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I finally understand... Why one should always go custom eventually.

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Demioblue, May 21, 2011.

  1. Demioblue

    Demioblue Member

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    While this is probably more suited at the small luthier's section, it probably wouldn't do any good there considering most of the people there already know what I'm about to say. No. This is for the uninitiated, like I was 2 months ago.

    This is no best kept secret, except that it's right there, and most people I know ignore it.:hide2

    If you are like I was in the past, going through guitar after guitar, spending cash on GAS and guitars that you thought would fit you just by picking it up, feeling comfortable, and playing it, then there's still something you are probably missing.

    I've owned a good number of guitars in the past. Almost hitting 30. (wait... almost? I think I might have exceeded that recently, but I lost count). This was over a span of 22 years, and I was going around various makes. From Ibanezes, to Fenders, to Gibsons, to PRSi, to ESPs to EBMMs to whatever. There were 4 7 strings in there, but mostly 6s. Those don't include the guitars I get to try at a friend's shop, which include vintage guitars (Fender and Gibson), Mosrites, Gretschs, Suhrs, Andersons, Melancons, Fender CS, Trussarts, Liquid Metal, and cool old 80s guitars like the Peavey Vandenberg or old RG550s. You name it, I've probably tried it.

    Everytime I come across something new, I would try the guitar, find the one that I felt most comfortable with, and take it home, only to find something else later that replaced it. Everytime, there'd be something else that felt more comfortable, and more usable than what I had in the past. (I even liked the Peavey and was tempted... very tempted)

    After a while, I got tired slowly of the hunt, and the constant moving on. I decided to take my money, try my faith in boutique custom guitars. I don't mean boutique off-the-shelf guitars which are widely available to those who can afford it. I mean 100% custom built, to everything you'd want.

    This was a nice long trip down self-reflection lane. I had to think very carefully, what I liked and what I didn't like in all those 22 years of playing guitars. I made a list. For some reason or another, my specs changed over the years. While I still enjoyed playing the sleek wizard necks on RGs, I realised that I couldn't survive with one if that was my one and only guitar. I needed something that didn't kill my hand in certain genres, yet I could fly with in others. I realised that as much as I grew to like single coils, I really couldn't live without humbuckers. I also realised how superior the Les Paul layout was compared to the strat in terms of controllability.

    My experience with my previous guitars definately contributed to this. I knew I preferred locking tuners, and I knew I didn't need a trem. I knew I liked the maple/mahogany combo more than I liked the maple/basswood, and I knew I really didn't like much the full alder or full ash idea. I knew I was more partial to ebony, but BRW was something I was dying to own. I also knew that I prefered super tall frets, but wasn't too bothered about the width.

    So I had a guitar made.

    In the course of the process, I must have changed my specs more than 10 times. Thank God Elizabeth Schroeder of Schroeder Guitars was extremely patient, and very forgiving. :p Everytime I tried something new, again, I'd like it, and my tastes would change slightly. But there was no major change. For example, after playing good Les Pauls, I knew I still didn't like single cuts, but I liked the shorter scale. A new Les Paul would have something new, and would be another influence.

    I could have saved the money, some said, by simply just buying an off-the-shelf, and settling for it, than to pay more for a custom build. What's the point? it's still a guitar after all. You'd get bored after all. You'd find something else after all.:nuts

    I'm not saying I won't, but today, I'm now looking for something I don't already have. Like perhaps, a customised 7 string.

    Anyways, the guitar arrived after a 2 and a half year wait. Wow. that's too long, you say? I also agreed with you in the past. I hoped I wasn't just buying "another guitar", but part of me resigned to the fact that it could well be. Here's the truth: A custom guitar is a leap of faith. You need to find the right builder for you. I chose Schroeder Guitars because they told me: "We will build you anything you want, it's your guitar, so we'll make it according to your specs".

    When the guitar came, I opend the case with anticipation, and with trepidation. I was worried it would fall short of expectations, and I'd come away with the thought that I should have just bought a PRS.

    Thankfully, that was not the case. The guitar not only met expectations, it exceeded them. I never expreienced how magical a well made guitar could be. Consider this: My guitar is solid bodied, and thick. It's honduran mahogany. And yet, it's only 7.9lbs. Why? Because Jason Schroeder literally went through a stash of HM, and found me the lightest, most resonant piece he had, simply because I asked for it. Here'e the important bit: Here you have, the builder going through each and every component wood plank of your guitar, selecting it carefully for you, and molding it step by step into something else. There's no way in hell any off the shelf guitar would deliver that. The PRS Private stock might do it, but we all know how much those cost, and my guitar was far from that exhuberant price.

