Frankfort dentist is also a musician, guitar maker

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Dentist by day, musician by night — the two may sound like an unlikely combination, but they make perfect sense for a Frankfort dentist who has a love for the arts.

Will Renshaw, who practices at Drs. Renshaw, Wix and Associates, has been in music longer than he's been a dentist.

In fact, his musical interests actually helped him pay his way through dental school at the University of Kentucky.

A guitar player, Renshaw played gigs on nights and weekends while in dental school to support his education. He was also a member of the UK Jazz band.

Today, he continues to play with several bands sporadically around Frankfort, playing a variety of styles, including his favorite, jazz.

Renshaw's musical life and his work as a dentist, he said, are like living in two different worlds.

"I kind of love that," he said

Many patients know about Renshaw's musical life and that's often a conversation point, but not all patients are aware of his musical talent.

Renshaw said the pressure is on when he does local performances where patients and people he knows are in attendance, saying it can be scary.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," he said.

He recalled a time he was playing at the Old Capitol for a "sea of people," and though it was intimidating, he had a blast.

"This has to be the greatest feeling ever," he remembered.

But Renshaw's musical interests go further than playing the guitar; he also handcrafts guitars in his spare time at his home and does instrument repairs for musicians.

The work he does to construct the guitars is extremely tedious, much like his work as a dentist, which he said has been very helpful for this craft.

There are several small pieces that go into the finished product of a guitar. He has to individually cut each piece of wood, tiny pieces have to be glued together and the pearl designs and frets Renshaw places on his instruments are difficult to handle, even with a dental background.

"I'm used to working with incredibly small pearl," he said.

But that's what Renshaw enjoys — working with his hands, a trait he said is passed down from his father, who had a wood shop. Now Renshaw spends as much time as he can constructing and repairing instruments in his own shop.

"It's become a bit of an obsession," he said.

This craft isn't something that can be started instantly. Not all the tools necessary for constructing guitars are available at the hardware store, so Renshaw makes his own jigs, templates and other custom tools.

Inside the workshop in his basement, where he spends a great deal of his free time making instruments, are an assortment of tools, wood and instruments in various stages in the construction process.

Making instruments, he said, "isn't for the faint of heart."

He said — as other instrument makers know — you can finish an instrument only to discover it sounds awful, is out of tune or dysfunctional and have to start the entire process over again.

"You have to love doing it," he said.

And this is no quick process. It takes an average of four to five months to complete a single guitar.

"It's a ton of time," he said.

The finished product, though, is one of a kind.

"There's no two alike," said Renshaw, who plays his own self-crafted guitar at gigs.

Though it may seem tedious and time consuming, the time Renshaw spends in his workshop is very rewarding for him.

"I find it very relaxing," he said.

But that's not the extent of Renshaw's involvement in the arts.

Renshaw, who has two daughters, is a big supporter of the arts and arts education. He also sits on the board at the Grand Theatre.

He said he is very impressed by Frankfort's appreciation and support for the arts and said he and his wife, Anne Taylor, do a lot of volunteer work to support the arts.

"Both of us spend a great deal trying to make the arts available," he said.

When he's not out promoting the arts, Renshaw's dedication in the dentist's office is just as apparent.

Renshaw said it may sound cheesy, but he enjoys talking with his patients, and he sometimes goes over allotted appointment times speaking to them.

"Getting to know these people who sit in my chair and trust me to do this work to them," is his favorite part, he said. "I love those friendships."

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Information from: The State Journal, http://www.state-journal.com

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