LIVE YOUR PASSION – AARON FENECH
At Burleigh we live our passion everyday by making the world’s best beers and we love to celebrate our friends who are living theirs! Passion is the reason we get out of bed in the morning, passion for our craft, for our local town, and our community. It’s what inspired our Live Your Passion series, a celebration of the immensely talented creatives bringing their own passions to life. Next on our Live Your Passion line-up is local custom guitar creator Aaron Fenech!
Welcome to our Burleigh Brewing Live Your Passion series. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Aaron Fenech, I’m a Guitar maker and I live at Nobbies Beach on the Gold Coast.
How did your interest in the art of guitar making begin?
I have always been a maker of things. I would just about try my hand at building anything I couldn’t afford to buy or that interested me, particularly things that occupied my free time. Things like skateboards, surfboards, spearguns and of course guitars. Growing up, I was always intrigued by functional design and often wondered how things worked, how things were designed and how things were built.
I can remember buying my first guitar from a little music shop that used to be at Nobbies Beach and I played it for a few years. I started to be curious as to what was inside it and how it worked, so years later I cut it in half and it still hangs on the door of my workshop as a memory of that curiosity. I then started reading books on guitar making, and then eventually turned my hand to giving making one a go. I was instantly hooked by the process.
What is unique about your craft?
I guess lots of things really, but for me when it comes to making guitars, there are no rule books. No set designs and no set recipe. You can choose to emulate what other makers have done or made before you or set a new path and forge your own designs. There are some mathematical aspects that need apply to make the guitar play in tune but once a maker understands these and the engineering aspects of the guitar, you can pretty much take it anywhere you like. For me it’s a perfect blend of form and function.
Can you tell us a little about the wood used and your purpose built workshop?
It really is the most important part of a great guitar and sustainably sourcing, drying and stabilising our tonewoods until they become a guitar has become somewhat of an obsession. Because we only offer short runs of handmade guitars, using premium tone woods across a small but distinguished range. This approach allows me the flexibility to source and utilise the very best tone woods from across Australia and internationally, in small batch quantities, giving the customer a greater tonal selection.
We have invested a tremendous amount of time and money in our purpose built workshop located at Miami on the Gold Coast to ensure we can control and optimise the conditions for building guitars like temperature and humidity. I also wanted it to look pretty cool as well so the entire workshop has a timber theme throughout to complete the experience. It certainly is very different to my shed at home where I first started making guitars…
Have you always been a guitar creator?
No certainly not. I left school and did a spray painting apprenticeship and then shortly after a carpentry apprenticeship. Then in my early twenties, I went to university and completed a science degree and I worked as a public servant for 10 years in the environmental management sector. I don’t think I really ever knew what I wanted to ‘do’ until I found guitar making. Even during my time as a public servant, I would count down the hours in the day until I could get back home and into my shed to start that next guitar. After a few years I found I was wishing my time away at work which really meant I was wishing my life away. Something had to change, so I decided to give it my all, take a risk and a leap of faith and see if I could turn my passion into a business. It’s the best decision I have ever made! Sure it has been tough and there are times where it would be nice to have a regular pay check again, but I wouldn’t give this up for any amount of money as I finally feel like I’m living my life the way it was intended to be.
Are you musically talented?
Not particularly. I play guitar and I play in a band on the Gold Coast, but I certainly wouldn’t say that I am musically talented. I know lots of talented players and they work hard at their craft just like I do at guitar making. I’m a much better guitar maker than a player, I’ll put it that way because I’m obsessed with the craft. I do enjoy playing and singing live with my band as it becomes a full circle moment being on stage and playing music on a guitar I made with my own two hands.
What type of people play your guitars?
All kinds of people play my guitars from absolute beginners to world class musicians at the very top of their game. I have been fortunate enough to have made guitars for some Hollywood celebrities and award winning artists, but I take just as much pleasure in creating a stunning instrument for someone to sit at home and learn to play some of their favourite songs on. The key is that a guitar must look great, sound great and play great. Generally if I hit these three elements players can’t put the guitar down and they want to play more…..
Where does the inspiration come from to create such unique designs?
I think coming up with my own guitar designs and manipulating them to sound a certain way is one of the most enjoyable aspects of what I do. I get a lot of inspiration from guitar players, playing styles, things in nature and also my own curiosity. This often leads me to create or design something that I know will be challenging but at the same time rewarding if I get it right.
What motivates you to push the limits and challenge yourself as a human and in your craft?
I have a pretty vivid imagination and like pushing the boundaries and experimenting when it comes to design. I probably seek out those challenges far more often than I should but figuring something out for the first time is such a rewarding experience. I’ve never been one to just walk a path because its easy or because everyone else does it that way. I’m curious to see what is on the other path, is there a better way and can I come up with something that is better than what we currently have…
What are some of the moments being an artist that have truly put a smile on your face?
It has to be each time I see one of my guitar being played on stage or when someone contacts me and sends a photo saying how much they love the guitar. Watching people take something I have created and then putting time and energy into writing or performing a song with that guitar really is a full circle moment and reinforces the passion I have for what I do.
Why do you love what you do?
There are so many reasons really but at the centre of it is, that I am the master of my own destiny and get to live a creative life sharing with others the joy of what I do.
Why do you believe it is so important that others live their passion?
Well it may sound cliché, but life is not a dress rehearsal. Yes its important to be financially stable but its just as important to live your life with purpose and meaning and do something that inspires you and others around you to live your best life. I think as human beings, if we are lucky enough to find something in our lives that fulfills us we should grab it with both hands.
What type of guitars will you be showcasing as Artist In Residence in the brewery?
I am looking forward to showcasing a number of guitars that showcase the beauty of Australian timbers and the variety of my designs mixed with showcasing some of the intricate parts that make up a guitar and some examples of the inner workings of a guitar. Hopefully this will make people curious, ask questions and make the mind wonder.
What did you like about the Brewing Local Artist event?
Firstly what a fantastic event and a fantastic turn out on the day. I was thrilled to be asked to be involved and I enjoyed showcasing some of my guitars. It is just another great example of a local business supporting the local artists to give them a platform to show their hard work. I have been to a couple of these events now but this year was definitely a stand out and the talent on display from the local area was incredible.
We are stoked to be working with you on this project, what do you admire about Burleigh Brewing?
Thank you. I am also really excited about working with a great local company like Burleigh Brewing. I can remember coming to the first brew house located at Burleigh on a Friday afternoon a few years ago where friends and family could hang out in the brewery, listen to live music and of course have a beer or two. It seems you guys have always had a place for supporting the arts and supporting other local businesses in the area through campaigns such as this. It’s inspiring and genuine and I love the way you guys make everyone feel as though they are a part of your journey.
Do you have a favourite beer or style of beer?
Well I am probably a Pale Ale guy at heart, but I love the Burleigh Bighead and Burleigh Twisted Palm…..in fact its what’s in my beer fridge at work right now!