    I also had an inlay built into the guitar, which was something I designed 18 years ago. To know that a design you hold so close to you for so long can now be built into a guitar that you would love is PRICELESS.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I also found that everything I asked for in terms of specs was delivered. Now, if I can't bond with the guitar, it was purely my fault for not liking the specs that I chose myself!

    Thankfully, it was love at first plug in. The tones were beautiful, the guitar was extremely playable. And oddly all my old guitars now felt... wrong. Even my old No.1 Les Paul. This was the perfect guitar for me, because it was... well.. designed 100% by me!

    And with the custom guitar I own now, there's not much to hunt for these days. I've sold off almost everything else. I'd sell off everything, but some of these guitars hanging around were gifts, and my wife would kill me if I sold them off. Those guitars are now no longer out in the open. They're case queens. There's only one guitar I have out in the open for jamming, practice and the occasional gig.

    And what about GAS? Sure, I still walk into guitar stores to hang out with friends. I still pick up the guitars and play. But every one just feels wrong. When I pick up another guitar, I'm hoping it'll have the same vibe like my Schroeder. I'm always disappointed. I have walked into stores selling Gibsons and PRSi, and I have not batted an eyelid at any one. There isn't even a desire to try one out. Nothing. None. There hasn't been any one guitar that has made me want to walk in to try one like I used to in the past. Why would I when I have this:
    [​IMG]

    What I paid for was just a guitar. What I got back in return, was an extension of myself.

    The only drawback? I had to go through those 30 or so guitars to reach this one.:bonk You also MUST be very clear on what you like and want. So, to all who bothered to sit though this long post, I thank you for reading, and hope that my experience might encourage you to try out a fully custom built guitar. Because you deserve the best for yourself.
     
  2. shane8

    shane8 Member

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    what i have against custom guitars is the possibility i won't bond with it which is why i never would order 1 - i wanna run the racks and get the closest off the shelf thing to my ideal and then mod it if necessary - glad u like urs tho :)
     
  3. DGTCrazy

    DGTCrazy Moderator de Emporio Staff Member

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    I'm right there with you, as I had Mark Johnson of MJ Guitars build me the greatest guitar I could have imagined.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    I love those knobs!
     
  5. wildshoetwt

    wildshoetwt Member

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    the custom route works for those of us who know the ins and outs, the fretsizes we like, the ideal compound neck radii, the scale length, and the pickup configurations, the bridge and wood etc etc


    you'd be surprised how many gigging and advanced guitarists don't know anything about guitars other than what they liked best playing at the store
     
  6. Demioblue

    Demioblue Member

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    That is precisely the point I was trying to make which you didn't get: If you have a good luthier, and you know exactly what you want, then there's no chance you won't bond with it. Unless you're saying you can't bond with yourself?:huh

    Well said. Completely reiterates my point!
     
  7. mesa/kramer

    mesa/kramer Member

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  8. shane8

    shane8 Member

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    i guess we just disagree - anyway i wouldn't wait that long 4 anything - the emotional investment in such a thing is not my idea of a good time
     
  9. tsar nicholas

    tsar nicholas Member

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    Wow! Super ace guitars. That Schroeder reminds me of the old, "good" Hamers that ate everything alive.

    I don't have any customs, but will some day. I want a copy of my #1, a Gibson Tennessean, with two changes : 1) Better upper-fret access; 2) Slightly thicker neck (front-to-back), like my SG
     
  10. pcovers

    pcovers Member

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    First, let me say your Schroeder is just breathtaking, and Jason is as good as any out there. However, the Emporium is proof that your theory is not so sound, though anecdotaly it is perfectly applied to you.

    We have seen over and over similar "I found my perfect soul-mate guitar in my custom build" only to see it go up for sale later, after some period of time. This is not to suggest you did not indeed find your perfect guitar in your custom build. It sounds like you did. But there are many that, pre-build, would have said they knew exactly what they wanted, found a great luthier, and waited out the process to get the "ideally suited to me" guitar..........to be found in the Emporium months later. It is pretty well documented that you can spec exactly what you know you like, and get the guitar and still not bond due to the sum of the parts not working out. It happens pretty regularly.

