After attending his first concert at the age of fourteen – Rush on their Fly by Night tour – Jon Uebele became fascinated with the electric guitar.
“I started buying electric guitars with summer job money, which lead to changing electronics, and eventually moving on to larger more complicated work on them,” he says.
“Eventually, I tried my hand at building a guitar body, which of course, lead to building more bodies. I was hooked. I loved the smell of the different woods I worked on and refining them down to a guitar. I loved almost everything about creating an instrument.”
As Uebele got older, he took several guitar repair courses to learn as much as he could about them.
“Of course, this lead to building even more,” he laughs.
“I completely built my first few guitars in a two-bedroom apartment. What a mess that was, but I did it.”
When it came time, Uebele needed a name to put on these things that were piling up. His passion eventually led to the founding of Jubilee Original Guitars, a Sault-based guitar company.
Originally from Kitchener/Waterloo, Uebele moved to Sault Ste. Marie about two and a half years ago.
“I first visited the Sault about 17 years ago on a vacation with my youngest son,” he says.
“I then came to visit my good friend Keith Conway, who had moved back to the Sault after living in Kitchener-Waterloo for a number of years. I returned to the area a number of times over the years on vacation.”
Over time, Uebele became increasingly disenchanted with the rapid growth in the area he was living.
“I started to consider a move to a smaller town in the future. With my previous vacation experiences, the Sault became a natural choice.”
Once relocated to the Sault, Uebele partnered with his friend Keith to found Jubilee Original Guitars.
“I do most of the building, wood and part sourcing,” says Uebele.
“Keith does some building, but focuses mostly on setup work, photography, product demos and social media for the company.”
Uebele loves most everything about the guitar making process, from the sourcing of the wood to the finished instrument.
“I am interested in using all different types of woods from traditional to unusual species. One of my main goals is to use as much locally-sourced wood as possible in our builds.”
Uebele has been using locally-sourced pine for guitar bodies for over a year now.
“I am starting to use local maple and cedar now. We build most everything from classic designs to one-off customer requests.”
He enjoys working with clients who want to bring their ideas into the design of a custom guitar.
Uebele has partnered with Case’s Music locally to provide an outlet to display and sell Jubilee Original Guitars.
“They can be seen and played there any time during their regular business hours.”
Jubilee, the name of the company, came from a common mispronunciation of Uebele’s name.
“For me and the rest of my family, it has always been a challenge when it comes to our family name. It's been misspelled and mispronounced in every conceivable way, and almost never correctly,” he laughs.
When he was a teenager, Uebele was a goaltender on a hockey team.
“Back then, the teams did not have a goalie sweater in the team set, so goalies had to get their own. When I went looking for one, the shop asked if I wanted my name on the back of it, so I did.”
J. Uebele became Jubilee.
“So when playing hockey, people would read my name and say, ‘Hey Jubilee!’ It was the closest people ever came to pronouncing my name correctly.”
So when it came time to naming his company, it was an easy choice.
“It seemed natural, because it's my name, but it is also partly tongue-in-cheek.”
Find out more about Jubilee Original Guitars, or how to get a custom original design, by visiting them on their Facebook page.
Jubilee Original Guitars can be seen at Case’s Music locally.