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Valparaiso, Indiana, which is nestled about midway between Chicago blues and Indiana Amish country, is home for Hoosier basketball, lake effect snow, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and RockRabbit Guitars. Growing up in a small Indiana town meant working for what you want, not being afraid of rolling up your sleeves, and that anything was possible if you wanted it bad enough.

I started working in my Dad’s woodshop as early as I can remember. And even still have all my fingers to show! I was about 14 when I just knew that I needed a white Stratocaster like Jimi, so I headed over to the nearest town with a guitar dealer. This was around 1985-ish and knowing nothing, I thought those Japanese Strats weren’t what I wanted, but my Dad thought the American Strats were too expensive. It seemed quite normal when he suggested to me,

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 “Why don’t you just build one?”

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So, I started making my first guitar, without a clue in the world- Solid maple body, mahogany set-in neck, oak fingerboard. I even made my own truss rod from a steel rod which I threaded the end. Long story short- a year later of weekend work and I finally get this thing strung up. To say I was disappointed doesn’t cover it. This thing was terrible. Action wasn’t even close, so heavy it made a Les Paul feel dainty, and generally crushed my hopes. Unfortunately, I didn’t know at that time that everyone throws away his first guitar.

Luckily, I got a 1967 SG from my uncle and proceeded to learn all three chords. I continued to work in the family business, building custom cabinetry for kitchens & entertainment centers and hanging out at my stepdad’s custom paint shop, where I learned a lot about spraying cars & motorcycles.

I was never really a very good rhythm guitarist, kind of fumbling my way through some AC/DC stuff, but when I was 22 years old my playing took a 20 year hiatus. At work, I managed to cut my left hand with a razor knife just at the base of fingers (a zone 2) down to the bone. Yep, I got everything- tendons, ligaments, digital nerves, the works. Spent three months with my fingers sutured down and it took 6 weeks just to touch my thumb to pinky. If you’ve never had to learn how to move your fingers again, then I hope you never do.

Well, I continued to build and finish custom cabinetry, as well as returning to school, and a couple of years ago started playing again. My fingers aren’t that strong, but I’ve worked them up so I can play on a set of 9’s without too much pain, but mostly its great finger therapy and its fun doing something that you thought you might never be able to do again. I also started applying my finishing and woodworking skills to guitars in my spare time, and I decided that guitars are a whole lot more fun than kitchen cabinets. Plus, I already had some great woodworking equipment, shop space that most luthiers could only dream of, and a downdraft spraybooth. RockRabbit was born. Hey, why not?

Drop us a line if you are looking for something special and watch the blog for more stories About Us.

Cheers,
Joe

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Stratocaster®, Strat®, Telecaster®, Tele® & Esquire® are registered trademarks of Fender® Musical Instruments Corp.
Gibson® & Les Paul® are registered trademarks of Gibson Musical Instruments. Bigsby® is a registered trademark of Fred Gretsch Enterprises.
RockRabbit Guitars LLC is not afflilated with or endorsed by any other manufacturer.