Russell Edington, Minot, builds, repairs guitars
Minot man builds, repairs guitars
Russell Edington admits to playing guitar, although not well enough to do it publicly. When it comes to building guitars, though, some have called him an artist.
“I’ve been called an artist, but I don’t think I am,” Edington said. He adds, though, that it takes creativity.
“There’s a few tricks to doing it,” he said. “You’ve got to be patient and you can’t be in a hurry. You can’t shortcut anything when making a high-end piece.”
An electrician for about 29 years, Edington underwent neck surgery a few years ago that prohibited him from continuing in the trade due to difficulty engaging in the physical activities required on a construction site.
He had always loved guitars, so at 50 years old, with his wife’s blessing, he went back to school to train in a master luthier program, learning to build and repair stringed instruments.
Stringed instrument repair is the bread-and-butter of his business, The Finger Board. However, he’s also built about 10 custom guitars over the past two years under his brand, Leigh Rose Guitars.
“I build them because I can,” he laughed. It takes a certain ear to know acoustics, and the higher-end guitars that he makes are special instruments. He has been working on an electric guitar for a Nashville musician whom he met in Bismarck. Following an in-depth discussion into instrument construction, the musician commissioned Edington to build him a guitar.
Edington builds both acoustic and electric guitars. With his electrical background, he’s able to construct the full setup of electric guitars, cords and amplifiers.
He works in a variety of hardwood, depending on the project. There is a lot of science involved, but Sitka spruce has been his choice for guitar tops because it is light and strong, he said. Backs might be mahogany, maple or rosewood.
“The tops and the backs both work,” he said. “It’s an active back and an active top. They move to produce sound.”
He also builds cigar-box guitars because “it’s unique and it’s fun.”
Since the spring of 2019, Edington has taken a mobile trailer loaded with products to music festivals and Pride of Dakota showcase events to connect with customers.
Edington is a member of Pride of Dakota, an organization in which he takes great pride. He has purchased a number of products from other Pride of Dakota members, often ordering music- and guitar-themed products to enhance the offerings available to his customers when he travels to music events.
One of his favorite events is the Prairie Pothole music festival near Anamoose. He’s also attended events in Bismarck and Williston.
At the end of November, Edington put out a call on The Finger Board’s Facebook page for donations of discarded guitars. He received about five that he has been repairing for underprivileged folks, either children or adults, who would appreciate the gift of music. The Minot YWCA and North Central Human Service Center each have already received a guitar for placement with clients.
“When you ask Minot for something, the community does respond,” Edington said of the guitar donations he’s received. “I think that speaks for North Dakota, not just Minot.”
In his workroom in his home, Edington continues to take guitar donations for repair while he forges ahead with his latest building projects.
Edington doesn’t consider himself to have built his best-ever guitar yet.
“I’m always pushing, always evolving, always growing,” he said. “I guess the day I can say I am satisfied with the guitar itself, I think that’s when I’m done.”
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or call 1-800-735-3229. You also can send email suggestions to email@example.com.)