Defying the grim news of locally-owned businesses closing by the dozen in Greenpoint and Williamsburg during the 2020 pandemic year, a guitar luthier is transitioning his business into a new Greenpoint workshop to keep up with the demand from quarantined musicians amid the closure of the local maker spaces where he previously worked out of. Across the U.S., guitar sales boomed this year setting records for large manufacturers like Fender, as the NY Times reports that the guitar is officially back.
FSC Instruments was started in Greenpoint by Farhad Soheili, who spent 20 years honing the guitar repair and building crafts between Los Angeles and New York City, before offering FSC’s custom electric guitars for sale in 2016.
Soheili’s business outgrew a workshop near McCarren Park where he fulfilled custom guitar orders and modification requests by appointment for the past 12 years. With FSC’s new workshop opening last week in an industrial stretch of the neighborhood, Greenpointers caught up with the local guitar repair king.
This interview has been condensed:
Greenpointers: Sales for guitars grew this year across the country, has FSC experienced an increase in customers during quarantine?
Definitely all the big companies are having a big increase. That does spillover to the smaller boutique brands.
What are FSC’s customers requesting lately?
Throughout the year, during a typical year, people are touring and they’re kind of destroying their guitars on the road more or less. But what’s happening now is people are at home playing or recording, so it’s a lot of guitar modifications and a lot of setups.
Why did you keep your business in Greenpoint this year?
I’ve been in Greenpoint for 13 years, and it’s important for me to stay here because most of my customer base is close to Greenpoint. I looked at a lot of spaces, and frankly, I could’ve gotten a better price if I went to Bushwick, but I wanted to stay local. I like the commute.
What’s the new workshop like?
We are slowly opening to the public and have way more space, and we definitely have increased capacity. At 500-square-feet, we have about twice the amount of space as we did before. It’s a more industrial area part of town, so we can make a little more noise up there. It really helps with building guitars quickly, and it’s going to allow us to hire more people. When the pandemic kind of dies down, whenever that is – I’m hoping spring or summer of next year – I’m going to be adding interns, maybe a few people who want to learn about building guitars or who already have experience to help us work faster. Right now we’re a staff of two, including myself.
What have you heard from the live music community during this quarantine period with concerts on pause?
I know a lot of people in this industry are having a hard time because they can’t perform. That’s their livelihood; they make their money playing gigs. At the start of the pandemic I was offering a free guitar setup per week to people who are unemployed. Right now, I think a lot of musicians are transitioning more to writing and recording, and some of my customers were able to get unemployment benefits helping them to modify their instruments.
Where are your guitars available to purchase?
The best way to pickup one of our guitars, if you’re local, you can buy directly from us at FSCInstruments.com, or through contacting us on the website. If you’re not in Greenpoint, you can find our guitars at Rivington Guitars and the Music Zoo.