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 up enough paper route money to purchase a used Gibson LGO from J Reynolds Music Store and the love affair with guitar began. Some of his favorite memories include playing on the streets of San Francisco in the early 70's and two album projects, the RAUEN BOYS with his son Josh. Today his passion for music continues. Performing solo and occasional gigs with son Josh and wife Pamela a founding member of the SQUEEZETTES. 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 for a major guitar manufacturer in the country. His designs include the SD Curlee Liberty Bass, Dean Guitars “Dean Baby” series (used in ZZ Top music video) the Shrimpfork headstock as well as the final redesigning of the original Dean V headstock creating a different string angle for better tuning.
During this period Denny also ran a repair business out of his basement on the weekends. This work for a diverse group of musicians was important in developing refinements to meet the intricate differences required for the many changing styles of music. Something not required in his job designing for the international market place.
In 1978 Denny invented the “Multi-Radius Fretboard” in his basement shop. Today the conical fretboard is often referred to as "compound radius". Several years after applying this creation to his own custom built guitars and repair shop re-fretting he published “Multi-Radius Fretboards” in American Lutherie and The String Instrument Craftsman. 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 as designer and production manager with Dean Guitars and founded Rauen Guitars. In the early years the shop was a place where musicians came to have a "one of a kind" custom guitar built. Six years later he moved the business to Milwaukee, Wisconsin which was also the year Guitar Player Magazine featured Denny in an article as one of the nation's finest luthiers.
One can't speak of this period of time without mentioning Denny's children Lindsay and Josh who were often hanging around the shop. Lindsay and Josh developed quite a reputation for the pranks they played on clients including the time Raymond Kane (master Hawaiian slack-key guitarist) caught them imitating mice chewing his pants leg. Fortunately Ray had a great sense of humor.
The focus of work has evolved over the years and the quality of the work as well as attention to detail is second to none. Denny's passion for working on instruments and getting the most out of them can be seen as well as heard.
Denny's hippie van
1971 San Francisco
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.