“If the main riffs from "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Creeping Death", and "Aja" got in a time machine to 2019, what guitar would they be written on?”
Inside Dunable Guitars: Pawn Shop Mystery Meets Hand-Crafted History
Sacha Dunable has been fixing, tweaking, and building guitars for over 15 years, but after starting his own shop, Dunable Guitars, one particular exchange stands out - “Someone once told me our guitars look like some forgotten guitar from the 70's on a pawn shop wall that you never knew existed. Without thinking that exact thought, I think that kind of summed up where I was coming from.”
Mixing ‘70s and ‘80s aesthetics with 25.5”-scale set necks, house-made pickups, and a handmade approach, Sacha makes guitars that people want to play, and play loud. Dunables have a look all their own and the feel and tone of a premium, American-made boutique instrument, but unlike most they aren’t precious. They wear scars proudly, drip with beer and blood and still ring out strong and true––just as any guitar “built by riff maniacs, for riff maniacs” should.
We talked with Sacha about Dunable Guitars, tuning down, and just what goes into making the heaviest-sounding workhorse around.
What is Dunable?
We are a company based in Los Angeles, CA. We make electric guitars, basses, and pickups, and have recently started making pedals and amplifiers as well.
Who is Dunable?
It's my company and my designs, but I have a small, solid crew of people who have put their sweat into building the company with me. Aaron Derryberry is my main dude who has been the head of the wood shop for almost three years now. Derek Donley has been making the pickups for about that length of time, too. Anthony Tirado helps with assembly. Katrina Woehlcke keeps the books. I still do all the neck setting, paint, and a good deal of assembly, along with customer service, purchasing, sales, and other boring stuff that isn't making guitars. We also get some manufacturing help, primarily with necks, from Grover Jackson's shop, as well as some of the more custom/one-off work at Jennings Guitars.
How did you get started building guitars?
I spent the better part of the last 15 years in a band called Intronaut, and one of the many part-time gigs I was able to maintain in between tours was guitar tech work. Everything from touring with bands, maintenance in the studio, or repair work in guitar stores. I worked for a ton of pretty big names with varying needs and got to know all kinds of guitars. Around 2008 I took a class at Musicians Institute called the Guitar Craft Academy and learned the basics of how to build a guitar.
When and how did Dunable begin?
In 2012 I converted my garage into a full blown wood shop and started experimenting with my own designs. I was still touring pretty heavily at the time, so I would make guitars for myself and Dave Timnick (the other guitar player in my band). People we would be on tour with started admiring them, and a lot of those people were my first customers. From there it just kind of spread organically.
What inspired you to begin and what inspires you to continue?
Since I was a kid, I've just loved the electric guitar, from the sound, to the design, aesthetics, whatever. I couldn't ever afford most of them, so initially realizing I could make them myself presented the opportunity to make anything I've ever wanted. I also thought there were things I liked about some guitars that weren't available on the ones I was drawn to for the type of music I played. As far as continuing to be inspired, it's just an incredibly addictive feeling you get when each new instrument is completed. Most of what we do are unique, one-of-a-kind builds, so it never gets dull to me.
How would you describe a Dunable guitar to someone new to the brand?
We make a sturdy, well-balanced workhorse of an instrument that is rich in tonal character, plays easily and comfortably, and draws from classic aesthetics but has some modernness thrown in (jumbo frets, 25.5" scale length, medium "D" shape neck). We also make our own pickups in-house, which are all tailored to our guitars to make them sound their absolute best.
How is a Dunable guitar constructed from start to finish?
Our necks are made with CNC machines to ensure consistency and precision, but our bodies are made with hand-routers and rasps. I personally buy our wood from a supplier here in town, and we mill it all in house. I do all painting, and then either I or Anthony will install hardware, dress frets, and set up the guitars.
What components, designs, techniques etc. make Dunable guitars unique?
Initially one of our distinctive traits was being an American made, set neck 25.5" scale guitar. That combination of specs was something I always wanted, coming from the world of heavy, down-tuned rock music, but couldn't find in any guitar that worked for that music. Our models are based on a classic 70s/80s design sense, but with our own unique shapes, all with the right contours and balance that make them superior to just about everything that has come before in a similar class of guitar. In my opinion, at least!
How long does it take to make a Dunable guitar from start to finish?
That's sort of hard to measure because each one is different, and variables get thrown at you during the process, but from the moment we cut the first piece of wood, typically about three weeks, with us doing batches of about 5-6 in each department (wood shop, paint, assembly) per week.
What inspires your creative process?
Someone once told me that our guitars look like some forgotten guitar from the 70's on a pawn shop wall that you never knew existed. Without thinking that exact thought, I think that kind of summed up where I was coming from. I like the idea of a guitar that is designed to take a beating yet stay in tune, not afraid to have beer spilled on it. And at the end of the day it should roar louder than any other guitar in the room. It should inspire you to turn up and riff out!
Everyone who works here shares a similar taste for loud, heavy riffs, so our environment is free from any influence or desire to cater to genres of music we don't believe in. Our guitars are built by riff maniacs, for riff maniacs. As foolish as that may be, it's kept our intentions genuine and maintained our unique personality.
What is the spirit of Dunable?
If the main riffs from "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Creeping Death", and "Aja" got in a time machine to 2019, what guitar would they be written on?
What is Dunable's Mission?
To make the best-sounding, most comfortable instruments, and to be easily customizable, all for a reasonable price.
Where does Dunable go from here?
To sleep. All this guitar making is exhausting!
Is there anything else you’d like for our customers to know about Dunable?
Please visit our website for info on all our products. And keep an eye out for more new pedals and amps this year!
Sacha and his shop are working practically around the clock to bring us the newest and gnarliest in Dunable tech, from guitars and pickups to basses and, as promised, new amps and pedals coming this year.
If heavyweight tone is what you seek, shop our ever-changing selection of Dunable runs and one-offs. “Riff maniacs” only.