Having a guitar built? Think about it!!

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TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
The title isn't meant to put anyone off from having a guitar made/assembled but to ask you to really think about the process.

It's also not about recommending certain people but about the whole concept of having a guitar made. Once you have the recipe you can have the cake baked. It's then just choosing the right baker.

It is not as easy as you think!

If you know you want a 54 Blackguard Tele that you can't find in the shops then you already have the spec. It will have a maple neck, black pick-guard and vintage tuners. Opening the case when it arrives shouldn't be an unpleasant surprise! It won't have die cast tuners for instance. 

If you start with a blank sheet it is much harder to get the guitar you really wanted. I think the problem is that we don't really know what our own spec is.

I believe that you must get the fundamental specs Right.
  
Changing bridges and tuners and pickups can all be done after if you find you prefer something different. Body shapes, wood and neck material can't be.

For instance, let's make it simple,  if you want a Tele made/assembled imagine going in to a shop with 50 Tele's of all varieties on the wall.
  
What do you go for first? Is it a maple or rosewood neck? What does your instinct go for? 

Ok, let's say it is rosewood, suddenly there are only 25 Tele's to choose from. Do you want a bound or unbound body? Now you are down to 20. Do you want a Thinline? No, so now you are down to 15. Do you want a humbucker in the neck? No, so now you are down to 10.
What colours do you go for??  Now you are down to 5. You have honed in to what you really want in a Tele. No compromises being made.
You choose your favourite colour and you play it. If it shouts out at you then BUY it! You have in your hands your perfect Tele! 

Having your own spec guitar made is an unknown quantity first time around. It is a great journey and one I have made 8 times now. I only slightly blew it once.
 
You have freedom to choose but choosing wisely is not easy. For instance, your mate has a cheap Strat copy but the neck is to die for!! It fits your hands like a glove so you can take measurements at various points of neck depth, you can take the shape of the neck at various points using a radius comb and have the measurements of your ideal neck. You know it will come back with a Tele headshape.
Hang on though! The frets are a bit small so you will get bigger frets fitted and have the radius changed from 7.25 to 9.5 because you can. You have just fundamentally altered how that neck will feel to you! Your web may fit the back of the neck perfectly but when you wrap your fingers around it the feel will be different. It won't be the neck you fell in love with.

I've been around guitars for a very long time although I am new here. One thing I am certain about is that I know what I like. The other thing I am certain about is that I don't know what I like!  It changes all the time although I do have certain parameters.

This Forum has some great builders, finishers, pick-up guru's, parts suppliers and I am hoping they will add to the conversation.

Each can pass on their experience of getting the customer the right outcome based on what you are wanting made. The further "out" you go the less chance of it having any appeal to someone else. Make sure the Flying Vee with a bolt on Tele neck and three single coils with a Floyd is what you really want because you could be stuck with it playing Jazz on it in your old age!

Please join in to help others see things they may never have thought about. It's a great journey that just needs some thinking about.

Cheers.


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Comments

  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1942
    Even though I have very particular demands for Guitars there is no way I’d ever have one built for me, there are too many variables and if you don’t like it then you are stuck with a huge financial loss
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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 19266
    Said it many times before - I ordered a custom built guitars some years ago and hated it. I would never do it again.

    The other issue for me these days, is why would it be necessary anyway? The choice and quality of guitars on offer seems to make the whole idea redundant....
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7856
    Said it many times before - I ordered a custom built guitars some years ago and hated it. I would never do it again.

    The other issue for me these days, is why would it be necessary anyway? The choice and quality of guitars on offer seems to make the whole idea redundant....
    So you can tell everyone what a unique and special butterfly you are
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • RiftAmpsRiftAmps Frets: 1329
    I'm on the other side of the argument - I've had many custom guitars made for me and each one has been fantastic. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
    Rift Amplification
    Handwired Guitar Amplifiers
    Brackley, Northamptonshire
    www.riftamps.co.uk
    *I no longer offer replacement speaker baffles*
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3660
    Said it many times before - I ordered a custom built guitars some years ago and hated it. I would never do it again.

    The other issue for me these days, is why would it be necessary anyway? The choice and quality of guitars on offer seems to make the whole idea redundant....
    So you can tell everyone what a unique and special butterfly you are
    The thing I wanted which I couldn't really see at the time was a superstrat made of mahogany and maple with a Gibson scale length and Les paul profile neck. So I had that made for me and 8 years later it's still my favourite guitar

    As far as spec went after 35 years of gig'ing I knew exactly what would work and that's what I went for .... kind of different to what you want. The pickups are EMG's for example, not the nicest of clean tones but more suited to cutting through dense mixes and isolating me from dodgy generator wiring and keeping the noise down in venues fitted with dimmer switches and fridge pumps. 
    Sims guitars in Kent made mine, only took about 3 months and was about 2K which I thing is very reasonable considering the quality of work and hardware. The rest of my band all had Sim's guitars made too. Highly recommended 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 2175
    TA22GT said:
    ... the problem is that we don't really know what our own spec is.
    Even if you do know which components you want they may not work together the way you expect. Then there’s final adjustments, such as getting the right treble bleed circuit. Also, your ideal spec will change over time as your knowledge increases, your ears improve, and your playing style develops.

