“I can bring someone’s dream guitar to life”: Julie Rosenberg on combining her love for music with her talent as a painter | Guitare.com


You are strongly inspired by the abstract works of Kandinsky. How did this influence develop and how does it connect to the music?

“I was exposed to the work of Kandinsky (and others) growing up. I was immediately hooked on the shapes and especially the colors he staged in his compositions. I was very stimulated by the scenes abstractions that he set in motion. Kandinsky’s work reflects a galaxy of choreographed images, like a dance and a symphony, in painted forms and lines. It was very remarkable how he achieved this. Some of his pieces themselves look like staves, notes, and musical instruments. But their brightness and contrast, lyrics, and subliminal flow suggested what the sound sounded like and felt like. Besides, he was an original and a mathematician. I was attracted by his freshness and originality that I would like to find in my work.

What first led you to use guitars as the focal point of your practice?

“I am a painter and a musician. I had a vision and decided to paint a guitar body for myself. I went to my local guitar store and asked if they had guitar bodies. When I arrived to see what they had found, I was handed an off-white guitar body headed for the dumpster. My eyes lit up with anticipation and excitement. And just like that, I had found my “buried treasure”. At home, I had all the paintings. So, I started and the design flowed. A cabinetmaker friend sprayed the finishing varnish in her workshop. Years later, in the 2000s, I had one of my bodies built by a local luthier into what was to become my very first hand-painted Strat-style guitar. This one is not for sale, but others like this are on my website.

Julie Rosenberg Custom Guitars

You are also a musician as you mentioned, having studied jazz guitar. How does this influence your approach to building and painting guitars?

“Formal guitar studies suffocated me. Informally, jamming with friends feels authentic.
I think my freest moments as a musician are when I play with other musicians, when we improvise together. As with any art form, the qualities of discipline and restraint play a role. I respect that and I have discovered the freedom between those borders.

Julie Rosenberg Custom Guitars

When did you first realize you had a viable business?

“The overwhelming positive response on social media convinced me that other people like my work. People want one of my guitars. My peers also expressed their congratulations for my work. Of course, the sales I made really convinced me that I had a viable business.

Did you have any external investments at the start?

“No. It was blood, sweat and tears. And my money! Like any new business, I needed certain supplies. I bought paint, brushes, handles, bodies and parts and, on the advice of luthiers and other professional guitar builders, I sat down and the creation began, finding all the disparate elements that served as tools to achieve the desired effects in my work .

Julie Rosenberg Custom Guitars

All instruments are assembled by you. Do you offer customization when it comes to parts, such as pickups and wood choices?

“My creations are all unique. When someone admires and specifically requests a guitar of mine that is in my inventory or has been sold, I will create a similar guitar. I offer a range of options that you would expect to see in a custom ordered guitar. Parts like bridges and tuners, knobs, necks and pickups can all be ordered to someone’s specifications. From switches to pots, special requests in the usual hardware can be installed if they are there and I find them compatible with the design of the instrument. I buy pre-cut necks and bodies from vendors in the industry.

“A neck can be customized down to the choice of wood, fret wire size and material, and the colors and style of an inlay. If my suppliers can do it, I can do it. Body shapes are not fully customizable. Yet I can still offer a variety of styles, but these will be pre-made models, in stock at my suppliers. There is a large selection of mics and other accessories that are available to me, made or custom made by the handful of luthiers I work with. After I complete my painting and component selection, I hand it off to my selected luthiers to then complete the final product. As you can see, I can bring someone’s dream guitar to life.

Julie Rosenberg Custom Guitars

Given the free nature of your work, do you have a best-selling product?

“I have favorites, but different people like different designs. That’s what makes the world go round, and what I’m interested in seeing is how people gravitate towards one design over another. There are those who only want a Strat style guitar and there are those who want a Tele style guitar.That’s why my inventory is varied.I have a few guitars that were sold and then were I explain that I’m going to get close to it, but it won’t be exact. I need this freedom.

Julie Rosenberg Custom Guitars

What’s next for Julie Rosenberg Custom Guitars?

“The sky’s the limit! I won’t know until I’m struck by obsession. My visual artist/musician self would certainly be happy to see and hear ELLE and Lenny Kravitz perform my songs on stage. guitars at next year’s Grammy’s, and Keith Urban at next year’s Country Music Awards…and a whole rock band all playing different guitars that I created.”

To visit julierosenberg.com for more.


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