We’ve all seen medieval times movies where the knight, the hero, seeks out the town’s blacksmith to do some repair to his armour or create that special sword leading them to greatness. Today we guitar wielding warriors can take our battle axes to Nick Gagliardo of Nickafied Guitars with similar hopes. He may not lead us to greatness, but he’ll do everything he can to make sure we have the best weapon at hand.
I first learned about Nick from my brother-in-law, Bill, a longtime gigging musician, who swears by Nick’s work. The gap between my limited guitar playing skills and where I want to be has often seemed like a chasm, I’d never be able to cross. I’ve longed dreamed of being able to handle a guitar like Bill. He helped me understand how important it is to have my guitar setup properly.
I own a vintage 50-year-old Japanese knock off of the classic Gibson ES-335. My parents bought it for me when I was twelve years old. After a few years of lessons and my inability to play like I wanted to, I did what so many other teens do, who aren’t willing to put in the hours of practice, I quit. I sold my guitar.
Fast forward forty years later. After years of searching, I was able to find my guitar and buy it back. I rededicated myself to practicing. This is where Nick comes in.
I took my baby to Nick to have it setup and do some much needed repair work. Hoping he might be able to improve its sound.
It needed some serious attention.
I hoped when he was finished with her it would sound better. I was not ready for how much better he was able to make it sing. It was like I switched from driving a beat-up jalopy to a handling a brand-new Lexus. The sound was sweet and crisp. Like I had never heard from her. I couldn’t believe it was the same guitar. He did cleanup work, repaired a badly misaligned neck, made the fretboard and frets look like new, repaired a tuner that kept one of my strings almost always out of tune.
It’s not just the repair work Nick does that is impressive. It’s his entire approach to his craft. And yes, it’s definitely a craft.
From the first meeting I had with Nick I was moved by his passion for what he does. He’s been playing since he was seven-years-old and his enthusiasm for guitars is quite evident. He doesn’t just take your guitar from you and fix it. He takes the time to sit down with you, learn about you, about your guitar, about your passion. One can quickly pick up that this is not just some gig where he simply fixes guitars. He loves what he’s doing and cares deeply about the work he’ll do for the knights that walk into his shop.
When you first enter Nick’s shop when you’re bringing your guitar for repair it’s like an interview process. He takes detailed notes of what’s to be done. He prepares a detailed estimate. When you pick up the guitar after the work is complete, he reviews the work with you, and provides an extensive written report. His approach and professionalism are commendable.
He first got into guitar repair over a decade ago when he was trying to get some repair work done on one of his guitars. The next thing he knew, he was investing in luthier equipment. The rest is history and the guitar community is the better for it.
Finding a craftsman like Nick in this day and age is challenging. Not every town has a blacksmith who can help turn dreams into reality.
Thanks Nick, for your dedication.
Picture: Nick playing my 1972 Granada 5002T in his shop.