Preston Thompson originally started making guitars after college in the 1980s and continued his craft until about 1989. Although there continued to be inquiries about his guitars, Thompson transitioned into raising his family and a career in marketing. Eventually, requests for his work and investment from Daniel Stewart brought him back into the manufacturing game and opening Preston Thompson Guitars in 2013.
“When I met Preston nearly five years ago, I was immediately taken by the beauty and big sound of the guitars he was building,” explains Stewart. “It occurred to me that there was a basis for a bigger business if we could put together an attractive business plan based on building top of the line acoustic guitars that would compete with anything built in the world today.
“As we learned more about the market, we attracted a limited investor group that would allow us to hire builders very selectively and eventually move to a shop where we could expand production. Over the past two and a half years, our output has doubled and redoubled, our dealer count has expanded rapidly to include Asia and Europe as well as prestigious stores in the U.S. and our marketing effort to increase our brand awareness has been very successful.
“From where we started with an idea based on these wonderful instruments to where we are today, we are on a very fun ride.”
The music community has been amped on Thompson’s offerings. “We are getting some amazing feedback from our customers, dealers and professional musicians out there,” offers Thompson. “The workmanship and sound quality of Thompson guitars reflects what my original intent was in recreating the Golden Era quality and perfection of guitar making. This technique produces a highly valued guitar by many collectors and professional musicians.”
When asked what challenges he has faced jump starting his entrance back into guitar building, he notes sourcing materials and financing. “Sourcing tone wood is difficult for certain types of woods,” explains Thompson, “and to have the upfront capital to purchase wood in quantities that warrant a lower price can be difficult.”
A recent infusion from Mid Oregon Credit will help with this and keeping competitive wages for his talented staff.
Most of the instruments he is creating are designed with master grades spruce, mahogany and rosewoods including Brazilian Rosewood. His guitars are of the highest quality and are priced between $4,800- $14,000. “When people are paying that kind of money, they expect perfection and I deliver it in the finish, the overall look, the weight, playability and the sound.”
With summer fast approaching, Thompson describes some of the new guitar models being released for the season. “We will offer a special one of a kind guitar designed by myself and our Inlay and Design Specialist Simon Haycraft. Other new models like the 0000, Classical Hybrid and Slope Shoulder Dreadnought will be offered.”
This June Thompson will be at Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado to show off his guitars with dealer Telluride Music and endorsing artist Peter Rowan.
Upcoming community activities which Thompson Guitars will be participating in include My Own Two Hands, a fundraiser for the Sisters Americana Project. He will donate a one-of-a-kind guitar for their live auction. In addition, Thompson Guitars will participate in Sisters Folk Festival in September as a sponsor and host. Several workshops will be held at their studio.
Thompson Guitars, 541- 588-6211
PO Box 250, 352 E Main Ave – Sisters, OR 97759
Company: Preston Thompson Guitars, LLC, Sisters
Tag line: Ours Get Played
Founders: Preston Thompson and Dan Stewart
Contact info: Sales@pktguitars.com, www.pktguitars.com, 541-588-6211,
352 E Main St., Sisters, OR 97759
When did you open your doors? 2013
What is your product/market niche?
Custom Vintage Acoustic Guitars
What has been your greatest success to date?
Awareness and acceptance in the guitar market place and relationship with dealers in the United States, Asia and Europe.
What is your companies number one goal in the next year?
To profitably grow our business, satisfy our growing customer base and continue to more firmly establish our brand in the marketplace.
What other ways is your company involved in the community?
My Own Two Hands, Americana Project and sponsor/host of Sisters Folk Festival.
No. employees: 8
Outlook for growth: Strong
Today, Thompson Guitars has relationships with a handful of nationally recognized guitar shops in the U.S. and international dealers in Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, Germany and the UK.
The company employs nine people:
Master Luthier/Owner Preston Thompson
Owner and Business Development Dan Stewart
Sales and Production Manager Christine Funk
Shop Manager and Lead Builder Gareth Jenkins
Lead Neck Builder David Peto
Lead Finisher Jesse Adams
Inlay and Design Specialist Simon Haycraft
Builder and CNC Operator Kaleb Klein
Special Projects Matt Kruger
(Photo: (L-R) Preston Thompson and musician Eric Bibb examine Thompson’s custom vintage acoustic guitars (see Bibbs work at www.ericbibb.com) | Photo Courtesy of Thompson Guitars)