Help me buy my first small company guitar.


I have been buying, selling and playing guitar for 20+ years. I have owned over 100 guitars. I have had new and vintage guitars from all the usual guitar builders. I have even built several parts teles and strats.

Well, I think it is time for first high dollar small builder guitar. I have found someone to build it. He is a great builder but doesn't have a name. It would be an unusal guitar sorta a cross between a firebird and a les paul. The cost is going to be around $2,000 which I think is a very good price for the quality of the work I will be getting.

I am having a hard time going for it. I keep thinking about how many nice guitars I could buy for $2,000 used and would be able to resale them without loosing money. I almost would certainly loose money if I forced to sell the guitar I am planning to have built.

Anyway, I just need the final push to get me over the hump. Let me know how you guys have rationalized going with a small builder.

John Page

If you have seen his work and you feel that he builds a high-quality guitar, then $2000 is a heck of a deal in my opinion. There's a whole lot of work that goes into an original (or hybrid) design build. Every "name" builder started out as a "no name" (no offense meant to this unnamed builder), so that shouldn't keep you from doing it.

Names are a lot like opinions... we all have them... and some people think some are worth more than others, but it boils down to the instrument.

Go for it and don't look back!


Just do it. It's not about resale, it's about finding the instrument that speaks to you.

I will weigh in on one experience. I have had a number of guitars built for me and been lucky most of the time. I recently took delivery of a custom made tele shape guitar from a fairly small builder ($2300). The work was impeccable, the finish beautiful, the quality of all parts second to none, and he was great to work with...but it felt "not me" as soon as first played it and after a month of trying it was obvious there was something in the nuance of the physical aspects about the guitar that would not work for me. I ended up selling for almost half what I paid just a couple months after buying it. I could not fault the builder as he did a great job. If it is that one time that the custom build never becomes close to you, you can lose a lot in resale.

I learned to be far more specific in every single aspect of the neck as I think that was the elusive problem that kept me from getting close with it.


Chairman of the Bored
Platinum Supporting Member
Straightblues, here's a question for you. after playing for 20+ years, have you come to a place where you know what will work for you and what won't? If so, can you find all of the things that work for you in a production instrument?

I ask this because it's what drove me into small builder world. I know what works for me, but finding all of the elements in 1 guitar was virtually impossible. When you take that into consideration, $2k isn't a lot to pay. Think about all of the $$ you've spent chasing "the" guitar for you? I bet it's more than $2k. ;)

At the end of the day, if you know what you need and this builder will dial it in for you, your search might very well be over. That would be priceless.

Southern ILL

I'll chime in with more of the same...The main thing that you have to do is this.....Have him use your favorite neck shape and finger board radius and fret size.......You have owned enough gits to know this buy now......even pickups and a ideal weight would be pretty important......sure color and tone wood should come to mind but I'm guessing somekind of mahogany is the flavor here......but myself...I'd focus on makng it highly comfortable and playability would be the main focus.......if you do that....I bet you come out with your dream guitar.


Contact Bill Chapin. Tell him what sound, tone, neck shape, weight, etc.. and he will build it exactly how you want it. Once you get it you'll be glad you did. Give him a call.


Gold Supporting Member
For $2000 you are better off gettung a used Small builder guitar . To get exactly what youwant it may inmany cases cost you more than that. There are lots of things to consider . If you dont plan on keeping it for ever and are very unsure thats the route I would go. You may not get exactly what you want but you will get a good idea of the differences , plus if you buy it used at a good price most likely you will ne able to sell it for close to what you paid if you dont like it . Do your home workandsee whats out there first , possibly try a few .

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