Five kilometers west of Cavan you will see a sign with a large guitar on it on the south side of 7A. There is the home and workshop of Roger Stuckless (Roger Stuckless Custom Guitars), Cavan’s resident luthier.
Since 1992, Roger has been hand crafting beautiful and unique guitars. His custom-ordered instruments are known throughout North America and used by Nashville session guitar master Nokie Edward (The Ventures) and Billy Garland (Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison).
Born in Twillingate, Newfoundland, Roger moved to Ontario with his family when he was three. At the age of six, his parents bought him an acoustic 6-string Harmony guitar; it was the beginning of a life-long obsession. Since that day he has studied and worked on his playing, and like aspiring guitarists in the 60’s and 70’s, Roger relied on the teaching books by Mel Bay and the great “picker” Chet Atkins.
After finishing school, Roger became a contractor, established his own roofing company and in his free time, honed his musical craft. He travelled each year to Nashville to guitar conventions to hear first- hand many of the great session guitarists. It was there in 1992 where he met Sonny Thomas. Thomas noticed Roger’s natural gift for fine craftsmanship and great eye for detail. Thomas mentored the young Canadian on how to fix guitars, re-fret, do bridge-work and neck repairs. Soon Roger could fix anything.
For the next 15 years Roger’s life was roofing in the daytime and repairing and playing guitars after work. It was only natural that he, having mastered the fundamentals of guitar construction, would build his own instrument. That first effort was an acoustic flat-top and it remains the only “Roger Stuckless Guitar” that has never been sold and belongs to Roger’s proud daughter, Jasmine. She is not selling. Billy Garland bought guitar number two and since then, 148 more custom musical works of art have been delivered to homes around the globe. Roger quit his contracting business in 1993 and set up shop in Courtice.
What has made Roger’s guitars so admired? He attributes four things to his reputation for quality: (i) he has always been passionate about his life work; (ii) he is focused; he doesn’t hunt, fish, golf or collect things (except his classic 1958 Chevy). Roger’s focus is always whatever guitar he is working on or playing. (iii) he never cuts corners, investing more than 100 careful hours of intensive labour on each guitar. (iv) he uses only the finest materials in each “(Roger) Stuckless Guitar”. Brazilian rosewood from the rainforests form the back and sides, old Sitka spruce from British Columbia is used on the tops, and the necks are mahogany. For the inlaid adornments, he uses Mother-of-Pearl and Abalone. Roger’s guitars range in price from $5,000 – $10,000, depending on the finish and ornamentation. In addition to building guitars, he repairs “all makes and models”. Sonny Thomas continues to be his lifelong mentor and picking buddy. Roger returns to Nashville to regularly spend time with his good friend.
In 2014, looking for a quieter place, Roger and his wife (along with their son and daughter) fell in love with the rolling hills of Cavan. Roger can be reached at 705-944-1733….or go for a drive and look for the guitar.
By Tony Parks