GMW Guitars - an introduction

Discussion in 'Builder's & Retailer's Forum' started by GMWguitars, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. GMWguitars

    GMWguitars Member

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    Location:
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    Hello to The Gear Page membership:

    First, I'd like to thank the current GMW membership for their continued support and business relationship over the 20+ years my company has been in operation. It's greatly appreciated. Many of you were introduced to GMW via your interest in work, or guitars, related to Jackson/Charvel. But many were also looking for a company to perform refurbishing and/or refinishing work on their current instruments, so my company entered the picture via this route. Irregardless, we were able to connect.

    Much of my early influences in guitar building were predicated on the Charvels being played by the great players from the '80's. So of course, my guitar building techniques and influences are a direct descendant of that era. But like many builders, eventually a point is reached when it becomes time to break out of the old mold and strike out in a new direction. Being a distinct "brand" is always a goal, and I feel I've finally reached this point. I had pondered this move many times over the years, and the GMW "Empire" line was developed in the mid '90's as a direct result of striving to break with tradition and begin something new. However, that line is fairly elaborate in terms of the many inlay features those guitars incorporate. As such, they tends to be a bit much for the client that is looking for something more modest in terms of style and appearance. Consequently, many of the guitars we've made over the years have been based on a more traditional, and less ostentatious type instrument.

    Obviously, many of my early customers have utilized those classic '70's/'80's Charvels from the past as a basis from which to start a new custom order project. But as I noted above, I really wanted to eventually break away from making "Rock Replicas" of other guitars. So it didn't take longe before I began to fully focus my time and energy on the pursuit of a truly unique GMW headstock. However, despite my best laid plans, this GMW "new headstock" project was far larger than I had originally envisioned. As such, it took longer than expected to design the new headstocks, plus design a totally new line of representative guitars to showcase these new headstock designs. Included within that project was the design of new case logos, shirts, and graphic/wood ideas. So this entire process became more of a research project than simply a term paper.

    Fortunately, the results of all that hard work are now finally beginning to emerge. But at this time, I'll simply take a moment to discuss the "what, when, where, how and why" I'm building and doing what I'm doing. I'm continually releasing many new instruments, and these guitars will hopefully serve as a basis, or jumping point, from which to incorporate your own unique ideas and tastes.

    In the meantime, the "when" was just about the time Fender purchased Jackson/Charvel. As noted earlier, I had started contemplating making a change before that time. But the constant demands of finishing work and paint requests on outside guitars precluded that from being realized. However, it was important that any new GMW headstock designs immediately separate and distinguish my guitars from all others currently in the market place. Trying to design a truly unique and appealing headstock based on the usual drop (Fender) or tilt (Jackson, Gibson, PRS) template is pretty tough, especially given the fact that there are many guitar builders in existence, and each faces this same dilemma. Basically, how does one produce a design that is functional and serviceable while still being both unique and appealing?

    But I wanted to start with something that wasn't in the normal vernacular of headstocks. So after some thought, I came up with a concept I describe as "tilt axis tuning". I developed this a couple of years ago back in July of 2004 in order to make the tuning aspect more user friendly. But by the time all the custom neck fixtures and legal discourse was handled, the time flew by and it's taken me this long to get where we currently reside. Fortunately this work is done and the designs are complete.

    The "what" now follows, and what developed was tilt axis tuning, whereby the tuners are tilted back to enable better access to the machine heads when tuning. So it became an instance of "form follows function". Once the tilt axis concept was incorporated into a test headstock, things like developing a true straight string pull headstock had to be completed before the "form" of the headstocks could follow. So adjustments were made to the location of the tuner holes while the exact amount of tilt was designed into the headstocks. As such, in the photos of my headstocks, you'll notice the tuner recess (ledge) on the back of the headstocks where the tuners are located. However, when viewed from the front, this tilt axis feature isn't readily apparent.

    Also, an added feature of this tilt axis design was that even with a standard bone nut and a Floyd rose tremolo, the guitar will stay in remarkable tune despite heavy trem bar use. The strings have a more exaggerated downward angle than found with a traditional strat head, so string trees are normally not required with either headstock profile. This tilt axis design also forced the headstock to have a 3D topography, which is quite striking in appearance when viewed in person. Unfortunately, when viewed in a photo, some of the style and elegance of this feature is lost in translation. But it won't take long for the tilt axis and 3D nature of these two headstocks to be appreciated as each successive new GMW guitar reaches the market.

