Jack’s Journal: Ainesis Guitar Company in Traverse City

There’s a little guitar store in downtown Traverse City where musicians come to find like-minded folk and enjoy a finely made instrument. The shop sells major names, but specializes in home grown locally made guitars.

“We’ve got six other builders in the area that are doing acoustics, electrics, basses. We’ve got some other people doing mandolins and ukuleles that we’re just talking to, too, so it’s expanding,” explains guitar maker Gene Hansen. 

Gene own’s the shop, Ainesis, but he’s a builder, too. Got his first guitar lesson in junior high, then put his wood shop classes to good use.

“In junior high and high school, I was always interested in wood shop, I liked working with my hands. Actually, in high school, my sophomore year of high school, I built my first guitar. Not much of a guitar, but it was a first. You gotta start somewhere.”

After 20 years in the Airforce, he retired and took a leap of faith and became a guitar builder. He uses local wood. Even wood supplied by the customer if there is a sentimental value. He’s known for his smooth, personally fitted necks. And when the guitar is right, he says you know it!

“When you find that guitar that really rings and sings to ya, you pick it up and right away you can see in their eyes. They light up and perk up and you can just tell that’s the instrument that sings to them.”

A love of music and working with his hands that shined as a teen and held on through the Airforce, is now flourishing in a little shop in downtown TC.

Guitars have a feel, familiarity and to a player, hand-made means personal. Gene and the other area craftsmen who make these guitars embrace that. 

Find Ainesis on Facebook, too.