Custom Electric Guitars: What features do you want?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by theaxedoctor, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. theaxedoctor

    theaxedoctor Member

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    Hi everyone. I'm going to try to start selling my electric guitars soon, and I wanted the know the consensus on which features most players would like in a handbuilt electric. I'm planning to offer one standard model (a double cut carved top solidbody built with mahogany/maple), which can be customized. I've decided on most aspects of the build, but there are a few features for which I'd like player input.

    I was initially going to offer 22 frets, and build 24 fret models only upon request. What are your thoughts? Should I make 24 frets the standard?

    Also, what do you like as far as a bridge? Tune-o-matic? Tremelo?

    I'd appreciate any input. Let me know what you guys think. I'll document the build of the prototype this weekend. Thanks!
     
  2. octatonic

    octatonic Member

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    22 frets
    Gotoh Floyd, Gotoh 510, 2 point trem with solid saddles or any decent hardtail where the strings go through the body (not a tune-o-matic fan).
    1 11/16th's nut
    Flat radius.

    Pretty much what Suhr or Anderson do is what I am into.

    That said- I reckon you should do what you are passionate about- you are going to get so many opinions here that trying to draw any consensus from it will just water down the vision.
    Look at James Tyler- he does some stuff that some people just flat out hate but others are totally into it.
     
  3. theaxedoctor

    theaxedoctor Member

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    Thanks! I hear you. I really like Suhr guitars as well, and I'd like to incorporate some aspects of their construction style, tempered with some gibson-esque features (e.g. carved top, and shorter scale length, I'll probably go with 25, rather than 25.5).
     
  4. enharmonic

    enharmonic Old Growth Gold Supporting Member

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    For any custom guitar, the most important aspect to me is whether or not I will be able to get a large neck. Hardware is definitely important, though.

    On a double cut (I'm assuming not an "S" type), I prefer a wrap-tail bridge that I can intonate...like a Pigtail. As for trem / vibrato, I like Bigsby's if I'm going that route.
     
  5. samdjr74

    samdjr74 Supporting Member

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    I think everone will have an different opinion on what you should offer.

    For me, neck carve is key. When I have a guitar custom built, I like to be able to order a specific carve that fits my hands. If a builder only allows for one neck carve then I usually walk away.

    Also options like pups, bridge types and woods are important. For me, 24 frets, hardtail, wide thin neck and ebony board are the features I'm after.
     
  6. theaxedoctor

    theaxedoctor Member

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    I am going to use an ebony fingerboard and the neck profile of an R9 for the prototype but I would use any construction material and entertain custom neck profiles upon request. Thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming!
     
  7. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    It's simple:

    Perfection.

    Pick what you want to build, build it, promote it, sell it.

    You're never going to find a consensus among guitar players.
     
  8. shadpeters

    shadpeters Member

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    if you only offer certain features its not really custom is it? I don't mean to come across harsh, but i dont think you are likely to get any type of consensus from this. Here is why: if there were a recipe for what everyone wants in a custom guitar then it wouldn't be custom anymore and everyone would be playing the same thing. The whole point of a custom guitar is tailoring it to meet the needs of each individual. For me that means offering whatever type of bridge, wood, scale length, neck carve, and electronics my customer wants. If you're just ordering from a menu its not really custom, but that's just my opinion.
     
  9. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas Member

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    The most important thing to me is neck options : width, carve, radius, and ideally fingerboard material.


    The neck needs to be comfortable for me to play well, so that's what I look for in guitars these days. My personal preference is for quite wide, fairly chunky C-profile, very flat necks with ebony (or pao ferro) boards.
     
  10. theaxedoctor

    theaxedoctor Member

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    Perhaps I should've said handbuilt guitars. I have made custom guitars for friends, but I have never sold them. As far a business goes, I would take orders for 'custom guitars', but I have to start somewhere, right? I would imagine that I should start with a preliminary design, so people could get a sense of my work.

    I really just wanted to find out what the needs are of modern guitar players, so I can keep them in mind in my designs. Maybe I'll never find a consensus, but I appreciate the feedback of players.
     