    Added benefits from these designs were that my headstocks now provide immediate information as to the source of the guitar, plus these headstocks/necks can't be easily cloned unless the builder is very well versed as a luthier. But I've stamped the heel of each neck with the serial number for the respective guitar using a wood stamp, so if a neck doesn't have that number, it's not from GMW. The same serial number designation is located in the bridge PU rout, plus I sign the neck pocket and include the assembly date in the same locale. Each new GMW or Empire guitar also comes with a signed and detailed spec sheet listing all the major parameters used in the final construction of the guitar.

    In the meantime, when these headstocks are viewed, it's now a given that the guitar is a GMW and not a product of some alternate builder. Being truly unique as a builder is something I've strived for over the years, so its hoped these two new headstocks will serve to fulfill that goal. This addresses the "why".

    I also noticed many comments about why I placed the logo where I did. Well, once you have one of these in your hands, it's a given that the logo needs to be located in the center, on top of the crest of the arch. Otherwise, it's really difficult to install it on the lower face since that surface continues to shrink as you move down the headstock. Plus, it simply didn't look right when placed in that location. I tried locating the logo in every obvious location and the center was perfect from my viewpoint. So once I applied the logo in the center, it looked great, plus it was something a little different from the norm. I also decided to start stacking the logos as a two ply (e.g., "gold on black") type logo sets. That provides for a very classy and elegant logo, and reflects what I'm attempting to project with each and every guitar that comes out of my shop.

    Next, the "added headstock mass" question was sort of an added benefit I recognized immediately once we made the first neck. We had to increase the thickness of the neck blanks by a least 1/8" in order to accommodate the construction of these necks. But the added headstock mass wasn't something I planned at the moment I conceived the concept of tilt axis tuning. Besides, the extra mass isn't really all that much. However, it does help to visually balance the guitar by providing for a headstock that's large enough to counter balance the sizes of the various bodies it will appear on. For example, the GMP headstocks were always to small in my view, so I spent a lot of time tweaking the GMW headstock sizes and shapes to gain some equilibrium between the size of the headstock in relation to the size of the various body shapes we employ.

    Finally, the new line was originally to be introduced with 20 guitars. These alternate in sets of two beginning with solid colors/graphics, followed by "woods". Also, within each set, I attempted to incorporate "old school" style and presentation with the first guitar in that set, followed by my GMW interpretation thereafter. So #G0001 is very old school and uses a solid brass vintage Charvel trem with a vintage Charvel hot rod flame graphic, whereas #G0002 is a single hum Floyd model, albeit with a stacked hot rod flame graphic on both the front and back, plus a matching headstock. Note: Most of the new line incorporates matching headstocks wherever possible, although it's definitely not a requirement when ordering.

    Anyway, this old/new, and solid color/wood, sequence repeats itself through the first 20 guitars as we step across solids/wood/solids/woods, etc. This will provide the viewer with 10 solid color/graphic guitars plus 10 wood based instruments. In any event, the first 20 new GMW's were pre-ordained by me except for the choice of PU's. Thereafter, for the most part, any serial number beyond #G0020 is a custom order. Therefore, anything you observe on #G0001 - #G0020 that doesn't meet your fancy can be strictly attributed to my poor tastes. Thereafter, you get to blame the clients. [​IMG]

    The website also underwent a full overhaul and make over, but as with the new headstocks, it took longer than I initially expected. Fortunately, the virtual guitar generator is complete, and we've archived most of the pics that were originally found in the old GMW Custom Shop and Custom Paint sections. This way, ideas/examples of past work can be found and used for reference in building new instruments. The new focus for GMW is building custom guitars rather than refurbishing guitars from outside suppliers, which I no longer do. But all in all, the changes are both welcome, and long overdue. As always, the market place sets the final decision as to what will survive and what will die on the vine. So I would like to thank everyone for their continued support.

    Finally, for those who may have questions, I'm still one of the few custom builders who personally answers the phone and your e-mail questions. So feel free to contact me should any additional comments or questions arise. Otherwise, please contact my Gear Page Administrator, Mr. Ian Lee. He will be more than happy to address any questions or comments you may have. Ian will also continue to post specific guitars of interest that Gear Page members may find appealing and we hope that you do.

    Thanks you for your time, and I apologize for the rather lengthy letter.

