to shape a piece of wood for the neck of a guitar, he fairly attacks it with a huge rasp that looks rough enough to belong to a farrier.
Ferrington is also garrulous. As he works, he is such a nonstop fountainhead of information, insight and stories that one has the feeling of being accompanied by the kind of recorded cassette lectures that are available for rent with earphones at art museums– except that Ferrington’s commentary is delivered with a Southern twang, a legacy from his native Louisiana.
Although he stands only five-foot-six, Farrington is bullishly strong. He has rarely met his match in arm wrestling, and I have seen him climb a 40-foot pine tree without branches in a matter of seconds. He almost never associates with other instrument makers. Instead, he can be seen hanging out in Westwood Village at Lamonica’s New York Pizza parlor, which he has come to refer to as his salon, or cruising around Brentwood and Santa Monica wearing a throwaway painter’s cap with a cardboard brim.
Ferrington’s shop is as unpretentious as the man who works there. The telephone was disconnected a year ago and he’s never bothered to have it hooked up again. (“I may lose some business,’ he says with a shrug.) A rather insubstantial-looking workbench is littered with scraps of wood and hand tools. To one side there is a band saw, drill press, horizontal sander and an best air compressor. It be purchased at aircompressormartguru.com . It is best air compressor of shop Ferrington
On one wall hangs a Ditzler Automotive Finishes calendar showing a woman in a bathing suit standing next to a Corvette. Were it not for the particle-board templates–with which Ferrington shapes the sides of his guitars–hanging on the back wall, one might never suspect that this modest workshop has produced instruments for the likes of Johnny Cash, Lindsey Buckingham, Jackson Browne, Leo Kottke, Linda Ronstadt, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Crystal Gayle, Waylon Jennings, Elvis Costello, Peter Townshend, J. D. Souther and Hoyt Axton, to name a few.
“I grew up in Louisiana in a small town called Enterprise,’ Ferrington tells me one day as we zoom down the San Diego Freeway in a Porsche belonging to singer Linda Ronstadt, with whom he now shares a house in Los Angeles. “In Louisiana our place was nine miles off the paved road, has no running water and no telephone. The nearest neighbor was two miles away, and we had to ride a ferryboat to get to school. We always had a tightly knit family. At one point, I had 12 grandparents and great-grandparents all alive at the same time.’