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Ren was originally born Lawrence Ferguson on February 26, 1946, in Detroit, Michigan. As was family tradition on his father’s side, all first born males were to be named after their paternal grandfather – in this case, Ren’s grandfather, Lawrence. Not a big fan of the nickname “Larry,” Mrs. Ferguson intervened, instead giving him the nickname, “Ren,” after a favorite artist. “My mother, who had been an artist at Disney for a while, had a great admiration for an airbrush artist named Renwick,” he recalls.
Ren began his luthier career, as it were, in shop class at Westchester High School, in Westchester, California. By the early sixties Ren had a Harmony guitar and his brother had a banjo – both rather poor excuses for instruments. Ren decided he could make a banjo in shop class for his brother. “I had no idea how complicated instrument building was back then,” he says. “I soon found out how critical tolerances had to be for frets and bridges and the like.” Ren’s father had a furniture business with a spray booth in it, and he got to experiment with refinishing wood furniture that people would trade in – in addition to plenty of Nocasters and Telecasters. “I ruined a lot of potentially expensive guitars back then,” Ren recalls.
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