The resonance workshop

Tucked away on Green Bay’s east side, a boutique guitar production, retail and repair store fills a hand-crafted niche

by Xav Horkman

A completed Jasper guitar neck before strings have been placed on the instrument. Xav Horkman photo

Craft and precision are two pillars lost on a culture inundated with busyness, digital distance and a quick fix. Industries, such as live music, move at a rapid pace and musicians often need new instruments after breaking them onstage or a strenuous bout of recording. This demand creates mass production and the soul of an instrument can be lost in the process.

Tony Louscher is devoted to preserving an instrument’s soul. Walking through the doors of his workshop, his focus on preservation and attention to detail is undeniable.

Luthier’s Workshop and Jasper Guitar Company, LLC (1778 Main St) are partnering companies in the guitar world who share a physical retail and production location in Green Bay. They’re located on Main Street on the east side of Green Bay, and recently moved into a new, nearly 10,000 square foot palace of stringed instruments.

“The old shop, it was like 1800 square feet,” Jasper Guitar Company Owner Louscher said. “That was for repair, for retail and for the building of guitars. Very crammed. When this came available, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

On Luthier’s side of the operation, guitars are repaired and sold. On Jasper’s end, guitars are born. Louscher said the change of location has cemented the duo as a stop for local musicians.

“It’s been incredible for us,” Louscher said. “The traffic is amazing, now that we’re actually on Main Street with a marquee and a sign. For those that are in the area, a lot of them say ‘there was a music store over here?’”

Luthier’s and Jasper together fill a unique niche in the area, as a retailer and builder of boutique, handcrafted stringed instruments. Yet that’s not all that sets them apart, regionally and beyond.

Louscher recently acquired a patent for a guitar design that he came up with, and this design is used to build the Jasper guitars that he sells out of Luthier’s Workshop.

“I found something that had never been done before,” Louscher said. “I’ve been in the business since I was 16 years old. It took a long time to see what’s available out there, what’s new.”

He took that experience and combined it with science to put his design to the test.

“I was able to take one of the models we had back in December 201818 to Huntsville, Alabama,” Louscher said, “where my nephew is an acoustic and vibration engineer for NASA. It’s nice to have a rocket scientist in the family. So he invited me down to do some testing and four days later I started the patent process.”

Louscher described what seems like a quick process and a rapid development, but said it wasn’t without trial and error.

“It took about a year to get to the point where I thought I had something that was unique,” Louscher said, “but it was in the clinical testing of the guitars that made me want to protect what I had.”

The process of crafting a Jasper guitar is no simple affair. Louscher starts with all raw materials, so the guitars are made from beginning to end right inside the Jasper space.

“Part of the beauty of this facility is that we have it so streamlined. We have a lot of the parts made for us. It’s proprietary and they’re made for these guitars, but they’re made right here.”

Louscher works closely with Mike Mileski, owner of Spruce Machine, Inc., which designs and manufactures parts for guitars, among other things.

“Of the guitar building process,” Mileski said, “there’s a lot of boutique guitar manufacturers that just buy all the parts. They’ll cut the body, but then everything is just off-the-shelf parts. Nothing wrong with that, they’re nice guitars. But we build all our own stuff from scratch.”

The perfect pair

To start, Jasper guitars utilize specific types of wood to pair together in the designs to produce a distinct and full sound.

“You strum a chord for instance,” Louscher said, “and you can hear that it either rings true, long and sustained, that’s the resonance. Or you strum a chord, and it just dies. The term resonance is the symbiotic relationship between two materials or items. Like you resonate together with your girlfriend. Same thing when you marry up a type of wood. This is maple with swamp ash. They resonate. We choose woods that inherently resonate well. With that, we can build a product that’s born right.”

Tony Louscher uses thoroughly treated wood to create his body blanks, an early step in the process.

Xav Horkman photo

The wood is treated extensively, including cutting it to a standard size to create body blanks, then cleaning, gluing, sanding and cooking the wood in an oxygen-free oven to ensure all moisture is removed. This is where Spruce Machine comes into play. Mileski cuts the body blanks post-treatment, creates and assembles all the metal parts needed to complete the guitar building.

Guitar bodies are finished in a painting room that is designed to minimize any chance of imperfections in the spraying of the guitars, through a proper and thorough ventilation system.

Louscher said once the guitars are sanded and painted with 6 to 8 layers, the guitars rest in what he calls a “crib” where they go to sleep for a couple of weeks.

The crib is a long box that almost looks like a file cabinet for guitars. It has a heating element that keeps the guitars at 120 degrees to help cure them. Sanding and polishing come next before final assembly.

While the full process is something special and admirable already, it’s in the final assembly that the one-of-a-kind guitar design is magnified.

“What we’ve done is created a semi-hollow body,” Louscher said. “The process really started with needing easy access for the electronics. I really had no inclination that by starting that process, we’d actually have something that’s unique to the guitar world altogether.”

Tony Louscher polishes a Jasper guitar for one of the final steps in his building process.

Xav Horkman photo

Louscher said the flexible, tension-creating, carbon-fiber plate on the back of the guitar almost becomes a second soundboard.

“This here is like a resonator,” Louscher said. “You get two to three times the sustain that a normal guitar does. This changes the frequency of the guitar. It also has feedback suppression and a number of other things. It is kind of revolutionary in the world of guitar making.”

While the ripple effect of Jasper guitars clearly reaches far beyond the geographical borders of Green Bay, Louscher said he still takes pride in what his company brings locally.

Louscher said he plans to keep growing and bring on more employees, but his focus on a locally made, unique guitar won’t falter.

“This design is here in Wisconsin,” Louscher said. “It was made here. It’s almost 100% U.S.-made parts. It’s nice to have it local.”


Xav Horkman is an artist and freelance writer currently operating in the Green Bay area. His writing includes, but is not limited to, environmental and Native American topics. You can read more of his writing at iffybrass.com and patreon.com/xavhorkman. You can also follow him on Instagram @iffybrass and @xavhorkman.

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