When you were a teenager, did you have a vision of the perfect guitar? Did you dream about how it would blow all of your friends’ minds when you pulled your custom-made electric out of its case as some sort of angelic choir sang praises and the hand of God touched it as you plugged the masterpiece into your amp? OK, maybe not exactly like that. But Sonfather Guitars (4930 Pacific Street in Rocklin) has the tools to make your dream guitar come true, or to just put the finishing touches on the one you already own. I sat down for recently and chatted with the two youngest on staff, Julie and Jesse Cassotta. Find out more at www.sonfatherguitars.com.
Does your mother have a role in the business?
Julie: She comes in every once in a while and hangs out, cleans. She is really good about, if we are taking a day off, making signs all over the shop so no one comes.
How long have you been in business?
Julie: I think it was 1995; our dad [Dave] started it in his garage.
What was the inspiration behind starting a custom-guitar shop?
Julie: He retired from doing construction and he was in a band. He was working on his own guitars—and then his bandmates’ guitars and then his friends’ guitars. It just grew into a whole business in his garage. He owned this building from the ’70s and he had a diving business in here, and he was renting it out and the guy moved out, so it was just empty. So he decided to move in here.
What was the band?
Julie: He was in a Santana cover-band thing. I don’t know entirely, I was pretty young.
Do you or Jesse play guitar?
Julie: Just enough to get by.
What are the different services you offer?
Julie: We do all kinds of setups. … That’s probably the most common thing we do. I do all the fret work, which is dressing all the little frets. Crack repair, headstock breaks, finish work. Jesse does all the electronics, pickups, installation, complete rewires. You name it, he can do it. Pretty much. Lights in guitars, all kinds of crazy custom stuff.
What is the most expensive project you have worked on?
Jesse: There was a [Telecaster] that we made for a guy in Texas, and it was so detailed. Have you seen saddles on horses where it’s crazy engravings and stuff like that? He wanted that pattern, in silver, plated, on all his hardware. So we found a guy that would do it; it was $900 just for the hardware. Then, he wanted master-grade wood, master-grade neck, bird’s-eye maple neck with his name in huge abalone inlays. It was, like, $4,700 when it was all done.
We are doing this other one for this guy in the Army, and he designed the shape when he was 16 on a plate of glass. He brought in the plate of glass, and he says, “Can you build this?” Sure.
Do you guys really enjoy doing a project like that?
Jesse: You get someone a setup and, yeah, it plays good. Well, I mean that is satisfying. When you just see the appreciation of something they dreamed up is now in their hand, now that is a cool feeling. You find that in very few industries. I used to do car audio. You could spend weeks designing a custom-car system for some of these guys who cater to higher-end cars, [and they would show] no appreciation. They didn’t care. It was all about beating their neighbor’s or best friend’s car.
How long have you been working here with your dad?
Julie: I was 15, so 11 years.
Jesse: Going on eight years.
What are some of the bands and artists you have worked with?
Julie: We sponsor bands, so we do a lot of cross-promotion with bands—they promote us and we promote them—and we give them discounts. Tera Melos, A Single Second, Dance Gavin Dance, No Use For a Name, K Será, Early States and others.
Would you say your clientele is mostly bands or individual musicians?
Julie: It’s kind of 50-50. We have a lot of private musicians, like church players, especially being in Rocklin.
How often do you get orders from out of town?
Julie: We get mostly local orders, but we had a guy send us his guitar from the North Pole.
Wait, the North Pole?
Julie: North Pole, Alaska. He wanted the Zakk Wylde setup.
Have you worked on any double-necked guitars?
Julie: There was one that a guy brought in, it was a double-necked Mosrite, and they pulled all the fret markers out and put bejeweled type of jewels in there, all over the body, too. It was an interesting project.