Ken Bebensee has been designing and building custom electric/acoustic stringed instruments since 1984. He built his first guitar in high school and continued to learn more skills through trial and error, and also, “asking lots of questions to anyone who knew anything about instruments.” Ken found inspiration in the fine work of Stradivarius and D’Aquisto who invented improvisational designs that have continually influenced the techniques of all luthiers to follow.
In 1989, whilst studying in San Luis Obispo for a degree in Engineering and Industrial Technologies at Cal Poly State University, Ken Bebensee began his business, KB Guitars and Basses, in his garage. Since then, Ken has been busily building custom orders for many musicians including Robert Hurst, David Gross, and as of 2013, completed 150 custom orders, so far. Ken produces highly functional works of art combined with musical instrument engineering.
In 2001, Ken moved to the small mining town of North San Juan, located in Northern California. His shop is a renovated barn in the small community of Willow Springs near the historic North San Juan cemetery.
Ken brings not only his many years of experience to his luthiery livelihood, but also his gentle heart, inventive mind, and passionate soul, resulting in a unique craftsmanship which is several years in the making. It takes a long time to build extraordinary instruments that play as good as they look. He says, “When I started out (before accepting custom orders), I was able to build 15 instruments a year. Ken now spends much more time on each instrument, often the customer may request inlays or wood binding and carvings which require hours of concentration, sometimes under a magnifying glass. Many of the new instruments are arch-top acoustics, fully carved inside and out. Though, Ken still builds solid body and semi-hollow body instruments to order. .
After twenty-six years of perfecting his artistic vision, technical skill, and creative designing, Ken has held well to his word that his, “… intention is to build instruments that really work well, sound and play great and will last forever.”
Each instrument is crafted of exceptional quality into a highly functional work of art. Every instrument will continue to be unique and built to the KB standard of excellence.