When the veteran luthier Sherwood Phifer goes out to hear live music, he hears elements of the guitar that the vast majority of even the most serious audiophiles could never pick up on. An amateur guitarist himself, Phifer has been building high-end customized instruments for roughly 45 years, so when he listens, he's not hearing a performance merely as a fan or a fellow musician but also as one of the most respected luthiers in the country. "Sometimes I hear a really phenomenal guitar player, but at the same time I can hear, 'Oh, he's fretting out, he needs a fret job,'" says Phifer. "What jumps out at me is tonality: note presence, note duration, sustain…Often, I can say, 'He's got great chops, but the instrument is not speaking well enough for him.'" Phifer, who goes by the name Woody, has been making instruments that speak for some of the most highly accomplished musicians in rock and jazz for nearly a half-century. He has built guitars and basses for rock luminaries like Gene Simmons , Paul Stanley , Rick Derringer, Todd Rundgren, and Johnny and Edgar Winter; jazz legends like George Benson and Ronny Jordan; and session pros like Will… Read full this story
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