Andrew Benson, 2011

Praxis Guitars LLC was founded in 2011 by Andrew Benson to explore the concept of open source guitars. The dream goes back to 2005, when Andrew wondered what would happen if people shared guitar designs openly, and could fabricate them with automated machinery. With this dream in hand, he promised to build his brother a guitar for his birthday. It took 10 years before that guitar was completed.

Andrew learns to translate code into guitars

Praxis Guitars originated at Club Workshop, a hackerspace in Denver, where the equipment required could be rented for a low monthly fee. After a year of prototyping different designs, Andrew took the project to the Bay Area Maker Faire in 2011.

As development continued, a kickstarter was launched to buy a CNC wood router for the company. The kickstarter failed, and development moved to software, where iteration was much cheaper.

The Kimura Gumo after the final coat of Tung Oil

The Kimura Gumo was carved by hand in 2013 to provide a test bed for digitally capable guitars. The guitar has undergone many different changes to scope and hardware, evolving over the years. This guitar was the basis for the “Wizard Class” of guitars offered during the next kickstarter, which also failed.

The Kimura Gumo in 2016

Not long after the second failed kickstarter, Andrew was divorced and homeless living in his van. During that time, Praxis Guitars kept moving forward, with a custom CNC built in a friend’s garage. A musician who had heard about the project and was sad to see it fail donated enough money to finish the CNC.

It was a comfortable van to live in.

Over the years, Andrew had been collecting parts to build a CNC. The primary structural members were once his father’s desk, and the linear guidance system was taken (legally) from the shuttered Denver Ball factory.  The first iteration of the machine had trouble with precision, and so it was programmed to make new parts for itself out of some scrap aluminum.

The Praxis Guitars CNC was built from scratch, almost entirely out of scavenged materials.

In 2014, Praxis Guitars found a new home at the Fusion Factory, a Denver community art space. During most of this time, Andrew was living in his van and working for a moving company to pay the workshop rent.

The poster from Praxis Guitar’s musical showcase at the Fusion Factory.

Praxis Guitars threw a launch party in the spring of 2015 to try to go into regular production, but a crippling wave of depression kept the project from succeeding. At this time, Andrew had begun to rent a living space at the Fusion Factory as well. Andrew sold the van for a few months rent, but ultimately was unable get the company to financial viability. Andrew left the Fusion Factory at the end of 2015.

During this time Andrew started a new band with Three other Denver artists that develop musical instruments. DAC theater was born, reigniting Andrew’s passion for music performance. All of the music and visuals are composed in real time, with every set being unique.

Andrew recently quit his day job (again) to work on Praxis Guitars full time. Praxis Guitars got access to a shared workshop space in South Denver, and will be opening up a guitar gallery where customers can try out new instruments.
Feel free to browse the instrument archive as well.