By KAREN RAPOLLA
In his spare time, Timothy Matty, of Oakhurst, makes custom guitars.
But as a result of a raffle contest he initiated to spread awareness for a cause close to his own heart, he found himself constructing a customized red guitar for a very special local teenager.
Matty’s self-taught mastery of building electric guitars from kits and parts salvaged from broken guitars began as simply a fun hobby and something he could share with his son, Christian, now 15.
Christian enjoys playing guitar and is the proud recipient of the very first guitar Matty constructed.
“It was a gift for his 12th birthday, and it is a cherished, very special instrument to him,” said Matty.
Matty enjoyed making the guitars so much he wanted to continue growing his unique hobby and learning different building techniques for these custom-made instruments. He has been perfecting his craft for five years now.
However, last summer, he had another reason to build guitars.
Matty’s young niece, Josephine Schneider of Milltown (now 3 years old), was in the midst of a yearlong battle with leukemia and sparked his pledge to do whatever he could to spread awareness of her battle and the universal fight against the disease.
So he made the decision to build the next guitar for someone outside of his family.
Forever thinking about Josephine’s recent battle and his own desire to bring awareness to “Piney’s Posse,” a Facebook page dedicated to Josephine (“Piney”) and her fight against leukemia, he came up with an idea that he shared with George Papa, owner of Shore Music Academy in Oakhurst, where his son takes music lessons.
Together Matty and Papa decided to hold a raffle at the music school. Matty advertised the raffle with a poster on the wall, which honored Josephine.
The raffle was free to enter, and all the guitar students at the music store had their names entered into the raffle. The free raffle afforded Matty the opportunity to direct others to his niece’s cause.
The winner of the raffle would receive Matty’s next handmade electric guitar and have input for its specific customization.
“The winner of the raffle would get a guitar built/customized by me in any way they wanted. My hope was to give a young guitar student a one-of-a-kind instrument they will always treasure, while continuing to hone and improve skills and advanced techniques in my hobby,” said Matty.
The raffle winner was a young man named James Pezet Jr., a 10th-grade student at Ocean Township High School.
“When I found out I won the guitar, I was shocked mainly because I didn’t even sign myself up. It was Alexis from Shore Music who signed me up,” said James.
Tragically, James had lost his father just over a year ago to a motorcycle accident on the Garden State Parkway.
“He wanted an instrument that reminded him of his father and represented the beautiful custom Harley-Davidson his father owned. Suddenly, this build turned from a simple fun project for a random kid to something far more meaningful,” said Matty.
James has been playing guitar for about four years. In fact, he and his Dad were learning to play together.
James had a very clear vision of the guitar he wanted.
“When I won, I knew I had to honor my father and design it in a way that would’ve appealed to him. So I had it designed after his favorite motorcycle that he had for as long I could remember,” said James. “Another reason I designed it the way I did was that it (the guitar) would show what he (his Dad) loved to do the most, and this would show his personality, so in a way we would still be playing the guitar together.”
For Matty, this customized guitar project became one that has a special meaning that touched his heart in a way he could have never imagined.
He worked on the hobby in his spare time, with the motivation to have it completed before the upcoming holiday. He enlisted the artistic talent of Tirrel Meyers, owner of Azzink Designs, West Long Branch, to customize the airbrushed details on the red guitar to match the custom details of James Pezet Sr.’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
On Dec. 14, at Shore Music Academy, Matty was honored to present the custom red electric guitar to James in memory of his father.
“I am truly humbled to see my personal hobby bring something so meaningful to someone who is so deserving. Today is all about James and keeping the memory of his father alive,” said Matty.
“I would like to give Mr. Matty a huge thanks, and it means a lot that he did this for me. I will never forget it,” said James.