Best Of Dallas

The Nine Best Guitar Repairmen in Dallas

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Brian Paul

This guitar master is actually a custom guitar builder. He started building guitars in 1993. "I've been doing this a long time," Paul says. "It's just really natural to me. I'm weird. I just look at stuff and know how to fix it." When he younger, Paul was good at woodworking, and besides picking up the guitar at 14, he needed another hobby. But learning the craft of guitar repair didn't require a master, simply a book. "Imagine that, great book." He then converted his garage into a shop, and in two years, his custom guitars became commercially viable. "It's the real deal, all high-end neck set stuff." Today, Brian Paul's Guitars are some of the finest guitars on the market. Some of his clients include Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Jim Suhler, Warren Haynes and Texas Slim. Even Dallas blues legend Bugs Henderson owned one of his guitars.

Besides his restoration of vintage guitars, one of the most important contributions Paul has made to the guitar world is passing the torch to a new generation of guitar masters by offering Luthier classes that teaches how to build your own electric guitar at his shop. People from all walks of life have attended his seminars, including Mark Colombo, a former offensive tackle of the Dallas Cowboys. Paul is not only sharing his love of building great guitars but also teaching the science of how the magic works. "I have what's known as the 'no-fail policy,'" he says and laughs. "If you can't do the work, I'll do it for you."

Dan McCarthy

This guitar master started building guitars when he was 12 in the early '80s when Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstein guitar inspired him to create his own beautiful monstrosities. Since then, McCarthy worked at several music shops, doing repair work on the side, and learned from master luthiers working in their dungeons before finding a home at Dallas Repair Shop. Paul also does warranty work for Fender in its custom shop, which led to repairing Buddy Guy's guitar and Ted Nugent's. "Selling guitars at a guitar shop, you really have nothing to show for it," McCarthy says. "But here at the end of the day, I can see what I've done. Work with my hands, fix problems, and it pays pretty good, too."

McCarthy's probably one of the toughest guitar masters on this list. His craftsman's hands know not only how to help your instrument make magic again but also (we assume) how to put you in an arm or leg lock and make you scream "Uncle" if you mouth off too much about your guitar's condition. It's probably why guitar tough guys like Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osborne and Black Label Society, Izzy Stradlin of Guns 'n' Roses and Jason Newsted of Metallica gravitate toward his repair shop. (Not to mention the guys of Motorhead). They know they're dealing with a true master.

Don Bell

Building a rare 4005 Rickenbacker takes the hands of a master. And this master has not only built one but also created the "Jazzblaster" line of custom guitars with bodies that resemble Rickenbacker and necks inspired by Leo Fender. He also builds custom basses. "I like building beautiful things," he says. A few of his custom guitars were recently picked up to be shown to rock star royalty like Tom Petty, Lindsay Buckingham and Joe Walsh. He's played and repaired guitars. Steve Stevens, Green River Ordinance, Rocky Athans and Eric Clapton have sought out his services. He's even touched one of Jimi Hendrix's legendary axes.

Bell's journey to become a guitar master began with a car running over him as a child. He was an aspiring baseball player just shy of his 13 birthday and left with a fractured skull that ended his future career. So he picked up the guitar and fell in love. He's been building and repairing guitars since 1975. Today, he's running Bell's Custom Guitars on the side and repairing guitars at Murphy's Music in Irving.

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.