Masters of restoration and repair
How it all began.
Meet Denny Rauen, Master Luthier.
Denny was brought up one of ten children in a southern suburb of Chicago. He began playing guitar by spending time after school picking instruments off the rack at Lyon & Healy and Sears & Roebucks. In 1963 at the age of ten he saved twenty five dollars from his paper route and purchased his first guitar. Some of his favorite memories to date include playing on the streets of San Francisco in the early 70's and two album projects with his son Josh. Today his passion for music continues. Performing with son Josh in the “Rauen Boys” and on occasion a solo gig. Denny also plays a mean bagpipe.
From the mid 70's to 1982, Denny was production manager and designer for two Chicago area guitar manufacturers; S.D. Curlee and Dean Guitars. At the time he was in his early 20’s making him one of the youngest designers and production managers in the country. His designs include the SD Curlee Liberty Bass, Dean Guitars “Dean Baby” series, the final redesigning of the original Dean V headstock and Dean Guitars Shrimpfork headstock.
Adding to the workload he also started a guitar repair business he operated out of his basement on the weekends. In 1978 Denny invented the “Multi-Radius Fretboard” in his basement shop. Today the conical fretboard is often called compound radius. Several years after applying this creation to his own custom built guitars and repair shop refrets he published “Multi-Radius Fretboards”. Sharing ideas is a common tradition amongst luthiers and Denny is proud to have contributed. To this day luthiers around the world use this idea that allows guitarist to bend notes while retaining a light action.
In 1982 Denny left his job with Dean Guitars and founded Rauen Guitars. Six years later he moved the business to Milwaukee, which was also the year Guitar Player Magazine featured Denny in an article as one of the nation's finest luthiers.
In the early years the shop was a place where musicians came to have a "one of a kind" instrument built. One can't speak of this period of time without mentioning Denny's role as a single parent of his children Lindsay and Josh. Denny often had his children at the shop and they developed quite a reputation for the pranks they played on clients.
The focus of work has evolved over the years but the quality of his work and attention to detail is second to none. Denny's passion for working with instruments and getting the most out of them can be seen as well as heard.
Jeff GreenRiver Ditzenberger (aka River), Luthier
Outstanding luthier and all around great human Jeff Ditzenberger pictured here giving a early 1950's Hofner a test run after completing setup work. A talented craftsman, his fret work and setups are second to none. Playing guitar since childhood River is guitarist and singer in rock band POWERWAGON. A straight up, no frills, heavy rock band out of Madison, Wisconsin started in the 90's.