Instruments Custom Built by Craig Rantz

Mandolins and Ukuleles are hand built in an “old-world” tradition. Only the best solid woods, no laminates or synthetics, with either a French Polish (shellac) or oil (hand rubbed) finish. Each instrument is set-up for maximum playability and acoustic sustain. Electronics may be added, if requested.

‘A’ Mandolin – Sound Sample

Tenor Ukulele – Sound Sample

Browse a series of articles with pics chronicling the steps for a tenor Ukulele custom built by Craig RantzBuilding a Ukulele
Interested in how a mandolin is built? Check out Craig’s highlights of building an “A” mandolinMandolin Highlights
Interested in owning a custom-built instrument? Send an order request (no obligation)No Obligation Order
A person simply does not just decide one day to become an instrument builder and then they’re great at it. You start first with loving the instrument and the sound it makes. You learn the science of the instrument and how the sound is made. You need a good ear to distinguish the sound. Then you spend years, even decades, tinkering, tweaking, and building with some efforts successful and some not so much. And even with all of that behind you, it’s still going to come down to talent.

Craig Rantz playing guitars

Craig Rantz: Player and Builder

I started playing guitar in the early 1970’s. At that time, it was all John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot. I still have my 1973 Guild D35 and my 1975 Martin D35 which were my first really good guitars. I’ve worn out so many frets I’ve lost count. I’ve done some nasty things to them, like learning how to re-fret and replacing a bridge or two, but they were part of my learning process for understanding instruments and how to get the sound you want.
Through the years I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into how stringed instruments work, and especially how to “set them up” for playability. One thing led to another and I became interested in building guitars, mandolins, and Ukuleles. Because of the large scale tooling needed for a guitar I’ve concentrated on building mandolins and ukuleles – they take far less space to construct and are easier to finish because of their relatively small size. Their tooling is also much easier to assemble and maintain.
You’ll always hear me express gratitude for being given the gifts of music and craftsmanship. I believe a lot of it is passed down to us from our ancestors. My grandfather (Harry Rantz) was an inventor and built a steam engine car in 1901. My father (Robert ‘Mike’ Rantz) built sailboats during high school and was always building something in his shop as an adult. My grandmother (Thula LaFollette Rantz) was a concert violinist and my father always said I inherited her musical talent.
Spend some time looking through the Ukulele Build and the Mandolin Build articles, pictures, and sound samples. You’ll also find a lot of information about instruments (and especially guitars) on Guitar Talk. If you have questions about the instruments, the tooling, or just want to discuss the process, get back to me! Those are topics I very much enjoy!