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Inside the life of a local guitar craftsman

Inside the life of a local guitar craftsman

Gregory Lange the owner of Little D Guitars plays in the front room of his store. Lange started playing when he was 11-years-old. Cameron Roe

Inside the life of a local guitar craftsman
June 23
11:32 2017

Behind the bright yellow walls of the Little d Guitar shop sits Denton’s local stringed instrument enthusiast Gregory Lange, a guitar building luthier who found a way to turn his art into a business.

Luthiers are craftsmen, and Lange, 61, has worked with his hands as long as he can remember.

“I’ve been a woodworker literally my whole life,” Lange said. “My dad got me started when I was a kid just [by] helping him in the garage, building things and doing things with wood.”

Life before his instruments

Originally raised in the Dallas area, Lange moved to Denton to attend UNT and graduated in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture. He then received a scholarship to continue his studies in New York City, and he soon realized how tough the job market in fine arts is.

“I was crushed and humiliated like so many people are,” Lange said. “It’s a tough business. It’s real competitive and very political. It’s also real expensive to live up there.”

On top of his studies, Lange saw that he needed to find a viable source of work. Falling back on his lifelong-learned skills, he began working as a carpenter in New York City. Lugging countless hauls of material to and from the buildings he restored paid off in the long run.

Lange keeps a personal record of every instrument that comes in and out of his shop. Cameron Roe

After his study time ran out, he moved back to Texas and continued his work as a carpenter. Lange put his artistic endeavors off to the side to pursue a career as a home remodeler in Denton.

His life changed in the mid ’90s when he was taken under the wing of his upstairs neighbor and friend, master luthier Christopher Savino. Instead of using his skills to build up old houses, he began to create new, lasting instruments.

“[Lange is] an old friend with an amazing talent,” Savino said. “From the smallest music instrument to building houses, he’s an artist through and through.”

Making melodies

After apprenticing under Savino for approximately five years, Lange took his newfound knowledge of lutherie and made it into his own business.

“He would have me work with him on some projects but eventually told me that the best way for me to learn is to immerse myself in it,” Lange said. “Then, he soon encouraged me to open my own business because there’s plenty of opportunity in Denton to fill the need.”

The Little d Guitar shop opened in 1999 when Lange realized he could combine his musical and woodworking talents to create a profit.

“Once I got into it I wondered why it took me so long to figure this out,” Lange said. “I should have been doing this a long time ago. But that’s life’s journey. You figure it out as you go.”

Though he successfully created his business and has established his name in the community over the past two decades, Lange wishes he would have taken more practical classes at UNT that would have helped his current business.

Although he took several classes outside of his degree such as foreign languages, industrial arts and welding, he regrets not taking more real-world applicable classes while he was in school.

“It wasn’t until many years after I left college that I realized the many valuable things I missed,” Lange said. “I just didn’t get it because I either didn’t pay attention or ask enough questions. You need to allow yourself to be ‘stupid’ and ask your professor as many questions as you can to get the most information out of college.”

Despite his many trials and errors in his art and professional careers, Lange still believes that passion is the true key to success in life.

Lange said he never expected to be where he is now, but every moment has led him to his place as Denton’s luthier.

“You have to enjoy what you do and be passionate about it,” Lange said. “Because if you like what you do then you’ll want to get better at it, and then you’ll be successful. You just need to find something you really like to do and make it work.”

Featured Image: Gregory Lange the owner of Little d Guitars plays in the front room of his store. Lange started playing when he was 11-years-old. Cameron Roe

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Kayla Henson

Kayla Henson

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