- As a guitar-maker for the stars, musician Ed Roman found a platform for fierce opinions about his commercially manufactured competition, exhorting musicians to drop what he called "misdirected ignorant brand loyalty."

His own guitars found their way into the hands of everyone from Ted Nugent to British rockers Eric Burdon of The Animals and John Entwistle of The Who.

Roman, sometimes likened to a Viking for his red hair, was unafraid to unleash self-described politically incorrect opinions about foreign-made products, chain stores and corporate guitar manufacturers.

But his daughter remembers a soft side to his big, brash personality. She remembers him taking care of her pet hamster, letting the critter roll around in a plastic ball amid an office brimming with expensive guitars.

"He had a very kind, gentle heart," Lindsey Star Roman said.

Roman died Dec. 14 at his home following an illness, his daughter said. He was 61.

"He's going to be remembered with a smile. He made everyone laugh," she said yesterday. "And he's certainly going to be immortalized through his guitars."

Roman worked on motorcycles before turning to guitar building in 1976, because "he always wanted to make something better," his daughter said.

"He was fortunate to meet most of his heroes," she said.