According to the Guild of American Luthiers, a luthier is a guitar builder and with their art, they make wood come alive to create beautiful music.
Tyler MacDonald, a local luthier, creates handcrafted electric guitars made from exotic tone woods sourced from sustainably grown trees around the world. By owning a Tyler guitar, you are getting something that’s one-of-a-kind, lasts a lifetime, and that’s going to make an impact on somebody. According to Tyler, “if somebody picks up one of my guitars and falls in love with it, I’ve done my job.”
Tyler grew up listening to classic rock, and Led Zeppelin was the first band that he “got into” as a kid. He also likes the style of their guitarist Jimmy Page. Another influence was the legendary Jimmy Hendrix with his unique style and sound. Tyler admires how Hendrix seems to effortlessly become one with the guitar, something Tyler is striving towards as an artist.
He grew up on Marco and attended Tommie Barfield Elementary School and Marco Island Charter Middle School. He enjoyed exploring the outdoors and fondly recalls fishing for snook under the Jolley Bridge when it had a catwalk underneath.
As an artist, Tyler is very well known for his photography. He started his photography business at the age of 14 exhibiting in both local and national art shows. A key moment for him came at the age of 12. Tyler had his first exhibit at the Esplanade Left Bank Art Fest and he practically sold out!
Receiving a plastic recorder in second grade was another key moment where music became part of Tyler’s life. In third grade he started playing saxophone, and that continued through his years at Lely High School, playing with the marching band, jazz band and the all-county orchestra.
For Tyler, out of all the artforms, music was very important to him but as his photography took off, he put music on pause. But now music is back in a big way with his guitars.
Tyler was drawn to guitar making the same way he was drawn to photography – curiosity. For over a year, he studied the process; he took guitars apart to see how pieces fit together and why they work.
After a re-charging trip to Colorado, Tyler emerged with the conviction that he wanted to build guitars. He also attended a metal concert and felt a level of comfort sharing similar music and art with people who were not afraid of being themselves.
According to Tyler, wood affects the sound – the denser wood creates a heavier guitar and will have a different tone than a lighter weight guitar. He might use four to five different species of wood; some are good for the bodies and certain types are good for the necks.
According to Tyler, his guitars are “very welcoming to play; very smooth and you can move your hand around fast and easy. With a thin natural finish, you have a connection to the wood and feel the guitar vibrating.”
When is a guitar finished? Two key moments, according to Tyler. Once he signs Tyler to the headstock of his guitar and when he plays it and hears the guitar come alive. It has transformed from raw pieces of wood into a magical musical instrument.
Tyler was ready to show his guitars last March at the 2020 Naples National Art Show, but it was cancelled.
Finally, at the Naples Downtown Art Show last weekend, Tyler unveiled his guitar collection and he sold out! According to Tyler, buyers were looking for something fresh and new to fill a space on their wall. Half of the buyers were attracted to the beauty of Tyler’s guitars. The others never played a guitar; some were retired and if they don’t learn to play, they will display it as a piece of art.
Save the Date: March 20-21, 2021 at Downtown Naples Art Festival. Tyler will feature his beautifully handcrafted guitars that make beautiful music, which you can pass down for somebody else to make more beautiful music.