“I’ve always been interested in how things work,” says Aaron Austin. “I was the kid that was taking stuff apart… I was already trying to mod my guitars within a year of playing.”
Austin runs Whiskeytown Stringed Instrument Repair & Service in the lower level of 820 SW Adams, just adjacent to Ear in the Envelope. “My whole family is musical… My uncle started teaching me guitar when I was eight or nine. I started my first band when I was 17. That’s how I got introduced to people in the local music scene.”
After 15 years of repairing his friends’ gear and five years working at a local guitar shop, Austin set out on his own in 2015. With a little help from his aunt, Lizz Barnes, he found space in Peoria’s Warehouse District. “I wanted to have that artisan feel, focused on high-quality repair,” he says. “I wanted it to be more of an experience—and a part of what’s happening down here.”
Guitars come second-nature to Austin, but he works on mandolins, banjos and other stringed instruments as well. He’s also a busy performer and currently plays in three bands—Minsk, Rings and The Great Division—so he knows how to dial in a musician’s unique requirements. “I do a lot of work for touring musicians who need their gear to work a certain way,” he explains, noting that every instrument—and every owner—has its own unique character.
“It’s not so much about getting exact measurements,” he adds. “The instrument will tell me where it needs to be.” For more information, visit facebook.com/whiskeytownrepair or www.whiskeytownrepair.com. a&s