A Glimpse Into Rauen Guitars’ Background and Clientele

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In 1982, Denny left his job as designer and production manager with Dean Guitars and founded Rauen Guitars. In the early years, the shop was a place where musicians came to have a "one of a kind" custom guitar built. Six years later, he moved the business to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was also the year Guitar Player Magazine featured Denny in an article as one of the nation's finest luthiers.

One can't speak of this period of time without mentioning Denny's children, Lindsay and Josh, who were often hanging around the shop. Lindsay and Josh developed quite a reputation for the pranks they played on clients, including the time Raymond Kane (master Hawaiian slack-key guitarist) caught them imitating mice chewing his pants leg. Fortunately, Ray had a great sense of humor.

The focus of work has evolved over the years, and the quality of the work, as well as attention to detail, is second to none. Denny's passion for working on instruments and getting the most out of them can be seen as well as heard.

The focus of work has evolved over the years, and the quality of the work, as well as attention to detail, is second to none. Denny's passion for working on instruments and getting the most out of them can be seen as well as heard.

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Meet Denny Rauen, Master Luthier

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Denny was brought up one of ten children in a southern suburb of Chicago. He began playing guitar by spending time after school picking instruments off the rack at Lyon & Healy and Sears & Roebucks. In 1963, at the age of ten, he saved up enough paper route money to purchase a used Gibson LGO from J Reynolds Music Store and the love affair with the guitar began.

Some of his favorite memories include playing on the streets of San Francisco in the early ‘70s and two album projects, the RAUEN BOYS with his son Josh. Today, his passion for music continues. Performing solo and occasional gigs with son Josh and wife Pamela, a founding member of the SQUEEZETTES, Denny also plays a mean bagpipe.

From the mid-'70s to 1982, Denny was production manager and designer for two Chicago area guitar manufacturers; S.D. Curlee and Dean Guitars. At the time, he was in his early ‘20s, making him one of the youngest designers and production managers for a major guitar manufacturer in the country.

His designs include the SD Curlee Liberty Bass, Dean Guitars “Dean Baby” series (used in ZZ Top music video), the Shrimpfork headstock, as well as the final redesigning of the original Dean V headstock, creating a different string angle for better tuning.

During this period, Denny also ran a repair business out of his basement on the weekends. This work for a diverse group of musicians was important in developing refinements to meet the intricate differences required for the many changing styles of music—something not required in his job designing for the international marketplace.

In 1978, Denny invented the multi-radius fretboard in his basement shop. Today the conical fretboard is often referred to as "compound radius." Several years after applying this creation to his own custom-built guitars and repair shop refretting, he published “Multi-Radius Fretboards” in American Lutherie and The String Instrument Craftsman.

Sharing ideas is a common tradition amongst luthiers, and Denny is proud to have contributed. To this day, luthiers around the world use this idea that allows a guitarist to bend notes while retaining a light action

During this period, Denny also ran a repair business out of his basement on the weekends. This work for a diverse group of musicians was important in developing refinements to meet the intricate differences required for the many changing styles of music—something not required in his job designing for the international marketplace.

In 1978, Denny invented the multi-radius fretboard in his basement shop. Today the conical fretboard is often referred to as "compound radius." Several years after applying this creation to his own custom-built guitars and repair shop refretting, he published “Multi-Radius Fretboards” in American Lutherie and The String Instrument Craftsman.

Sharing ideas is a common tradition amongst luthiers, and Denny is proud to have contributed. To this day, luthiers around the world use this idea that allows a guitarist to bend notes while retaining a light action

Jeff GreenRiver Ditzenberger (a.k.a River), Luthier

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Outstanding luthier and all-around great human Jeff Ditzenberger, pictured here, giving an early 1950s Hofner a test run after completing setup work. A talented craftsman, his fretwork and setups are second to none.

Playing guitar since childhood, River is a guitarist and singer in the rock band POWERWAGON. A straight-up, no-frills, heavy rock band out of Madison, Wisconsin started in the ‘90s.

Playing guitar since childhood, River is a guitarist and singer in the rock band POWERWAGON. A straight-up, no-frills, heavy rock band out of Madison, Wisconsin started in the ‘90s.