    Lee

    GMW Guitarworks
    220 N. Glendora Ave
    Glendora,CA.91741

    Phone: (626)914-8082

    E-mail address: lee@gmw.cnc.net

    www.gmwguitars.com/

    ...............................................

    [FONT=Arial,sans-serif]Here are examples for several of my recent GMW wood inlayed Hot Rod Flame projects. This photo highlights some of my recent guitars in this category. Note: Thin layer laminate type veneers were NOT used in crafting each top. Rather, the wood used for each flame and surround extends from the top of the surface down to the top layer of the mahogany body. Detailed spec sheets for each guitar are available on my website by clicking on GMW Guitars (on the Home Page) and then the GMW Archives tab within that section. Enjoy. [/FONT]:)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. todd richman

    todd richman Senior Member

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    Beautiful guitars Lee. I remember wanting a Blue or purpleburst Jake E. Lee Rock Star replica a few years back. Any pics of those?
     
  3. Martin6String

    Martin6String Member

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    Hands down one of the best guitars available.
     
  4. GMWguitars

    GMWguitars Member

    Messages:
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    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    Glendora, CA
    Hey Todd, I forwarded your remarks to Lee and he appreciates the sentiment. The rock replica guitars would be located in the GMW archives page and you should be able to find those burst guitars there. With the new line, Lee's concentrating on more unique breakthrough guitars, thus these wood HRF guitars in the featured pic... :)

    ...and Martin6String, thanks much for the kudos. They are some very cool instruments for sure! Wait'll you see what's coming. :D

    Ian
    Administrator
    GMW Guitars
     
  5. dougiefresh

    dougiefresh Member

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    Mar 31, 2007
    Location:
    Fairfield, OH
    I've got #3 and another one being built!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. fyrwyr

    fyrwyr Member

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    Location:
    Windsor Ont.
    Very nice work!!!!
     
  7. FiestaRed

    FiestaRed Gold Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    Ian,


    Post your DS model pics. Those are my favorite!

    -Mark
     
  8. GMWguitars

    GMWguitars Member

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    Location:
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    A very cool GMW! What's your latest build creation? Come on, spill the beans.. :D


    Which ones Mark? .. there's a few of them but if you're referring to these ones, sure. Here you go!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Ian
    Administrator
    GMW Guitars
     
  9. dougiefresh

    dougiefresh Member

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    Mar 31, 2007
    Location:
    Fairfield, OH
    1 piece mahogany Dinky body in Silver burst
    3 piece flame maple neck
    flame maple fingerboard w/black double diamond inlays
    reverse millennium headstock in matching Silver burst
    Suhr Aldrich humbuckers direct mount with chrome covers
    Chrome original Floyd
    5 way with P switching
    One volume
     
  10. GMWguitars

    GMWguitars Member

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    Location:
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    Hey dougiefresh.. any progress report?

    Ian
    Administrator
    GMW Guitars
     
  11. dougiefresh

    dougiefresh Member

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  12. monte

    monte Gold Supporting Member

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    I have owned over 30 GMWs over the years and not a single disappointment in the batch. Lee and company do awesome work. I have dealt with Lee since 2000 and it has always been a pleasure. Nice to see you here Ian.

    Monte
     
  13. GMWguitars

    GMWguitars Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks Monte.. it is great to be here and help promote some awesome GMW guitars... :D

    ..dougiefresh, that is awesome. 3 piece flame maple neck, direct mount pu's.. very cool! I like it. Definitely looking forward to completed pics on this one.

    Ian
    Administrator
    GMW Guitars
     
  14. FiestaRed

    FiestaRed Gold Supporting Member

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    Is the silverburst a Savant or a Dinky?
     
  15. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Welcome Lee!
    Nice guitars ... not sure i used to have an empire ... wasn't that from your shop as well?
     
  16. dougiefresh

    dougiefresh Member

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    It's a Dinky body style, but has a lot of the same features as the Savant.
    Maybe a Savant DS?
     
  17. GMWguitars

    GMWguitars Member

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    You can call it just a Savant. The Savant line comes standard with an SS body and the double diamond inlays. Most recently, a more 'toned down' model of the Savant line called an SS has been introduced. It comes built without the double diamond inlays. This is the infamous "the bet" guitar currently being promoted and for sale.

    And yep, the Empire guitars are also built at GMW Guitarworks. They can be considered a more 'high end' guitar.


    Ian
    Administrator
    GMW Guitars
     
  18. dogbone94

    dogbone94 Supporting Member

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    these are stunning....
     

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