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Detective uses reclaimed Detroit wood in guitars

Lisa Roose-Church
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus

Howell – — A Livingston County sheriff’s detective is following his passion for music by turning 100-year-old reclaimed wood from deconstructed Detroit homes into hand-carved guitars.

Curt Novara, owner and operator of Woodward Guitar Co., combs through piles of wood at Reclaim Detroit, a nonprofit organization founded in 2011, which is diverting material taken from Detroit’s 78,000 vacant structures to keep it out of landfills. He is looking for the perfect piece of Douglas fir.

“I always wanted to be a police officer, but guitars always made me happy,” he said. “I didn’t think I could do both together.

“This wood,” Novara explained as he strummed a custom-made guitar, “grew in a forest that was over 100 years old, and the trees grew close together because it was virgin land, and the canopy was so thick the trees grew slower. You’d get tighter growth rings. You get a much better quality of wood and much better sound.”

Mike Grass, owner of The Music Man shop near Brighton, wasn’t sure what to expect when Novara approached him, but he picked up and played a Woodward guitar and was “pleasantly surprised.”

“I can’t quite put it into words how one guitar is better than another,” Grass said. “… It’s really a wonderful instrument that looks, feels and sounds great.”

Novara set out to find a partner who could create the guitar he envisioned. He found George Gorodnitski, owner of Master Guitars in Los Angeles.

Novara selects the wood and planes it before shipping it to Gorodnitski, a luthier who cuts and shapes the wood.

“I carved the first one and I when I put it in my hand I knew it would sing,” said Gorodnitski, a native of Latvia.