Craftsman carves a musical path

WLOS Caleb Smith
Posted at 12:27 PM, Dec 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-28 13:27:42-05

Originally Published: 28 DEC 19 12:39 ET

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    HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) -- Guitarist Caleb Smith has made a name for himself playing with the group Balsam Range, but there is a lot more to him than what you see. After his job of building homes dried up a few years ago, Smith found himself playing with one of the best bluegrass groups in the mountains. But he didn't let his woodworking skills go to waste.

In tonight's Carolina Moment, photojournalist Josh Luckadoo shows us why Smith's handiwork is in such high demand.

"My guitar business kind of took off as an accident," Smith said. "I was pretty much unemployed in 2008, so I'm going to build a guitar and I'm going to see if I can do it."

Smith said he was really proud of the way it sounded and played.

"One guitar turned into two, turned into five, turned into 10, turned into 20, turned into 40 and 50, you know. I've built about 150 guitars," Smith said.

Smith's approach to guitar-making is he wants the instrument to be accurate, feel good, look good, play good and sound good.

"A guitar can sound like a million dollars. And, to a player like me, that may be all that matters," Smith said.

He's made guitars for some great players, including Griff Martin, Brian Sutton and Trey Hensley. And he's made four for the Zac Brown Band.

"When I started guitar making, I never in a million years thought it would become a job, you know, me just trying something, and it's a lot like the way Balsam Range started, too. We just got together in '07, jamming and having a big time. The first two shows that we did, we didn't have a name. Balsam Range didn't exist. We just went as five guys playing bluegrass, and it turned into what it is. And that's kind of how my guitar business did, too," Smith said.

"I just wanted to see if I could do it and see if it would work, and it has. It's worked pretty well. If you're going to do something, do it the best you can."

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