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LoBue Guitars/Guitar Lab (206 Thompson)

Bob Sindorf

During this time and incredible amount of talented professional luthiers and electronics wizards graced these doors. Custom guitar builders extrordinaire Sherwood “Woody” Phifer and Ralph Novak , pickup gurus Larry Di Marzio and Steve Blucher, renowned sculptor Bob Sindorf, Fender marketing exec Ritchie Fliegler, and a host of many other talented artists all worked with LoBue.

Phifer, a college kid on summer break was in NYC looking for an electronic component and happened upon the Guitar Lab. Phifer was already an accomplished wood sculptor but knew nothing of building guitars. LoBue was seeking an intern and after a short talk, Phifer never returned to school. Ed Diehl remembers Phifer and said that he was a fine luthier.

Novak came to the Guitar Lab working part time on the Saturdays. He began by being the “wiring guy” handling pickup installations and electronic modifications. Later, setups and fret milling became his specialty. He came on to work for LoBue

Ralph Novak
Charles Lobue

fulltime in about a year. He worked with LoBue from 1974 through 1981.

LoBue wanted his work to be perfect. He had an eye for detail and an ear for what he wanted to hear. For his own use though sometimes “working” was good enough. The guys used to tease him about his old Karmann Ghia. It is said that it went fine in one direction but due to a broken tie rod, in order to park the car, you had to get out and manually turn the wheel with your hands to get the wheels to the curb.

It wasn’t unusual that LoBue might have 6 guys working with him at any one time but they may only work one day a week. They would come in, LoBue would have a bit of work well suited for each guy and they would do what they did best. Early on Phifer became LoBue’s “right hand man”, LoBue recognizing his exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail. As Novak had more time to dedicate, he worked closely with Phifer and LoBue and became LoBues’ right hand man in later years when Phifer went on to open his own company, Phifer Designs.


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The Beginning (West 48th Street)
LoBue -Thompson (701 7th Avenue
LoBue Guitars/Guitar Lab (206 Thompson)
Alex Musical/Guitar Lab (165 W 48th Street)
LoBue Guitars (394 Hayes)