Dennis McGuire, part owner of Branned Brothers Flutemakers, Inc., holds a 14 karat gold, $38,000 flute that was hand made in his Derry home Wednesday evening. McGuire, who played the tuba, started fixing instruments when he was in the Army Band, and through the years learned instrument repair, which brought him to making flutes.

DERRY | Dennis McGuire makes flutes for a living.

Not the ones the school band plays, or even the ones you see in local parades. The flutes he makes can cost as much as $38,000.

McGuire, 53, of Derry is co-owner of Brannen Brothers Flutemakers Inc. The Woburn-based company makes flutes for some of the best-known players in the world. Sir James Galway, one of the top flute players in America, plays a Brannen flute.

All of the flutes are handmade at the factory, through a process that begins with crafting the parts and ends with testing the flutes. It takes about four months just to make one. They range in price from $7,500 to $38,000. The company makes about 300 a year, in silver, 14-karat gold and platinum.

The founder and former owner, Bickford Brannen, turned the company over to three of his employees this year. McGuire was one of them. He has been with the company a total of eight years.

Brannen turned his company over to the employees because he knew "they had the capacity to carry on the tradition," according to Sarah Graumann, manager of sales and marketing for the company.

Repairing instruments is in McGuire's blood. His father, Irvin, was in the business, as are two of his four brothers.

McGuire, who was in the Army for 26 years, learned the trade repairing instruments for the Army Band, and later, at the Armed Forces School of Music. During one trip, the band went to the Brannen shop. He was offered a job and went to work there several years later. In the band, he played the tuba, but he also can play the flute.

McGuire said he likes building flutes because they are so difficult to craft.

"The flute seemed to be the most precise," McGuire said. "There's such accuracy."

He now works in the finishing department, stringing the keys on the body of the flute and making sure they work properly.

What is required to do McGuire's job?

"A light touch," he said. "It's very tedious, very tiring, very time-consuming. An ability to sit down at a bench and concentrate."

It takes as long as three years to learn the craft, but people still want to do it.

McGuire said Boston is the flute-making capital of the world, so they have plenty of people looking for jobs.

"We get inundated with people looking for jobs," he said.

He said flutists graduating college often wind up as flute makers because jobs with the symphony are so scarce. Making flutes, he said, allows them to be around music.

And it's a job that McGuire recommends.

"There's always something to learn," he said. "I've been doing it for eight years. There's something new every day."

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