    In your case, it looks like you found that once in a lifetime connection type guitar. Being a Schroeder, the quality is a no brainer. Yours looks like a a player and a show piece at the same time. Congrats.

    As a PS, that inlay is a beautiful design, executed flawlessly.
     
  11. dughaze

    dughaze Member

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    What a great story. What a great testament to owning a custom made instrument too. That guitar looks amazing, kind of like an old Hamer that I am constantly on the lookout for at the right price (cheap) but can never find. That inlay is cool (that would make for a hell of a cool company symbol, though it's a cool design for anything as it is), the doublecut is cool, the top is pretty, and if the neck size and nut width were close to a 60's LP neck I would be on it. The color is great though I am such a fanatic for various shades of teal that I would choose that if I could. But that is a cool guitar.

    Well done and thanks for sharing such a cool story.
     
  12. pcovers

    pcovers Member

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    MJ Guitars as so rarely mentioned here, but their quality and willingness to be a little different makes them a real gem. They really do great work. Very nice guitar.
     
  13. CyberFerret

    CyberFerret Member

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    This guitar was posted in an NGD thread in the Small Luthiers section recently wasn't it? I think I posted in that thread, but I will post again here and say that this is one Beautiful guitar with a capital 'B'.

    I too am waiting on a custom build. It's been around 9 months now, and we still to get to the cutting stage, and in depth specs, but we've done some wood selection and basic design discussion. Cool, I'm in no hurry, as like the OP I want to get it done just right.
     
  14. lumco

    lumco Most of the roads I travel are muddy Gold Supporting Member

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    Great Story, I bet you play and sound as good as you write. Well conveyed.
     
  15. arthur rotfeld

    arthur rotfeld Member

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    Congrats. Looks like the guitar came out great.

    My last guitar and my next guitar are both customs. Some of us reach a point where we want specific things that don't line up with off-the-rack.
     
  16. Elias Graves

    Elias Graves Senior Member

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  17. Demioblue

    Demioblue Member

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    Could that be possible because the owner either didn't really know what he wanted in the beginning? or that the owner's tastes simply changed over time(which is very possible) Custom instruments are not for everyone, and most certainly are not recommended for those who have simply owned up to 5 guitars alone. You MUST go through a lot to really understand what it is you'd really want?

    A quick glance at the Emporium reveals very little custom instruments (onyl spotted one in the entire front page; that Kurt Wilson is sweet!). Most of the instruments found there, if high-end, are in fact boutique guitars, which are not exactly custom. For example, you could find a nice Grosh 59' spec Set Neck or Hollowtron, or perhaps a DeTemple 56, or a D'Pergo Bakersfield or a Collings or even a Teuffel? These aren't exactly custom instruments, but rather, high-end boutique offersings, which are still off-the-shelf (though that shelf is quite high up), and yes they still have their wait times. I'm sure the occasional custom surfaces now and then though.

    I don't deny one could out-grow his own tastes and end up selling his custom guitar in time, but I'd probably have to venture to guess that the time in-between switching is possibly longer than a production guitar? Possible?
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  18. Demioblue

    Demioblue Member

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    Yes, that was it. Not exactly an NGD thread this time though. Heh.

    When your build begins, you're going to have a heart attack wondering if you missed anything out or got everything correct. Heh... Take your time, look through the specs from time to time. Remember that even though the build begins, you CAN still change the order (though sometimes at a price).:bonk
     
  19. Mitch T

    Mitch T Member

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    I fully agree. I chose to do this in another timeframe, with slightly less experience but just enough ;) The luthier helped me out in finalizing my ideas; it was a great collaboration.
    I really, really love your Schroeder. The top looks fantastic, but I do miss a shot of the back! Must be lovely looking Honduras mahogany.

    Mine was a mish mash of styling and technical preferences but in all, it turned out to look like an original design instead of a bad photoshop :D Jazzmaster body, Godin/PRS headstock, Gretsch styling, Les Paul wood choice, volume knob up close like on a strat, piezo bridge with separate output to prevent any noise, Duesenberg trem, the works...
    An extremely nice guitar, just like you said: an extension of myself.
    Here it is:

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Bobby D

    Bobby D Member

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    that inlay you designed in BEAUTIFUL! congrats :agree
     

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