Short bio . . .
Guitar builder Neil Smith (Vegas Guitars Custom Shop) is certified for over 20 instrument brands and is a member in good standing with The National Association of Musical Instrument Repairers and the Guild of American Luthiers. Vegas Guitars is an authorized Fender instruments service center and parts and accessories dealer. Moreover, Neil is the only publicly referred Gold level certified (Fender’s highest certification) technician in Nevada and one of only 28 Custom Shop Custom Care centers in the US & Canada. Additionally Neil installs the JD Bridge Doctor and is a level II Buzz Feiten installer for both electric and acoustic guitars. All work is guaranteed.
Neil Smith owner of Vegas Guitars Custom Shop was born in Anaheim, CA in 1957. He began tinkering with guitars in Denver, CO around 1972. Shortly thereafter he began a successful career as a road musician playing with or opening for such greats as, Sam & Dave, David Clayton Thomas and Blood Sweat & Tears, Delbert McClinton, Peter Tilden morning show Los Angeles, CA (he performed on his show), Herbie Rich (the Electric Flag), Jr. Walker, The Chiffons, Bo Diddley (recorded with Bo), Katie Segal, John Tesh, Little Anthony, Richie Havens and many others; Neil’s road career also including performing in Canada, 15 U.S. states and as a G.S. 12 (government service) for the troops over seas in South East Asia (Japan, Korea, Guam, Okinawa) – many sites in the demilitarized zone and other remote areas. The work he did for the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy earned him one of the first citations awarded an American band by P.A.C.A.F. for outstanding performance on two tours consisting of over 140 performance sites. The Army made him an honorary “Red Horse.”
Additionally Neil has done many benefit fund raisers including those for, Colorado Women’s College, The American Cancer Society, Toys for tots & several for Denver Children’s Hospital.
After 17 years of touring, Neil attended college and received two undergraduate degrees with honors and then attended graduate school. Although finding a professional career interesting he decided to return to his first love – working with his hands – fretted instrument repair and building.
“Over the years musicians have asked me to work on their instruments – I love the work so it’s my pleasure. Players may ask me to work on their instruments as a former player, of several styles, I know first hand how frustrating it can be when you have to fight your instrument either tonally or structurally. Additionally, I understand the demands introduced in different instruments and in different styles of playing. Moreover, while I love music and playing – building and repairing stringed instruments is my passion.” – Neil Smith
Neil has mentored with several giants in the world of stringed instrument repair.
“I’ve learned a lot from many sources, folks with decades of experience can really teach you amazing things – and most (once they realize you’re a serious crafter) are happy to share their hard earned lessons. My primary mentor is master guitar technician Jim Anderson. There isn’t a more talented craftsman. I’ve also learned from Jack French (Gibson & Heritage) & the great Irving Sloane; and I’m always reading and updating because a stringed instrument crafter and repairer absolutely must continue to learn and grow – indefinitely.” – Neil Smith
Currently Vegas Guitars Custom shop is the most trusted shop and source for made from scratch custom guitars in the Las Vegas metro area. Additionally, Neil’s hand made guitars have shipped as far off as London UK. Neil’s client list is long and varied. Many prominent professional musicians appreciate the by appointment and one on one nature of his customer service.
Neil was featured in the Las Vegas Review Journal in both 2003 and 2013 and UNLV magazine Summer of 2013.
The UK based National Association of Instrument Repairers magazine, “The Intrepid Repairer” featured a vintage restoration by Neil twice in 2015
The Guild of American Luthiers magazine, “American Lutherie” published an article by Neil in their Fall 2010 edition.
Neil’s Vegas Guitars Custom Shop is the only repair shop in town that guarantees all work. If you want to know anything else about Neil – just ask him.
“I treat everybody like a best friend until they give me a reason not to – after all we only get one go round on this planet right!” – Neil Smith
Written by Denver, CO journalist Gilbert Suzuki
Review Journal Video article on Neil Smith.