  11. Scrutinizer

    Scrutinizer Member

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    I want the builder to make most of the decisions:
    - wood selection
    - construction details
    - pickup, potentiometer, tone cap selection
    - finish type
    - tuners
    - bridge

    I specify:
    - My goals for the guitar. For instance, my latest custom build from Koll started out as a desire to own a guitar that covers approximately the same tonal range, versatility, and response to 'gig volume' levels provided by a nice ES335, but in the Koll Glide body shape. I put a deposit down, then let Saul Koll do his thing. The finished guitar greatly exceeded my expectations.
    - Neck shape, width, scale length, approx neck thickness, fretboard radius
    - Fret type
    - Control placement (when applicable ... does not apply to S or T style guitars)
    - Finish color
     
  12. theaxedoctor

    theaxedoctor Member

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    ^ Thanks! Can't wait to start the build. I'll post some photos soon.
     
  13. standingzero

    standingzero Member

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    Owning both a 25 and a 25 1/2 inch I'm guessing you'd get more interest in the 25 inch, but that's just a guess. I like the 25s for their snap, but you can still play thicker guaged strings on them w/out having mondo sized SRV hands:p

    Also, with a 25 inch scale I'd recommend 22 frets as a base model:
    1. The higher frets are noticably closer together than the 25 1/2 inch scale so it's not as comfortable
    2. The extra fretboard length actually pushes the neck HB back towards the bridge which I'm not as fond of

    Just my 2 cents,

    Best of luck to you man!
     
  14. MOJO

    MOJO Member

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    Being from NY also I would be very interested in seeing some pics of your work....Where are you located?
     
  15. Brian Johnston

    Brian Johnston Member

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    I may be a different type of collector, but I'm now at the point that I may pick a standard body type (e.g., strat), but have it custom carved (e.g., SRV head in the body, etc.), or some other theme... whereas the details behind neck size, fret inlays, etc., is something I recommend, but expect my builder to help guide me. That doesn't help you much, but if you were to develop a few 'stock' type guitars, I would look into creating a unique, but pleasant looking body shape... something that separates you from the others... consider Parker guitars, or the shape of an SG, etc., they are unique and people know who makes them as a result. If you are re-creating a strat, just about all luthiers do that.
     
  16. theaxedoctor

    theaxedoctor Member

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    ^ Thanks Brian. That's precisely why I do not want to build strat style guitars. I've drafted plans for a unique body (not as unique as Parker) but something that I found to be interesting and aesthetically pleasing.

    I've decided to go with 22 frets and a 25 inch scale length for the prototype. The wood is on the way. I got a great deal on quilted seconds for the top, so I'll use that for the first build.

    To Mojo: I'm actually originally from Brooklyn. I'm now located in Southern Putnam County which is about an hour and a half from Brooklyn.
     
  17. Relicaster

    Relicaster Member

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  18. shan564

    shan564 Member

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    I think one key is to differentiate yourself from Suhr/Anderson and the like. They build great guitars, and it'll be hard to compete with them if you're making something too similar.

    A builder who I respect once told me that he has very specific bridges that he uses with each specific design (in terms of body shape, chamber pattern, specific wood selection, and every other detail) that just seems to work perfectly based on extensive testing. I asked him what he thinks about using a Graph Tech piezo bridge on my custom guitar, but he thought that anything other than aluminum would be a slightly different sound, and he couldn't guarantee that it'd deliver the same signature sound/feel that I get from the guitar that he ended up building for me.

    That said, I really like the Schaller Hannes bridge.
     
  19. artguy47

    artguy47 Ol' CuRmUGeOn

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    For me (I'm sure you will get different answers from everyone, all equally valid!), a 24 fret double octave neck, offer different scales, play from 25.5 to 24.75", though generally like 25' or longer.

    Prefer a wide nut, ebony board, Stainless Frets, play a variety of neck carves, but like that Suhr offers a large variety of choices. I'm partial to the either the Even C Slim or Modern Eliptical. Especially like the compound 10-14" neck radius, or a 16".

    Can go with either set necks or bolt in, as long as they have a long tenon to transmit the sound. To me, having a tight neck/body connection is key to making a good guitar. Next is the feel of the neck, how it fits my hand.

    Want all my guitars to be lively, with great accoustic resonance (see above), especially enjoy light guitars. Quality tone woods, are essential.

    Or look at what Suhr, McInturff, Grosh are doing...

    Though not a popular, you may want to read some of Ed Roman's tech articles. (Just ignor his ragging on PRS, Gibson, etc, and self aggrandizement:omg!) My Quicksilver is still in the top two or three guitars I own. It's specs are,
    25" 24 fret, bolt on/in w/ long tenon, ebony board, great SD pups, superior sand/oiled neck, et cetera.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  20. dr.morton

    dr.morton Member

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    I prefer headless guitars with no fancy top and at least seven strings.

    Anything outside the box is fine with me.
     

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