Not even a swelteringly hot day can keep Sacha Dunable from putting in work on his guitars in his small storefront space across the street from a McDonald's in Glendale. Dunable, a 36-year-old L.A. native, is a founding member of the bands Intronaut and Future Usses, and also the creator and owner of Dunable Guitars, his own line of custom guitars, which are built from scratch for each musician who orders one.
His shop has been open for business for a few months now, but he has been into fixing and building guitars for almost eight years. “Working on guitars is what I do, from the time I get up until the time I go to sleep, seven days a week,” he says.
Dunable is best known for forming and fronting the L.A. psychedelic metal band Intronaut, which also features drummer Danny Walker, bassist Joe Lester and additional guitarist Dave Timnick. In addition to playing guitar, singing and songwriting in his own bands, Dunable is an in-demand studio player and guitar tech for both underground metal and mainstream rock bands, working with everyone from Cynic and Conan to Metallica and Linkin Park. And he's an avid guitar, amp and gear aficionado who has been building his own guitars from scratch since 2009.
“It started as a slow thing for friends here,” Dunable says. “At first, I did repairs for lots of friends and on the road, too. Then, years back, I built one for my buddy Leon, who is in Nails, and then people started noticing it, and I was approached by more people to build more.”
Three years ago, he decided to make his side hustle into a legitimate business. By then, he says, he was already turning out more than 50 guitars a year. "Since then it’s only grown," he says. "We are on track to build 200 guitars this year.”
With his Glendale shop, Dunable wants to use his artistic talent and expertise as a musician to create a vibe that not many other stores offer, catering specifically to metal and heavy-rock bands. "I want my shop to be a heavy-music guitar boutique, where people [can] really hear what their stuff is going to sound like,” he says. “There is nothing wrong with going to a big store like Guitar Center, but when you come here, you know whoever is working, including myself, is an expert. We know our shit like no one else. We know all about the gear and have all the advice you need, on everything from pedals [to] strings. Even if you just want to tune your guitars or have them set up, we can do it all.”
Dunable custom guitars and basses, which have names like Cyclops, Yeti and Thunderclapper, are now used by some of the highest-profile names in the metal world. “Mostly guys in the heavier rock and metal bands use my guitars. I have friends in all sorts of bands all over the country,” he says. Dunable’s clients include members of Nails, Power Trip, Conan, Devildriver, High on Fire and Torche.
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With Intronaut, Dunable has kept busy as well, touring all over North America and even playing as far away as India within the past year. Some career highlights, he says, include opening for Tool on an arena tour and filling in for the lead singer of Meshuggah when he was ill. "It’s all been weird but amazing.”
For his latest project, Future Usses, Dunable is joined by ex-Bereft drummer Derek Donley and former Mouth of the Architect touring guitarist Dan Wilburn. The band will play its first L.A. show on Sunday, Sept. 17, at Union. Dunable says the music of Future Usses has been a work in progress for nearly three years. “I would say it’s kind of doom-laden, very heavy, and there are slower riffs with melodic overtones,” he says.
As for Dunable Guitars, its owner hopes to keep growing his business, though he doesn't necessarily have any ambitions to become the next Fender. “I like where I am now,” Dunable says. "We are busy and we have tons of work. I am just letting nature take its course.”