Bill Conklin, founder of Conklin Guitars, passed away at his home in Springfield, Missouri, on October 29. He was 58.
Conklin began playing bass at age 12. Passionate about music and art, he would sketch unusually shaped guitars and basses, and first built an instrument as a senior in high school. Interest in it led him to take on repair work and modifications for friends and other players. At just 20, he started Conklin Guitars, continuing with repair work but also supplementing orders for custom builds with refinish jobs, pickup and vibrato installs, and other mods. In 1988, he married and moved to Springfield to open a new shop where he focused on building, his designs guided in part by customers who wanted unusual shapes, exotic woods, and unique configurations like his extended-range basses with seven, eight, nine, and 11 strings.
Conklin is survived by his wife, Teresa, three stepchildren, and extended family.
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.