Electric guitar players can struggle with factory guitar shortcomings: buzzing, uncomfortable necks, inexpensive electronics, poor fret and nut work. They invest their time and money changing the neck, hardware, and pickups with mixed results.
Customers often contact me when they are frustrated with their current guitar, and they bring up the feature they would change. But the more we talk, the more they divulge other issues with feel, sound, and playability. The conversation turns to them describing the guitar they’ve always wanted with a specific look or electronics that do not exist in commercial guitars.
When you have a guitar custom made, you decide the feature set whether it is a complete top-to-bottom creation or a unique combination of a few specs alongside familiar features. All of your favorite elements come together to reflect the kind of player you are and want to be. I do not provide a buffet of my specific models with limited neck and hardware options. You will own the guitar that best suits you and your sound. Consider these aspects when deciding if you want to go custom.
The Right, Comfortable Guitar Neck
Playing guitars in music stores, you find one neck is too big, next one has sharp edges, another the fret wire size is wrong. No matter how good a guitar looks or sounds, if the neck doesn’t feel right and play the way you want, you won’t be happy.
With a custom guitar, you can get a size and shape that manufacturers may not offer. You select the wood, size, back contour, and other features so the neck feels comfortable in YOUR hand. The nut is accurate, intonation is adjusted properly, frets are leveled, crowned and polished to eliminate buzzing. I also spend time hand shaping the neck in the final stage so that it feels like you have played it for years.
Maximized Guitar Intonation and Playability
Have you ever picked up a guitar that won’t play in tune because the nut is cut too high or because it wasn’t set up properly? Most mass-produced guitar makers do not pay special attention to the final details. A custom builder spends a lot of additional time going over every detail to meet high playability standards for setup, fret work and nut work. The end goal is to allow you to play your guitar without limitation; to just make music and not fight your guitar.
With a wood guitar, it takes awhile for it to settle in under string tension. After assembly and setup, I let the guitar sit strung to pitch. I tune it and check the relief every day to make sure there is no movement in the neck. When the guitar has set for seven days without movement, I level, crown and polish the frets, shape and polish the nut, and set up the guitar to spec again. I set the guitar aside and tune, check, and adjust it every day until it is stable for seven consecutive days with no movement. I polish the guitar again, install new strings, and check everything closely one more time before shipping. I want your guitar to be as stable as possible and arrive at your house playing the same as when it left my shop.
No Guitar Buzzing, Just Great Sound and Tone
Most manufactured guitars come with one set of pickups or hardware per model. With a custom guitar, you can choose the right pickups, body wood and wiring scheme that will dial in your signature sound. You can have custom switching and circuits designed for your needs (e.g. a Les Paul switch in a T-style guitar). I work with a high-quality pickup vendor who customizes all pickups for me tweaked to suit the player, and then I spend a lot of time adjusting the height of the pickups to get the tone right. To reduce buzzing, all of my guitars are shielded with copper foil, and all cavities are connected to a common ground to be as quiet as they can be.
Highest Quality Guitar Parts
Nothing is worse than coming home with your new guitar and realizing the tuners need replaced, the nut is plastic, or the pots are scratchy and feel cheap. You begin to realize you are going to need to change a lot of parts to get this guitar close to what you want. When you order a custom guitar, you work with the builder to select the highest quality heavy-duty components (tuners, knobs, bridges) to achieve the best playing and sounding guitar.
I have long-standing relationships with some of the top vendors in the industry, and I test new vendor parts regularly so that I find the best options for my varied customer needs. Since I am not obligated to order from a single vendor, I help you mix and match the best parts from each one.
Custom Guitar Paint Job and Finishes
Mass-produced guitars offer a limited list of stock colors because they buy in large quantities and don’t have space and time to switch paints for every build. The finish might come with flaws because the guitar is quickly buffed once or twice right from the paint booth and that’s it. Your custom guitar finish is one aspect where you can let your imagination run wild to make your guitar look amazing. You can choose traditional looks like butterscotch and bursts, classic colors, and hot rod finishes like carbon fiber, turned metal and diamond plate (and in my case, even paisley paper). Or, you can go modern with pearlescents or metalflakes. I provide custom hand pinstriping as well.
From my beginnings of painting cars in a body shop to years of painting guitar bodies in my shop, I have determined which products create durability and retain their gloss and color. I aspire to get show car quality by curing the paint completely, wet sanding to eliminate defects in the final finish, and using a multi-step sanding and polishing process for the final buffing.
Personal Guide for Buying Your Guitar
Some players come to me knowing exactly what they want, but many are uncomfortable articulating what they are looking for in terms of feel and sound. Don’t worry if you are not exactly sure of what you want or only know what you don’t like. A custom builder will listen to you closely and is ready to answer all of your questions to give you suggestions and guide you through the order. The ordering process is an exciting collaboration because you talk directly to your guitar builder who is ready to steer you in the right direction to bring your vision to life. Take a look at Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Ordering a Custom Guitar to get started and contact me with your ideas. If you don’t see your vision on my site, just ask and we’ll get you there.
Ordering a custom guitar might seem like an intimidating process, but if you want to step away from dealing with off-the-shelf disappointments and have some ideas of what you are looking for, you can enjoy a great build experience and end up with a fantastic custom guitar that is perfect for you.