This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue

Of all the quintessential sounds of the 1950s and ’60s, one instrument stands out from the rest.

The electric guitar defined the styles of rock ’n’ roll, blues, and rhythm and blues, and now two brothers in Kansas City are bringing that sound to life again with a line of handmade guitars.
Identical twins Shaun and Mark Penechar, thirty-four, are co-owners of Fountain City Guitarworks, a shop specializing in stringed instrument repair. However, the brothers also create specialty electric guitars under the brand Seüf Guitars. (Seüf rhymes with “knife.”)

“What we’re trying to recreate is the popular guitars from the ’50s and ’60s,” Shaun says.

Seüf was founded in 2007 by Dave Seuferling, Mark and Shaun’s mentor. Dave’s two-man operation was expanding, so they brought Mark in to help around the shop. Gradually, Mark took on more and more of the building process. In 2013 when Dave’s assistant moved, Shaun joined the shop. The Penechar brothers were working full time with Seüf Guitars by 2015, handling all steps of the guitar-making process.

In 2017, the pair moved from Independence to Kansas City and founded Fountain City Guitarworks to handle repairs and custom builds on their own. At that time, Dave had wanted to step away from the business for family and work obligations, so he passed Seüf Guitars to the Penechars, who promised they would keep the business going.

The guitar brand retains Dave’s last name because the brand had built up some name recognition over the years and they were maintaining Dave’s methods, Shaun says, to keep the brand consistent. Part of what makes a Seüf guitar appealing is its handmade quality.

Fiesta Red Seüf Original

“We want our guitars to feel like those old guitars and look like those old guitars but be a modern, reliable instrument,” Shaun says. The guitars include a few modern upgrades, including a better fitting neck and a flatter fingerboard radius for better playability on the upper frets, but the guitars themselves are made the old-school way, by hand. “Since we have the time to stray away from the automated day-to-day production methods they would have been using back then, we can put a little more attention to detail in there,” he says.

A Seüf guitar takes four to six months to complete. The only part of the process that is not done by hand is at the very beginning. The shape of the guitar is cut using a machine. As Shaun says, “The wood doesn’t care who cuts it.” From there, every subsequent step is done by hand: sanding, staining, fretwork, and pickups. “Everything that’s important to how the guitar is going to play—we do that by hand,” he says.

In the shop, the work is divided evenly among Mark, Shaun, and their apprentice Ada Brumback. Shaun handles most of the painting and finishing work, while Mark does electronics and fretting. “He’s way more efficient at it than I am,” Shaun says. After working together for so long, the two have developed an easygoing cadence to their work—they even live together. “We’re pretty much always around each other,” Shaun says.

Seüf guitars come in four models, but almost every aspect can be customized within certain parameters. Clients can choose color, fret wire, neck shape, profiles, wood, and more for a truly personalized instrument. or