Karalee resident Reg Cooke makes his Rown instruments, including guitars and violas.
Karalee resident Reg Cooke makes his Rown instruments, including guitars and violas. Rob Williams

Creations tug at the heartstrings

THE beautifully handcrafted string instruments Ipswich resident Reg Cooke carves provide music to everyone's ears but his own.

The 78-year-old Karalee man has created 35 instruments since taking up the hobby 11 years ago including guitars, violins, violas and a bass guitar.

Mr Cooke is hard of hearing and makes the instruments, which could fetch thousands of dollars, at basically no cost for his family and friends.

Looking at his master crafts, it is hard to believe Mr Cooke barely touched a piece of wood after finishing his apprenticeship as a railway carriage maker 50 years ago.

He reacquainted himself with his old skills 11 years ago after retiring from his career as an engineer.

"When I retired I made a list of activities I would like to get involved in," he said.

"I think when people retire they should have a plan of what they want to do. This was plan number one and I haven't got past it. When I was getting started I knew it was something I wanted to do."

Mr Cooke meticulously carved each piece of every instrument, from the individual frets to the neck and body, which he estimates take 200 hours to complete.

For years Mr Cooke has taken his guitars into Word of Mouth Music at Booval to have the sound quality checked by experts.

Sales assistant Johnny Marano said the quality of Mr Cooke's finished product was something to behold.

"Certainly the craftsmanship is something you don't see in mass produced guitars. The sound is awesome because of timbers he uses," he said.

Mr Cooke can be found demonstrating his skills at the Brookfield, Maleny and Cooroy shows.

"Some people care to stay and watch for a while and others tend to want to talk about it," he said.

His wife Gloria said at one Brisbane Wood Show a man offered $5000 cash for one of his guitars.

But it had already been given to one of their grandsons, so the offer was refused.

Mr Cooke is a member of the Australian Association of Musical Instrument Makers.



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