Craig Goodson is a connoisseur of guitars.
When Goodson, a sergeant with the Odessa Police Department, is not running the traffic unit, Goodson spends some quality “me” time making acoustic and electric guitars from scratch.
Goodson, a 48-year-old veteran of law enforcement who has worked for the OPD for the past 15 years, said he’s been doing woodwork since he was eight and has been engaging in his sideline passion for more than a decade.
“It’s an art form for me,” Goodson said. He attended Odessa College and graduated from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin with a degree in Art and a minor in history.
“I’m making art for someone who’s going to make art with it,” Goodson said.
The affable, lifelong Odessa resident has made only 15 guitars in six years for himself, family and friends. Goodson said he found the creative process in making a musical instrument that would produce something artistic a soothing endeavor.
“I guess the endgame is that when I retire that’s all I want to do,” Goodson said. “But it’s kind of therapeutic … when I’m doing it I don’t think about being a cop. It’s kind of a de-stressor.”
Depending on the kind of specifications and the type of design a guitar needs to be, it could take weeks to produce a custom-made guitar from what he said is a block of wood.
“It’s a very, very complex process,” Goodson said. “The finish process takes two weeks. All finishes are done in lacquer.”
An electric guitar can take three weeks to make, said Goodson, who developed his ear for music and sound over the years. But without police work, Goodson said an acoustic guitar could take longer.
“If that’s all I did it probably would take about a month,” Goodson said, adding that the timeframe changes with the demands of his job. Right now, he said it would take two or three months.
“If you love it, you’ll figure it out,” he said. “I was never one to say, ‘I can’t.’ ”
Goodson played lead guitar in a band called “Straight Jackets,” which was comprised of police officers who would play at various venues in Midland and Odessa.
But the demands of law enforcement led Goodson and his band mates to disband. Goodson’s preoccupation with guitar making began when his then-8-year-old son wanted an electric guitar Goodson made.
Goodson has been making the musical instruments ever since, he said.
“An acoustic guitar and an electric guitar are two different things,” Goodson said. “But acoustic guitar you use hand tools, not power tools.”
Sam Newton, a 23-year-old Odessan who attended college with Goodson’s son, said he was so impressed with Goodson’s craftsmanship and passion to what he does. During a visit, Newton was spellbound.
“I never really was into guitar making until I saw what Craig did,” Newton said. “The level of expertise he put into making every guitar is amazing.”
Newton saw the tools Goodson uses for his passion, and realized that while Goodson makes it look easy, it wasn’t, especially considering the time Goodson put into perfecting his work, Newton said.
“It’s really remarkable to see how easy he makes it look,” Newton said. “Yet, he’s been doing it forever.”
“It’s really something to see,” Newton continued. “Just seeing it, it’s really cool.”
Reading, research and years of meeting the demands of his craft have given Goodson a technician’s insight into the kind of wood he uses to make a guitar, to the quality of sound the instrument is supposed to make for a musician’s needs. Cocobolo, mahogany and other specialty woods are the ones Goodson uses for his guitars, which he has to order.
“I don’t use cheap material,” Goodson said.
Ideally, Goodson said he would love to open up a guitar shop in downtown Odessa following retirement and “have on a Saturday jam session.” The guitars Goodson makes could fetch $850 “and that’s at the low end,” he said.
But Goodson explained that making money off of his work was never a prime motivating factor that fueled his desire to make custom, handmade guitars. There was something else behind it that couldn’t be measured by money, Goodson said.
It was the solace guitar-making brought to him after a day of dealing with bad collisions and fatal car wrecks, as well as the demands of police work, that has made it all worthwhile, Goodson said.
“I never got into it for the money. It’s the getaway,” Goodson said. “I’m going to build guitars as long as I’m able.”
Craig Goodson is a connoisseur of guitars.