NEW ORLEANS -- Tony Baudier is an artist who used to build cabinets, but on the side he would paint guitars for friends. That got frustrating.
"Man, you putting a $50, $800 paint job on a guitar that's not worth the paint job, so let me build you a nice guitar," Baudier said.
Baudier loved working with wood, so he did the research and said, why not me? He began building guitars, but not just any. These had to be special from the start.
"I go to lumber mills and I shop for the wood myself to make sure the lumber is the best and the driest and the most perfect grain it can be," Baudier said.
And from a Harahan wood shop, one guitar became two, then four, and now less than 10 years later, there are Baudier guitars being played locally.
The Baudier guitars have a certain hot rod automotive look to them. That's by design. Baudier said it's a perfect match. That's because Baudier's first love was fast cars and drag racing, owning and racing them, as a teenager across the country.
So he decided to combine his two passions, and the result is a hot rod themed guitar.
"The baddest engines on the planet are like V8's, so this has got a V8 theme to it. V8 carved into the lumber, pistons on the fret board," Baudier said. "Most people that love rock and roll, love racing and love fast cars and hot rods."
There is little off the table from a design standpoint. One fleur de lis guitar came from lumber, centuries old, out of a building on Bourbon Street being re-done.
Baudier said they're more than guitars to him. They're works of art.
"Everything from the paint job to the sculpture to the woodworking, every piece of that guitar is made to be beautiful and to be totally functional," Baudier said. "My guitars are a functional piece of art."
The wood must dry in his attic for two years before it is ready, and one guitar can take three months or longer to complete.
In this industry battling brand names like Gibson and Fender is gigantic.
"It costs so much money for customer acquisition and brand recognition that it's a hard road to climb, but I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep on doing it forever."
And that makes these, and Tony Baudier, Naturally N'awlins.