Voices from the Walla Walla Valley — Kurt Schoen

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Kurt Schoen, 46, made his first guitar 10 years ago for his young daughters by stretching a rubber band across a Kleenex box. The second guitar cost him his fly-fishing line; by the third, he needed some real guitar strings.

A decade later, Schoen makes custom instruments for headlining bands: Bon Jovi, The Eagles, The Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top and blues singer Keb' Mo'.

His early cigar-box guitars have evolved into skillfully crafted instruments made from antique wood, usually reclaimed lumber from century-old dynamite or liquor boxes.

Schoen, a self-taught luthier, makes each guitar one-of-a-kind, specially tailored for each client.

His most recent guitar is for a regular: director of the Pirates of the Caribbean films Gore Verbinski. The wood Shoen used for the guitar previously was employed as a bargeboard on the Mississippi River in the mid-1800s and later as part of a house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Schoen is the focus of this week's Voices from the Walla Walla Valley. Learn more about how Schoen makes his custom guitars at wallawallavoices.com.

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