About Chance Walte, Owner
Owner, technician, & builder
Chance Walte is a seeker, questioner and tireless experimenter. For more than twenty years he has utilized guitars and basses as the tools to study organized sound. From birdsong to Bach he has listened with a loving ear and responded to the music around him.
Over two decades, he recorded modifications to the tuning, setup and construction of the instruments at his disposal, using the same three songs for control. In this way, he became very familiar with the variables involved in sculpting a tone.
Running parallel to this private study was a public life of club gigs, teaching, tech work, retail sales, and purchasing. The more time he spent working with clients and students to help them find their own tones and express themselves, the more rewarding this service became to him.
A series of full-immersion programs at several respected schools of luthiery complemented his work. Spending time as a buyer going to trade shows and touring factories helped hone his understanding of the industry. Eventually, he stopped performing regularly and began focusing on writing, experimenting, tech work, and teaching.
After several years at a pro shop in a major market, he formulated a plan for a shop of his own. Two accidents -- one with an off-road vehicle and one involving a Jeep rolled on the way back from N.A.M.M. 2004 -- resulted in injuries which further cemented his letting go of club gigs in favor of working with other players on their sounds, songs, and gear.
His plan? A small, full-service shop dedicated to high-quality gear and personal attention to customers' needs.
After meeting the love of his life on a trip to Antarctica, he proposed and relocated to her home city of Portland, Oregon. It was in this way that, after time spent in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Austin, he opened Fearless Guitars in the Pacific Northwest. The summer of 2005 was marked by the birth of both Fearless Guitars and his first child. Both have made him very happy.
What is a Fearless Guitar?
A Fearless Guitar is the right guitar in the right hands at the right time. It is Excalibur--but in this case drawn out of a hard case, not from a rock. It has been engineered, modified if necessary, and set up to do exactly what its owner (and its owner's hands) requires and wants. A Fearless Guitar doesn’t fight its player: It enables its player to perform at the peak of his/her ability so he/she can focus on expression, not execution.
How do I find my Fearless Guitar?
1. Realize that, unlike a pocket knife. there is no such thing as the "Swiss Army Guitar. The Fearless Guitar that belonged to Stevie Ray Vaughan would have been all but unplayable by Steve Vai. A Fearless Guitar will make the player’s most important sounds and techniques happen easily. It will not, however, be equally good at everything. To be the best at some things means a sacrifice of others. Most players will eventually own more than one Fearless Guitar.
2. Look at the elements that contribute to the experience of playing guitar. The way a guitar fits your body is as important to performance as the wood it is made out of. The pickup load and mass of hardware are also crucial. The neck-to-body joint and the gauge and material of the strings play a big role, and the action, relief and tuning of the instrument are huge. These factors mean that your Fearless Guitar will not necessarily be the same model or have the same tweaks or setup as do your heroes’ instruments.
3. Play a lot of guitars and evaluate their effectiveness for you personally. This is important, and much more fun than simply reading reviews and checking specs.
4. Experiment with the closest thing you have found to a Fearless Guitar. Have the instrument set up and dialed in by a professional tech several times to determine the right action, relief, and tuning. Trying different string types and gauges is part of this process. Consult with your tech about whether any changes to hardware and pickups might be beneficial. After these final refinements are made, you will own a Fearless Guitar.
5. Expect to periodically repeat these steps in order to accommodate all of the different sounds you want to make, as well as to allow for growth and changes in your technique.
This may not be the only way to find a Fearless Guitar, but realistic expectations, education, and experimentation will always work. You can apply this process to a custom-ordered dream guitar, or to your search for your second or third Fearless Guitar.