My name is Mark Fuqua, and although my guitars don't bear that name, I build every MotorAve guitar myself. There are no employees, no lacky's, and except for the pickups/electronics & some of the hardware, I make everything that goes into them here in my shop, including the finishes. To me, the only way a guitar can be truly exceptional is if all of the many steps are done with the same level of care as the next. Good materials will only produce a good guitar if they're handled correctly, so the actual process and order of these steps is critical to achieving the desired result. In the 50's and 60's the great Gibson guitar company in Kalamazoo employed dozens of experienced, well-trained and dedicated people working in concert to produce an extremely high-quality instrument. Nowadays, those jobs don't exist really, and most of the people who fill them are very inexperienced.. like I was in 1990 when I first started working for Chandler Industries in San Francisco.
I have always been captivated by the electric guitar from moment I first saw one.. way back in the '60's when I discovered the Beatles. That music absolutely ruled my imagination, and Guitars were my new obsession. I drew them endlessly, and not being very good at drawing people, I just drew the guitars being invisibly held on stage, with all kinds of amps and speakers everywhere. (everything with a VOX logo, of course:) When I got older the fascination only deepened, and I eventually left school to pursue a career in Rock & Roll. I just couldn't see the point of doing anything else, and the immediate hardship.. poverty.. wasn't going to deter me. I played in lots of bands in Seattle in the 80's, moving back to San Francisco in '89, just in time to completely miss out on the grunge thing. Not one of my better timed decisions, but whatever, you move on. In San Francisco I continued working as a Hotel waiter, which I'd done in Seattle, but I was starting to really hate it. So I answered an ad in the weekly looking for a 'guitar expert' and got the job at Chandler. At first it was just answering phones and making copies up in the office, but ultimately I was transferred downstairs where I was trained to assemble finished parts into guitars. It was revelatory to me. Before that I think I saw the guitar as sort of a magical thing that only otherworldly beings could produce, and here I was putting them together from parts. I have not worked outside of the guitar business since.
I was not quite 30 at the time, and today I'm over 50. In those years I started my first guitar repair business, worked many years in the vintage guitar business, worked for independent builders, and ultimately had a very lucrative repair shop in LA. I would have continued doing that happily, but by then I'd already built a handful of guitars and two of them got into the hands of Alain Johannes and Joshua Homme. Queens of the Stone Age really put MotorAve on the map, and before I knew it I had orders. I juggled both businesses for a few more years, but ultimately decided that building guitars was where it was at for me. I just love it, and can look back on my life leading up to now as all being very well worth the trouble.