By July 5, 2011 0 Comments

The Guitar Czar

By Kyle Cobb

For some people a guitar is merely a
six-string noise making apparatus, but
for others they are masterfully crafted
weapons of aural combat. The latter
would be the belief of master guitar
builder and Modesto resident, Dean
Gatewood. Growing up in New Jersey
with four older sisters who either sang
or played an instrument, Dean found
himself immersed in the music of the
1960’s. This upbringing has led to a
life-long passion for music.
All great craftsmen have a moment
of clarity and vision that leads them to
their destiny. For Gatewood, this moment
came while listening to a Beatles
tribute band in the center court of
the local shopping mall. Entranced by
the tone emanating from the guitarists’
black Gibson Les Paul, he knew
he had to have one. Since a Gibson
Les Paul was slightly out of his price
range, Gatewood knew he would have
to build his own.
Starting out in his parents’ basement
in New Jersey, Gatewood began
to deconstruct guitars he found at the
local junk store to study their components.
At age thirteen, the first Dean
Gatewood design came to fruition with
a neck crafted out of a 2×4 and a basic
pine block for the body. During his
high school years, Dean attended a vocational
school in which he enrolled in
a woodworking course. Naturally, this
course became a favorite of Dean’s.
Learning from master carpenter Norman
Nelson, gave Gatewood his keen
attention to detail. While the other students
were building stools and tables,
Dean was building guitars.
After graduation, Gatewood would
go on to join the United States Marine
Corps and served until 1981. Upon
completion of his service as a Marine,
Dean found himself in Livermore, California
where he met Marc Petak, a fellow
guitarist. Soon thereafter Dean was
playing in a band with Marc and back
to building guitars.
While living in Livermore, Dean met
his wife Cathy, and opened his first recording
studio. As the Gatewood family
expanded, with the births of Justin
and Kelli, the need for additional space
quickly became a necessity. The family
packed their things and headed for
Modesto, where the family expanded
further with the birth of Kenny. Once
settled in Modesto, Gatewood took his
craft one step further. He began constructing
custom speaker cabinets and
guitars for local and Bay Area music
Dean Gatewood now has a full service
shop located on Jerusalem Court
in Modesto, CA where he specializes
in everything from minor repairs and
restoration to custom guitar and bass
designs. The attention detail is very
apparent in Gatewood Guitars. Many
of the creations are worthy of a display
case in an art museum, but the true
beauty of it is that they play as well as
they look. Visit Dean Gatewood Guitars
and let your imagination run wild.

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