In some sense, the guitars made by Wallace Detroit Guitars
are over 300 years old.
Since 2014, Wallace Detroit Guitars has been transforming salvaged wood into electric guitars. The company recently released the Firehouse Series, a new limited-edition line of guitars made of maple and pine from the old Detroit Fire Department Headquarters downtown. Mark Wallace, president of the instrument maker, estimates that the wood comes from trees that were growing in Detroit as far back as the 1700s.
Wallace has used wood from the David Whitney Building, the Theodore Levin Courthouse, and the Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center to build his guitars. A call from his friends at the Architectural Salvage Warehouse tipped him off about a new load of wood that arrived from the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters.
"These guitars have a great story and they look great, but they're also great to play," says Wallace. "It's like a Cadillac. They're great to look at but they're also great to drive."
The building at 250 W. Larned St. downtown was built in 1929, though the Detroit Fire Department had operated at the site since the 1840s. In 2013, DFD left their longtime home to share a headquarters with the Detroit Police Department on the western edge of downtown.
The wood reclaimed from the old headquarters is a result of it being converted into the Detroit Foundation Hotel, a boutique hotel complete with over 100 rooms, a bar, restaurant, and even a "podcast studio." The hotel purchased one of the Firehouse Series guitars for display.
The limited edition series features twelve guitars, ten of the company's flagship single-cutaway design and two of its new offset body shape design. The guitars are built by hand; even the electric pick-ups are hand-wound.
"We want to be part of the city's long history of people that know how to make things," says Wallace.
The Firehouse Series guitars can be found online
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