What do you look for in a boutique guitar?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Lex Luthier, Jan 3, 2008.


  1. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    After reading some threads about stuff being nit picked about boutique guitars, I am curious to know what people look for. Since I build guitars occasionally in my spare time only for myself (not for profit, FWIW) with only my personal needs and designs in mind, maybe I have tunnel vision about what other people actually want and are looking for in a boutique guitar. Designs? Details/Cosmetic? Other? I'm just curious. Maybe I can learn something I haven't thought of.

    Look forward to reading the comments. For the moderators sake, please keep it civil. Thanks.
     
  2. Millul

    Millul Member

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    If I had the cash for a totally custom, built from scratch guitar, I'd look for:
    1-functionality,ergonomics and playability:I need the guitar to be built around me and my playing style!

    2-aesthetics:shape (also involved in point 1), colour, wood patterns, headstock, etc
    3-it has to be built flawlessly, with high quality parts
    Since I can't afford one, I'm going to buy all the parts and assemble and modify them to my needs and tastes!
     
  3. jeremym19

    jeremym19 Member

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    I think that the most important part of a custom guitar is the builder, a skilled builder that communicates well and has your wants and needs in mind while making the guitar will make you a great guitar.
     
  4. davefg34

    davefg34 Member

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    I'd like to echo jeremym19's values for a luthier. Skills, communication, and fair-minded businessman make a good candidate for a luthier. Make an agreement regarding the purposed instrument and stick to it.

    Dave Falk
     
  5. Mark Kane

    Mark Kane Silver Supporting Member

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    The most important thing to me is this, the builder should have his own thing going on, his idea on what is the best tone, vibe, feel and asthetic. When a guy says; let me know what you want, I can build it, I turn the switch off. Great product, art, what have you starts with a great idea that then appeals to people.
     
  6. leets

    leets Member

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    High quality craftsmanship, and attention to detail!

    2-3 weeks before my custom Grosh Setneck arrives.... :BEER
     
  7. Jim S

    Jim S Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    The key think I look for or insist upon is the luthier must affix all joints with a 4:1 ratio of aged hide glue with Grey Poupon.


    After that, it's whether you like the instrument and the reputation for delivering the goods at the promised time.
     
  8. davefg34

    davefg34 Member

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    There appears a prevalent value for the American guitar buyers to desire handmade instrument with machine-like finish qualities associated with it.

    Disguising tool marks in favor of the machine ethic obliterates the relationship between maker and instrument.

    Genres, which do embrace mark of the makers, are viol families, classical/flamenco. There must be others.

    So long has the industrial age affected our way of thinking that the values of good, cheap, quality permeate most selections of instrument purchases. Is it bad? Are there alternatives?

    The boutique maker or individual luthier usually has something to offer other than what larger manufactures produce. Mass production of instruments should yield cheaper prices. However you find Manufactures custom shops builds to be some of the most expensive instruments on the market. What attributes sets the high price points?

    Well I seem to be raising a lot of points with little resolution. My time allottment for web writing is coming to an end. I hope to inspire discussions among members mostly rather than espouse a point of view. I also hope to have reasonable conclusions for the points raised.

    Keep discussing.
     
  9. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    I want it to look good.
    Then I want it to play/feel even better than it looks :)


    Attention to detail. Hyde glue is a plus!
     
  10. rosscoep

    rosscoep Member

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    +1 on that. By the time we pick out a custom built guitar most of the quality/craftsmanship questions have been answered. The relationship with the builder then becomes crucial. I just made a decision to go to one builder rather than another-both make beautiful instruments-due to the rapid response from the former and the fact that he encouraged my detailed questions and my individual desires in an instrument. All over the Holidays. I'd tell you who it was but I'm very selfish and want to get on that waiting list before you.
    :Devil

    When I had my Klein electric made I went to Lorenzo's shop and sat and played many different pu configurations, etc..He was very pleasant and patient. I think he even made pizza for myself and my buddy's. He turned it into a fine day that I still remember almost ten years later.
     
  11. greeny

    greeny Member

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    High quality craftsmanship, and attention to detail!

    This is the main thing for me as well, this then should translate to great playability and if we are lucky sound.
     
  12. Martin Horne

    Martin Horne Member

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    The #1 thing for me is the feel/shape of the neck. I don't get used to a neck; it either feels good right off the bat or it never will. After that, I need a guitar that is not too heavy as I gig full time, and one that is hum free in both single coil and humbucking modes.
     
  13. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    Hey, who leaked out my secret recipe for hide glue? ;)

    Great insights, keep 'em coming!
     
  14. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Detail Detail Detail .
     
  15. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    I look for something I can't get off the rack, in design, materials and execution.
     
  16. mojocaster.com

    mojocaster.com Supporting Member

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    Superb craftsmanship at the service of my design requirements.
    Expert advice to help me refine said design requirements.
    A quality human being whose passion I want to support via commissioning them to build me a guitar.
    Higher quality woods and accessories than I would normally find on an "off-the-shelf" guitar.
    An unparalleled attention to detailed, doubled with a passion for the guitar at least equal to mine :)
     
  17. Thor

    Thor Member

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    I think that a great luthier needs great eyes, ears and mouth.

    An eye for style and design as well as for detail. Also nice to keep an eye on the clock. I have the utmost respect for guys who close their lists once they know that they are at their limit, and then start taking orders again once they get caught up.

    An ear for good tone. To be able to use this ear to hear and predict what combination of materials will best achieve their goals. Also an ear to hear a customer's needs/concerns/questions.

    A mouth that is able to express their thoughts and ideas, convey enthusiasm, and to speek honestly about the process. It's also nice if the mouth likes to smile - it's a great thing when a builder is as excited about your new guitar as you are!

    Cheers,

    Edward
     
  18. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    first and foremost, superior attention to detail: ergonomics, flawless intonation and playability, etc. Fancy cosmetics are nice but its a musical instrument 1st & foremost and that's where it must stand out to be worth the premium -- IMO.
     
  19. DC1

    DC1 Member

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    FIRST the quality of the person. Something I have discovered over the years is the brilliant minds and hearing of good builders. For instance, I have discovered that most anything Tom Anderson (among a bunch of others) likes or recommends is going to ring my bell. Part of the process of discovering this has been the builder getting to know me. When they do so, they know what I will like, and often before I know it myself.

    That is a wonderful thing to experience.

    They will also straighten me out if I have a misconception. This is a vastly better relationship than the "customer is always right" retail model. Sometimes I am wrong. Tell me. Thank you.

    Great builders know the wood they are using and will tap it and have great instincts for which individual pieces will work well together in a way I will like. This alone is worth the price of admission.

    I look for custom wide neck options. I use nothing smaller than 1.75" at the nut, fairly thick C shape and no more the 12" radius and 15" is even better.

    I love great hardware. I like Callaham's hardtail baseplate for S guitars, with KTS Titanium saddles. I need a builder who will either use these, or show me something they like better.

    I don't give a rats patootie about "vintage" and traditional ideas and don't care at all what Jimi or Eric used, so new ideas and approaches are something I welcome and seek out. At the end of the day, it has to sound amazing and that is more important than simply being new.

    I haven't bought an off the shelf electric guitar in 30 years. Are we lucky or what?

    DC
     
  20. Bogner

    Bogner Member

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    Fit, finish, mojo, playability, ergonomics, style, woods, craftsmanship, components, etc.
     

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