About Custom Instruments

Originally from Finland, Ari Lehtela has been involved in music in North America for over three decades. Playing music professionally in Canada and the U.S. throughout the 1970s and 80s Ari eventually turned his attention to building guitars. Around 1990, Ari began to toy with the idea of designing and building his own guitar. This idea was solidified after meeting a local Charlotte (NC) builder, Luke Lukuer. Impressed by the sound and playability of Luke’s instruments, Ari realized that handmade was the only way to go. Another interest that continues to hold Ari’s attention is fine art and design — Ari holds a degree in fine art.
“As I delved further into luthiery, I realized I could bring together my various interests into one endeavor.” With over 25 years of experience in building guitars, I continue that experience by drawing from my influences and by challenging with every instrument I build.” — Ari Lehtela

“Ari’s guitars have the sound and playability (not to mention good looks) that only a musician/luthier could build. He’s also the kind of luthier that wants to get inside your ‘musical head’ to find what kind of sound you’re actually looking for and what fits your physical requirements. These are truly custom instruments.” — Mark Robinett, musician and owner of 3 Lehtela guitars

Lehtela guitars are truly custom instruments that are designed for the individual player. The tone and playability, design and construction, are unsurpassed.



Harmony and balance between function and esthetic is one of my primary objectives as a guitar builder.

For me, these are the essential elements of good design. A well-designed instrument will exhibit uniformity of sound in all registers of the neck. Essentially, the ‘ sweet-spot ‘ is experienced throughout the neck. This is achieved by having rigidity and resonance in their appropriate places — rigidity in the neck and the carved or bent sides of the body, resonance localized within the soundboard.

Similar qualities are achieved in solidbody instruments as well. Body resonance is optimized by usage of aged, light or medium weight tonewoods dimensioned to the the right thickness.

In addition to the above considerations, I find it important to let the player participate in shaping the sound of the instrument. While the player’s touch is an important part of the equation I add to that by offering modular, sound-shaping options such as the adjustable side soundholes and movable floating pickups found in many of the models. In the end, each instrument is brought to a finish with an appropriate amount of oil varnish or lacquer for the soundboard of the hollowbodied instruments. Finally, I tune each instrument as a player (my background includes more than 30 years of jazz guitar experience) and my last question is : Do I feel 100% confident to gig with this instrument? — Ari Lehtela

What to expect in a Lehtela guitar

~ Each instrument is built to the specs of the player

~ The various tonewoods found within the instrument have been aged in our shop for a minimum of one year

~ Attention to detail throughout every part of the instrument

~ Quality woods, parts and components

~ Workmanship warranty to the original owner


~ Dual option neck is available on certain models with following options:

– fretted & fretless neck

– fretted & hybrid neck ( fretted/fretless split )

– two different scale lengths: standard  guitar scale / baritone scale

Custom Instrument Pricing –

Pricing varies according to the grade of wood and custom features. Below is a general base price guide:

Solidbody electric      $ 3995

Acoustic, parabolic    $ 5500

Acoustic, bowl body   $ 6995

Carved top & back     $ 7550

Double neck model    $ 7000 solidbody, $ 8500 hollowbody