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MiVT: Rising Star Guitars

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 1:26 PM EDT
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WINDSOR, Vt. (WCAX) - Neil Laurent is no stranger to a guitar.

“After you’ve been doing it for many years, you know, either you quit or you still do it. And if you love it and you’re good at it, you get better,” he said.

Like many others, he got his start in New York City.

“[I] became a carpenter like most musicians or actors. They have to have a day job to survive,” Laurent said.

For the past 60 years, Laurent has been playing, opening retail shops and repair services across New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire and now, Vermont.

“Still today I got [professional] guitarists that come to me,” Laurent said.

Now, he’s moved on to a new retirement adventure -- Rising Star Guitars.

“They sound good, they look good and they play great,” he said. “So, that’s all people want from a guitar.”

In his Windsor workshop, Laurent spends his days building custom guitars with a serious twist.

“What makes them different is-- visually. They look great hanging on your body, hanging on the wall,” said Laurent, boasting his collection of custom guitars on display in his workspace.

Those New York carpenter days come in handy now, as he builds each one by hand and learns by trial and error.

“I wanted to do stuff that was different but people would recognize. For instance, this is a tele body,” said Laurent.

Amazingly, these unique guitars don’t come with a hefty price tag, comparatively. That’s because the real value is in Laurent keeping his mind and curiosity in check.

And though his days of playing with Peter Tork of The Monkees may have come to a close, Laurent’s passion will never go out of tune.

“If you love what you do, you’ll get by. And I think that’s my motto,” Laurent laughed.

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