ABOUT ROBERT EHLERS • GUITAR MAKER
Rob Ehlers began building steel string guitars in 1968 in Santa Monica, Cal with his then partner Ren Ferguson (who later went on to become Vice President of Gibson acoustic guitars). They built Martin style dreadnought and 000 models.
In 1971 Rob moved to Portland OR where he continued building guitars.
Robert Ehlers with the first Ehlers parlor guitar.
In 1973, Bruce Burns came to work for Rob as an apprentice, and later they worked together as partners. At that time most players were using dreadnought , 000, or 00 size guitars. Rob thought that there was a place for a sound that had less bottom end than the dreadnought, but offered more in terms of balance and volume than the 000 size body. The Ehlers and Burns 15 1/2 cutaway model was the result of their joint effort in designing and building such an instrument. This medium size, round bodied, cutaway guitar, with a fingerboard extension that allows 24 frets and was designed primarily for fingerstyle playing, was the first of its kind.
Now, nearly 33 years later, various nearly identical guitars of this style are being made by dozens of guitarmakers.
Rob shows off a dred.
||Since 1976, most of the guitars that Rob has made have retained that original design work and aesthetic. The 15 1/2 model is still being made, but in 1989 Rob began building a larger version that has a lower bout measurement of 16 inches and consequently a bigger sound.
In 1992, Rob designed his version of the " Jumbo" size body, with a lower bout measurement of 17 inches.
In 2001, Rob decided to build a narrow bodied guitar that could be electrified but would also have an excellent acoustic sound. The 3" deep "Thinbody" is the very successful result.
In 2003 Rob started making his version of the Selmer-Maccaferri style guitar with an oval soundhole and an X braced top that produces a much warmer sound than the originals. This model has recently been retired.
Also in 2003, Rob started making two archtop guitars of his own design, as well as F-style mandolins.
Russ works his magic at the sanding machine.
In 2004, Rob finally designed his Parlor Guitar, with either 12 or 14 frets to the body and an optional slotted peghead. The other guitars that Rob makes are a near reproduction of the 1919 Martin-Ditson "Ladies Model" and an occasional dreadnought.
In 2006 Rob began designing a 12 string guitar in the style of the old Stella "Leadbelly" model.
After 30 years of guitarmaking in the U.S.A., Rob moved to a small town in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico and continues making his guitars the way he always has--one at a time, by hand. No CNC machines or mass production techniques are used.
In 2005, Rob's brother Russ began working with him as his partner, and, with Miguel "Naco" Hernandes doing the hand rubbed lacquer finishes, they produce 45-50 guitars per year.
They have no plans of increasing their production.
Miguel prepares to do some finishing work.