Although it's well south of the state's largest body of water, the owner of the Great Salt Lake Guitar Co. said his company takes inspiration from its namesake.

"It's a name that you'd think would have been in use at the turn of the century - and guitar-making and craftsmanship is an Old World craft, so it kind of fits," Ken Stika said.The company, at 362 W. Center, has been building, repairing and selling acoustic instruments - primarily guitars - at its current site for more than two years, and Stika himself has been building instruments for 11 years.

Stika got into the craft business in 1979, after an accident curtailed his fishing career in Alaska. "I came back to (Utah) to recuperate, and it was during that period that I started making instruments. One thing just led to another."

While staying in the now defunct Hotel Roberts, Stika checked out a library book on instrument building and crafts, which peaked his interest. During his four-month recuperation, he made his first instrument - a dulcimer - and a second dulcimer sold, which convinced him that he could make a living out of the craft.

At first, Stika built instruments at his own house, in a workspace he said was no larger than 7x7 feet. Then he moved into a store on U.S. 89 between Provo and Springville that he said "didn't allow for a lot of foot traffic, and a lot of people couldn't find."

When the opportunity came for Stika to buy the current site, he said he jumped at the chance, and began the retail sales and repair sides of his business.

Now the store is the largest per capita seller of Martin and Sigma guitars in the state, and carries guitars from Ibanez, Yamaha, Tama and Gibson, among others - as well as carrying strings, straps, tuners, repair and maintenance equipment, music books and instructional manuals, he said.

"We're still in the high-end of sales (meaning the store carries some higher-priced but also higher-quality goods, he said), but that part of the business is growing by leaps and bounds."

Stika said community support for the business "has been phenomenal, especially since we moved here." In fact, he has hired a full-time employee, Greg Scott, to take care of the sales side while he concentrates on the instrument-making side.

While a lot of the construction orders (most of which are done to customer's specifications) still come from out-of-staters, Stika said the business is quickly picking up a reputation here for its handiwork.

In fact, orders Stika receives this month probably won't be completed until next summer, since he has built up such a backlog already this year.

Stika said the store also schedules small concerts (including some by Windham Hill artists), holds regular jam sessions every fourth Wednesday and could possibly offer instructional classes and even a larger selection of instruments should business merit them.

"Acoustic music is incredibly popular right now, and nationally it's as hot as fire. You never know what could happen."