~ Cp Thornton Guitars ~
Cp Thornton Guitars of Sumner, Maine crafts a range of solid wood, semi-hollowbody archtop guitars with innovative construction methods and top-quality materials. Their patented thinline hollowbody guitar design features neck-through construction and a uniquely sculpted neck joint. Their solidbody designs are equally groundbreaking, applying a fresh design approach to the traditional single-coil guitar.
A little history:
1956. Chuck Thornton was born in Maine and grew up on a farm where his dad taught him how to work with wood at a very young age. Chuck's first guitar was a Tiesco Del Ray cherry sunburst, a Christmas present from his parents. That was the beginning of Chuck's buying, selling and begging for guitars.
1980. At age 24 Chuck was ready to challenge his musical skills. He uprooted his family and moved them all to Boston. He attended the Berklee College of Music, focusing on guitar performance. After completing his first year, funds ran short, and the family relocated to Florida for a few years.
1983. Chuck's family's journey brought them back to Maine and for the next two years woodworking took on a whole new meaning as they built their own home in the Maine woods. Chuck made his living teaching guitar. He had between 20 and 30 private students a week until the place where he was teaching burned to the ground along with all his teaching materials, books and notes from Berklee. Chuck returned to the club scene, but this time as a bass player.
1985. At 29 years old, Chuck started building basses. The first seven commercial basses he built had bolt-on necks. The first bass that he completely created was a neck-through fretless that his brother Rick still owns.
1989. Chuck built his first workshop in his brother Rick’s home where he created and sold 41 neck-through basses and 14 neck-through solid body guitars over the next few years. Initially his work was sold regionally to local musicians.
1992. Chuck placed an ad in Bass Player Magazine and began selling nationally and internationally.
1993. In August, Chuck went to work for Dana Bourgeois Guitars. Chuck hand carved necks, did fret board leveling and fret jobs, helped Dana in finish and did the set ups. In his off hours he built 17 more through-neck solid bodies; six of these were purchased by one collector, two went to Switzerland, one to Pennsylvania, one to Florida, and the rest were sold around Maine.
1996. During a Summer Art Festival where Chuck was showing a few of his guitars, he met Jon Cooper, a great violin maker, and wonderful human being. Cooper liked Chuck's work and offered him a job. For the next four years Chuck learned the art of violin design and construction: arching, graduations, how the recurve is the lungs of the instrument and gives it its voice. Chuck did wood preparation, orienting the grains, pre-carving scrolls, bending sides, making fingerboards, gluing in kerfing and cutting purfling channels. His apprenticeship with Jon took his luthier and designing skills to the next level. During those four years he designed and built 7 violin inspired guitars, all of which sold to local players and teachers.
2000. Chuck rejoined Dana Bourgeois at his new company, Pantheon Guitars, along with great luthiers like John Slobod, Richard Shapiro, Mike Onofrio and others. His primary responsibilities were fret jobs and set ups.
2002. While grocery shopping Chuck ran into John Hayden and they spoke casually for moment about guitars. A few weeks later John called Chuck and invited him to a lunch that would change his life. Hayden said if Chuck could design a marketable guitar he could come up with the money to develop it. Between the research, design, and programming, the first three prototypes took eighteen months to build. Through all the cost overruns and creative challenges John Hayden stepped up to the line and with his help and generosity made it possible to open the doors of CpThornton Guitars in June 2004.
2004. In June 2004 the doors of Cp Thornton Guitars were opened. Chuck had designed and built the benches, the lighting, put up a spray booth, built a dry room, helped wire and put the machines in place.
2006. In January 2006 the business needed a new direction. Soon after, Chuck got a phone call from his friend and fellow luthier Richard Shapiro. He was interested in joining the company. Richard can do anything he puts his mind to and do it very well. He was a lawyer, sailor, computer consultant, photographer, office manager, book keeper and a fantastic luthier. Needless to say this was a good phone call. Richard now handles the business end of things and the photography. And also, he’s great at maintaining the machinery which allows Chuck to concentrate on building these guitars for you.
To date Cp Thornton has personally built more than 250 guitars and basses, each an act of passion, dedication and discipline. With CP Thornton Guitars, Chuck is fulfilling a lifetime dream; to create heirloom quality instruments for musicians who seek that rare balance between breath-taking beauty and engineering excellence. With mass production dominating the music industry today, a truly master-built instrument is rare. Each Thornton model has been designed specifically for its purpose and sonic signature.
"Guitar playing is something I developed through discipline. However, I feel that true talents should flow effortlessly. Looking back at the last twenty years that I’ve been building guitars I realize that being a luthier is the talent that I was born with. Each personal and professional lesson kept directing me to accept and develop the gift that I had been given: the ability to create musical instruments."--Chuck Thornton