By Pam Wright – Sydenham Current
Chris and Kyle Wesley are playing a new tune in Wallaceburg — one that’s unique to Canada and possibly North America.
The 34-year-old twins have designed — and are currently manufacturing — state-of-the-art acoustic guitars and ukuleles made of carbon fiber composite material.
Chris, who is president of the fledgling Legacy Guitar Works, says the company is the only one in Canada that’s manufacturing carbon fiber guitars and ukuleles.
“Building the instruments is an intricate process,” Wesley explains, adding it is one that’s been worked out “through a lot of trial and error.
“We’ve worked on different designs and tinkered with it a lot,” Wesley explains, adding the first instruments were completed in December.
The Wesley twins recently started a $10,000 kick starter campaign to help launch their musical inventions.
Currently, Wesley says, Legacy is offering acoustic and bass guitars and ukuleles, but the company is also working on developing an electric guitar as well.
“We’re working on new prototypes,” he explains. “As soon as we get an idea, we can start working on it.
“That’s the beauty,” he says as he surveys the wide open shop on Mason Street where the guitars are crafted.
And, apparently the new guitars sound just as good as old-school instruments. Although the material is quite a bit different than wood, Chris says the instruments are comparable.
While certain components of the instruments — such as the soundboards — are handmade by Kyle, other parts are designed on a CNC machine.
The guitar and ukulele bodies are created by layering high-quality carbon fiber fabric with epoxy, using a vacuum to fuse the layers together.
In the next part of the process, the guitars are cut, trimmed and sanded, and then painted in dark or jewel-toned colours using automotive clear coat paint.
Kyle is the designer and manufacturer of the bridges and fret boards. His twin says that while they both took up playing guitar in high school, Kyle is the better musician and it’s his ear and expertise that fine-tuned the development of the instruments.
“He’s (Kyle’s) worked hard testing the models,” his brother explains, adding he himself was more of an “on and off” musician.
“Kyle is definitely better,” Wesley adds.
The carbon fiber instruments have another advantage, the company president explains, as they are easy to transport. They can be taken apart and fitted into a suitcase or airline travel carry-on if need be, and they’re ideal as they resist bangs and dings.
Wesley says the pair is hoping to raise the kick starter funds but are “ready to go full steam” regardless of the outcome.
Working with carbon fiber composite isn’t new to the Wesley boys.
They currently manufacture carbon fiber hard hats and welding shields which are shipped to customers around the world, including the U.S., the Netherlands and Australia.
The Wesley twins — both graduates of the mechanical engineering design program at Fanshawe College — both worked in oil and gas elsewhere before coming back to Wallaceburg to set up shop.
They already have an impressive feather in their cap as they are currently manufacturing the only CSA approved carbon fiber hardhat in the world.
The carbon fiber — which doesn’t come cheap —is imported in rolls from the United States or the U.K.
The community is already getting behind Legacy’s mission, as the Wallaceburg and District Council for the Arts ‘learn to play the ukulele’ program has ordered two new instruments, which are currently in production.
The Legacy Guitars product line starts at $500.
If interested in contributing to the kick starter or purchasing an instrument, visit www.legacyguitarworks.com.
Here are some photos from inside the Wesley’s shop: