The shape of a head stock, the shimmering colors in fret markers and the sounds produced by a pickup humbucker are not among the first images that come to mind when contemplating beauty.
But beautiful they are.
Payson resident Floyd Marvin Boyle considers them ---- all steps in making guitars ---- part of an art form that he discovered when he was just 27.
Since then, the now 72-year-old Boyle has managed to perfect every intricacy in hand-crafting electric guitars.
"I try to make a guitar more than just a playable guitar," Boyle says. "I bring in concepts that make it art."
As he takes his guitars out of their cases, which he also makes, Boyle's pride is apparent. And rightly so.
It took him 98 hours to make his latest guitar, the base of which he hand-cut from quilted maple ---- a wood known for its high quality and cost.
The head stock, the very top part of the guitar on which the tuning machines (also known as gears) are located, is made from lacewood and is cut in a bold, asymmetrical shape.
The back of the finger board smoothly leads up to the base of the head stock, where it ends in a sleek, curved crown ---- Boyle's signature mark.
On this particular guitar ---- his ninth ---- Boyle made his own fret markers, which help guide the guitarist along the finger board and know in which chord they are. The tiny markers, made from abalone shell, are inlaid on the finger board. Their white and silver tint gleams in contrast to the base's golden-brown hue and, in combination with the bird shape that Boyle gave them, appear to levitate above the guitar.
As minute as these details sound, Boyle says the most toilsome aspect of making a guitar is binding it. The binding, which Boyle strips from old rubber inner tubes, encircles the entire base and hides the line where the guitar's top and the bottom meet.
On his latest guitar, Boyle made the binding white, accenting the fret markers.
"I've come to the conclusion that you can never do anything good enough," Boyle says. "It all depends on how much time you want to spend on it. I would make a guitar, then I could see the mistakes and wasn't satisfied. So I'd make another one and see it was lacking, so then I'd make another one ..."
Although Boyle made his latest guitar in a little under 100 hours, he says when he first started making them, it took a lot longer and he made many more mistakes.
Evidence of Boyle's perfectionism is obvious in his basement shop, where he creates the guitars. Among the well-organized, myriad of tools and equipment Boyle needs for his craft, are various old guitar bases and finger boards hanging from the ceiling. They are unfinished, never-to-be-used symbols of mistakes Boyle made in crafting them.
"They're ruined because I was not paying attention and they shattered," Boyle says. "I keep them as a reminder to stay awake."
Boyle's current project, a guitar on which he has already worked 29 hours, also hangs in the shop. Like his most recent guitar, it is made of quilted maple, but doesn't yet have the shine Boyle will add when he brushes it with wood stain.
The long hours and cost of constructing the guitars has prompted Boyle to sell them.
"It's a good hobby," he says. "I'm just going to have to start selling them to continue with that hobby."
Of the nine guitars he has made, Boyle says he cannot possibly sell those to which he is emotionally attached. The very first guitar he made is a double-neck that allows players to alternate between electric and acoustic sounds. That, he would never part with.
Boyle first became interested in guitars when his father taught him how to play the instrument.
"My daddy taught me to play when I was just a little guy -- 8 or 9 years old," he says. "And I've always liked to make things with my hands."
Boyle's background is in construction. He designed and worked on buildings in Tucson up until 1989 when a falling ceiling lodged his head in a wall and broke his neck.
"I'm lucky I'm not dead," he says. "A few inches on either side (of the wall), and I would be."
After months of extensive treatment and recovery, Boyle finally had time to design and build his retirement home for himself and his wife, Clarys, 69.
When it came to choosing a city in which to retire, Boyle says Payson was obvious.
"I've enjoyed retirement," Boyle says. "I like the climate. I like the town, I like the neighbors. I can't think of any other place I'd like to retire to."
Retirement has created in Boyle an aura of calmness and a relaxed nature. Only when he picks up one of his guitars and begins strumming does an intense seriousness grip him.
The hypnotic melodies drifting from the guitar fill the room with light, down-home notes while Boyle taps his left foot to the beat and Mrs. Boyle watches with a smile.
Boyle plays in a nine-member band, Ye Olde Time Music Makers, about eight times a month. They perform at 10:30 a.m. in the Payson Senior Center on the first, second and fourth Monday of every month. They play at 9 a.m. on the third Monday at the Powell House senior community.
Currently, Boyle is preparing to make a violin ---- his very first. After that, he will tackle acoustic guitars. The challenge of the two instruments is that they are hollow ---- not solid as are electric guitars ---- and will most likely mean longer hours and greater concentration for Boyle, who is not intimidated by the prospect.
Without the slightest hesitation, he says, "I want the challenge."
To further inquire about Boyle's guitars, call (928) 472-8322.