While most children simply play with their toys. Sherwood T. "Woody" Phifer spent his childhood deconstructing them. By the age of 4, he was making his own Phifer built go-carts, bicycles, kites, and remote control glider planes. "If it was a tool or a toy--if it was something I couldn't afford or [something] I simply wanted, I would just make it," he says.
Phifer no longer makes toys: He now builds exquisitely handcrafted electric and acoustic guitars that range in price from $4,900 to $12,000. His 20-year clientele includes musicians such as Ronnie Jordan, Mos Def, Will Lee, Ron Carter, Stanley Clark, Wyclef Jean, and George Benson, all of whom subscribe to Woody's personally coined phrase, "If you don't have a Woody, you just have a guitar."
Although long-standing companies like Fender and Gibson have cornered the market on mass producing electric guitars, Phifer has found his niche. "Most companies use generic hardware parts that are made out of metal and composite materials," he explains. "I have designed my own bridge and tailpiece systems. My bridge is made of wood and is fully adjustable. It provides a more acoustic sound with a longer sustain. I've also developed my own internal structures that enhance the instrument's tone."
Phifer's instruments are carved from maple, Sitka spruce, and African gibbon mahogany in finishes that include bing cherry, indigo blue, purple, and lemon yellow.