Lou Femenella got his first guitar in 1961; half a century later, he’s building his own custom ones out of a Carroll Gardens studio. “Musical-instrument building is one of the highest art forms I know of,” he tells us. “You have to be very precise, and also know how wood behaves in a natural environment.” That experience he gathered from a long career, first as an apprentice to cabinetmakers, later as a woodworker for large architectural firms. He’s developing prototypes of his own design, but for now he sticks to those that resemble classic Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters, because it’s what he knows and loves—and it’s what’s popular. “My typical customer would be a player who appreciates the difference between what is readily available now and a Strat or Tele made like they were in the 50s and early 60s,” he tells us, “but doesn’t want to spend north of $15,000 for a real one.” Femenella, who finishes a guitar relatively quickly in about six months, charges roughly a fifth that.