Instruments in need of more than just TLC are brought back to life by Montco luthier

Listen 7:01

For many musicians, their instrument is as vital as any part of their body, and when it’s a guitar or similar fretted instrument in need of some TLC, they turn to a luthier to restore what was lost.

NewsWorks Tonight’s Dave Heller visited the workshop of restorative luthier, Tim Huenke, who owns and operates Superior Guitar Works in Flourtown, Pa.

In the music world, star power is revered and Huenke has restored plenty of guitars for celebrities over the decades at his Montgomery County shop. But he doesn’t like to namecheck. Instead, he likes to discuss the difficult projects — antique treasures brought to him in shambles — and the responsibility of working on instruments that hold generations of precious family memories.

“They hand it over to you and say, ‘Make it whole again … Make it right,’ ” Huenke said. “There’s no margin for error. None.”

Each restoration requires a fine balance: make the instrument play like new while authentically maintaining its vintage look and feel. Despite the pressure, his work remains a passion. For Huenke, breathing new life into these instruments is giving them another chance to help humans understand one another.

“In the right hands, there’s not an emotion in the world, not a thought, not a feeling, that can’t be expressed with music,” he said. “I often feel that if anything could bring this world together, it would be music.”

To hear to the full conversation, as well as music played by Tim Huenke and WHYY’s Kimberly Paynter, by clicking the play button above.

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