Ed Roman, renowned guitar builder, dies at 61

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — As a guitar-maker for the stars, Ed Roman found a platform for fierce opinions about his commercially manufactured competition, exhorting musicians to drop what he called "misdirected ignorant brand loyalty."

His own guitars found their way into the hands of everyone from Ted Nugent to British rockers Eric Burdon of The Animals and John Entwistle of The Who. Roman, sometimes likened to a Viking for his red hair, was unafraid to unleash self-described politically incorrect opinions about foreign-made products, chain stores and corporate guitar manufacturers.

But his daughter remembers a soft side to his big, brash personality. She remembers him taking care of her pet hamster, letting the critter roll around in a plastic ball amid an office brimming with expensive guitars.

"He had a very kind, gentle heart," Lindsey Star Roman said.

Roman died Dec. 14 at his home following an illness, his daughter said. He was 61.

"He's going to be remembered with a smile. He made everyone laugh," she told the Associated Press Thursday. "And he's certainly going to be immortalized through his guitars."

Roman, whose critiques found an outlet on the voluminous "Guitar Rants" section of his personal website, started playing the instrument as a youth in Stamford, Conn. His inspiration was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Ventures, a prolific instrumental combo most active in the 1960s.

Roman worked on motorcycles before turning to guitar building in 1976, because "he always wanted to make something better," his daughter said.

"He was fortunate to meet most of his heroes," she said.

Roman, tired of East Coast winters and observing that "everyone eventually comes to Vegas," moved to Las Vegas in 2000 and opened a large shop there in 2001, according to his daughter.

His time in Sin City brought him — and his wide range of custom guitars — close to other famous musicians, including Marie Osmond and country musician Keith Urban.

Also a singer and a bassist, Roman was in the process of recording albums of his own before his unexpected death last week.

Roman's Las Vegas store remains open. In lieu of a funeral, a memorial concert is planned for Roman's birthday, Feb. 24.

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