2010-10-13 / Front Page

The Guitar Hero of Nelsonville

by Annie Chesnut

Above: Musician, technician, and inventor, Pat Cummings, stands in front of the Nelsonville iGuitar workshop window display. Below: A striking example of Ray Memmel’s custom inlay work decorates the neck of an iGuitar. Annie Chesnut Above: Musician, technician, and inventor, Pat Cummings, stands in front of the Nelsonville iGuitar workshop window display. Below: A striking example of Ray Memmel’s custom inlay work decorates the neck of an iGuitar. Annie Chesnut A lot of folks in Putnam County already know Pat Cummings as a gregarious and multitalented musician, who, along with his wife, Susi, and their grown sons, Gavin and Ian, provides accompaniment for local musicals, festivals, fundraisers, and other events that offer the opportunity for local talent to shine.

But Pat, who grew up on Long Island as part of a musical family and relocated to Putnam Valley several decades ago, is also an accomplished electrical engineer. Managing to combine the two things he loves most and does best, he is now the enthusiastic proprietor of the iGuitar Workshop on Main Street in Nelsonville.

Pat has spent the last few years of his professional life perfecting a now patented technique for connecting stringed instruments to computers via a standard USB port.

Band, the USB connection allows the musician to com-Annie Chesnut Band, the USB connection allows the musician to com-Annie Chesnut iGuitar technology allows a guitar to become the basis of an entire electronic composing and recording process. Using a basic software program like Garage Band, the USB connection allows the musician to compose, arrange, and record music for any number of orchestral parts, and even generate sheet music of the finished product.

Pat gave the PCN&R a demo, laying down simple cello, viola, and violin tracks, one instrument at a time, using just a laptop and an electric guitar. The result was a thoroughly original—and beautiful—baroque style string trio, complete with annotated, on-screen sheet music.

Pat’s history in the business goes back to working at Gibson Guitars and with former partner Brian Moore to form Brian Moore Guitars. “In Brewster we built high-end custom guitars combining wood and high tech composite material, and then switched to an all-wood design, since this is the type preferred by [most] guitarists,” Pat told the PCN&R. “We added the cool [iGuitar] technology to our USA guitars but it raised the price significantly (to over $4,000) so we explored getting a more affordable guitar.” They found a Korean factory that was building high quality instruments for Gibson and Fender—and had them make the first iGuitar models, priced at $1,500. “When we built USA models we had four employees, and when we imported we grew to 15 employees,” Pat said proudly.

Pat Cummings composing in his Nelsonville workshop. Pat Cummings composing in his Nelsonville workshop. Along the way Pat met Patterson carpenter and contractor Ray Memmel. Ray is also a brilliant inlay artist, and works with Pat on custom inlaid necks for guitars and basses. The “World Peace” guitar (see photo) with the phrase inlaid in mother-of-pearl in 13 different languages, would likely sell for around $15,000, Pat estimated. Another neck features a gorgeous turquoise dolphin leaping from the ocean’s waves.

Pat Cummings holds a guitar with Ray Memmel’s “World Peace” inlay. Pat Cummings holds a guitar with Ray Memmel’s “World Peace” inlay. Pat clearly understands his customer base, and hopes that the convenience of producing high-quality digital music from virtually any electric stringed instrument will become the next “must-have” for serious composers and players. “Guys with guitars are like women with shoes,” Pat said, smiling. “Everybody has more than one.”

The iGuitar Workshop location is special because it is one of the few full-service guitar repair facilities in this part of the Hudson Valley, performing a variety of guitar services in addition to technology upgrades to the iGuitar. USB Audio system. Cummings emphasized that upgrades are available on most styles of acoustics and electrics with the most common types of bridges, such as Les Paul® style, standard Strat®, and original Floyd Rose® style.

The USB port on one of Cummings’s guitars. The USB port on one of Cummings’s guitars. “We are giving guitarists an opportunity to upgrade their existing instruments with our patented USB technology, plus piezo acoustic and 13- pin systems, giving them more control of the music creation and recording process on the computer,” he said.

The iGuitar Workshop, at 290 Main Street, Suite #3, in Nelsonville, is open to customers most afternoons from about 2pm to 6pm. Pat emphasized that it’s always best to make an appointment. Contact the Workshop at 845-809-5347 x226; email: sales@iguitarworkshop. com or visit iguitar. com.

“I became involved very early on and was production manager from 1994 through 2000, so I was instrumental in helping to get the company off the ground. My inlay work is both award-winning and world famous. I work from a whole palette of color and materials—abalone, mother of pearl, paua, gold lip, silver, brass, gold, nickel, ivory, reconstituted stone, and, of course wood and wood veneers. I still do all of the custom inlay and wood work for iGuitar.

Ray Memmel

Inlay Artist

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