From making pet beds out of iMacs to the whole upcycling thing, turning one object into something else has never been more “in.” That’s what makes Nick Pourfard’s craft — building guitars out of old skateboards — that much more impressive.
You see, guitars are not easy to make. And when you add a piece of sporting equipment to the mix with a history of being nicked, cracked and even been bled upon, it’s not what you’d call… a natural fit. But that’s what Pourfard likes about the pursuit, finding matches made in “man”-ufacturer heaven.
“I’ve used as few as four boards and as many as, like, 40 or 50. It’s just all over the place because I’m trying to challenge myself as much as I can,” reveals the 24-year-old San Francisco student, who’s turned his hobby into a bonafide business — run out of his garage and called Prisma Guitars.
Like all business endeavors, designing masterpieces is a simple pursuit, fraught with exactly zero levels of frustration, right? Not so much.
“Doing all that beginning stuff with the boards is the worst… Sanding sucks, but you have to do it. Spraying lacquer is the worst thing ever. At times it takes me, like, 20 hours… sometimes it takes me 40 hours,” confesses Pourfard about the pains of turning something Tony Hawk might air walk with… into something Slash might use.
It’s all in the name of quality. “I want it to be perfect,” says Pourfard.
When it comes to Pourfard’s love of skateboards, the subject actually gets off to a rocky beginning. The first time Pourfard ever skated, the then 12-year-old rode down a hill in San Diego, bit it, and ended up shattering his teeth. He couldn’t eat for two weeks.
Eventually, he recovered, and before too long his instrument of demise became his muse, fueling his passion to create something unique. “When I thought about making guitars out of skateboards, I wanted to make something that I couldn’t buy, something that was sentimental,” reveals Pourfard. “I first made it just for curiosity’s sake. I wanted to see if I could do it, see if it was possible… if it would sound good because I wouldn’t know unless I just did it. Then I did it and it worked.”
Like many successful businesses, it sometimes take a village. Or in this case, a couple of other skilled artisans. Michael Sventin, a machinist for Prisma Guitars, is one of them and points out how guitars and boards are not such an odd couple.
“Skateboarding in a lot of ways is in an illegal activity. Inherently, you’re figuring out how to do something you’re not supposed to do,” admits Sventin. “And you’re definitely not supposed to be taking skateboards and making them into guitars.”
The pressure cracks. The bullet holes. The scars. Much like actual guitars, each skateboard has a soul and a story from those who used it before. Maybe that’s why Pourfard’s guitars sound different, at least according to Bobby Vega, a musician who’s played with Santana, Jefferson Starship and Sly Stone.
“His guitars have a unique sound to them because of the decks,” says Vega before predicting “[Nick] is going to be part of that new generation of builders. Can you even imagine where his talents are going to be in 10 years? 15 years?”
Maybe. But right now, he’s just laboring in his garage…
One masterpiece at a time.