    Have you thought about assembling your own guitar, or buying one that is near spec and modifying it?
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    edited July 11
    Hmm.... not quite going the way I had hoped.
     
    I wasn't trying to convince anyone who knows they will never have a guitar built to change their minds. No point.

    I was hoping to encourage those that DO want to go that route to really think about it and through the help of all the builders/finishers/ pick up guys to see a clearer route to getting what they want.

    @Roland ;;   Yes I've built lots of partscasters over the years and had great fun but they were always commercial parts put together that anyone else could easily do. I have good mechanical skills so it was easy but never unique...which leads me on to.....

    Sorry  @meltedbuzzbox ;  I am rather a special butterfly actually.
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  • steersteer Frets: 298
    You have spent way too much time thinking about this.  :)
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    steer said:
    You have spent way too much time thinking about this.  :)
    If you read my first post you would see why commisioning 8 guitars does take a bit of thinking time. (:) 
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  • dangriffithsdangriffiths Frets: 246
    I think if you know what you want it is fine.  The best is a builder who will educate and tell you when what you think will work just won’t on a guitar. 
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    I think if you know what you want it is fine.  The best is a builder who will educate and tell you when what you think will work just won’t on a guitar. 
    Exactly the point of this thread. Have a wisdom.
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1942
    TA22GT said:
    I think if you know what you want it is fine.  The best is a builder who will educate and tell you when what you think will work just won’t on a guitar. 
    Exactly the point of this thread. Have a wisdom.
    And may I add, a builder who knows what they are doing and can actually play, there is so much snake oil about Guitars and guitar building that it’s very easy to disappear up ones own arse. 
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7856
    TA22GT said:
    Hmm.... not quite going the way I had hoped.
     
    I wasn't trying to convince anyone who knows they will never have a guitar built to change their minds. No point.

    I was hoping to encourage those that DO want to go that route to really think about it and through the help of all the builders/finishers/ pick up guys to see a clearer route to getting what they want.

    @Roland ;;   Yes I've built lots of partscasters over the years and had great fun but they were always commercial parts put together that anyone else could easily do. I have good mechanical skills so it was easy but never unique...which leads me on to.....

    Sorry  @meltedbuzzbox ;  I am rather a special butterfly actually.
    :-D

    I really have no issue with people commissioning builds. I think your post was well construed and highlights a lot of potential issues. 
    I would never discourage someone from it, but it has to be something special. I don't see why you would get someone to make you a tele/strat/Les paul as there are so many readily available in almost every guitar store. 
    All my opinion of course. 
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    sweepy said:
    TA22GT said:
    I think if you know what you want it is fine.  The best is a builder who will educate and tell you when what you think will work just won’t on a guitar. 
    Exactly the point of this thread. Have a wisdom.
    And may I add, a builder who knows what they are doing and can actually play, there is so much snake oil about Guitars and guitar building that it’s very easy to disappear up ones own arse. 
    True. The guy that builds mine plays out live all the time, is a great player, uses his own guitars and has had TV airplay with his band in the 80's so he has been around the block.

    It shows in his builds. He is not just a carpenter.

    Anyway, this thread is not about him but I do feel you are correct.
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  • FelineGuitarsFelineGuitars Frets: 5631
    edited July 11
    TA22GT said:
    The title isn't meant to put anyone off from having a guitar made/assembled but to ask you to really think about the process.

    It's also not about recommending certain people but about the whole concept of having a guitar made. Once you have the recipe you can have the cake baked. It's then just choosing the right baker.

    It is not as easy as you think!

    If you know you want a 54 Blackguard Tele that you can't find in the shops then you already have the spec. It will have a maple neck, black pick-guard and vintage tuners. Opening the case when it arrives shouldn't be an unpleasant surprise! It won't have die cast tuners for instance. 

    If you start with a blank sheet it is much harder to get the guitar you really wanted. I think the problem is that we don't really know what our own spec is.

    I believe that you must get the fundamental specs Right.
      
    Changing bridges and tuners and pickups can all be done after if you find you prefer something different. Body shapes, wood and neck material can't be.

    For instance, let's make it simple,  if you want a Tele made/assembled imagine going in to a shop with 50 Tele's of all varieties on the wall.
      
    What do you go for first? Is it a maple or rosewood neck? What does your instinct go for? 

    Ok, let's say it is rosewood, suddenly there are only 25 Tele's to choose from. Do you want a bound or unbound body? Now you are down to 20. Do you want a Thinline? No, so now you are down to 15. Do you want a humbucker in the neck? No, so now you are down to 10.
    What colours do you go for??  Now you are down to 5. You have honed in to what you really want in a Tele. No compromises being made.
    You choose your favourite colour and you play it. If it shouts out at you then BUY it! You have in your hands your perfect Tele! 

    Having your own spec guitar made is an unknown quantity first time around. It is a great journey and one I have made 8 times now. I only slightly blew it once.
     
    You have freedom to choose but choosing wisely is not easy. For instance, your mate has a cheap Strat copy but the neck is to die for!! It fits your hands like a glove so you can take measurements at various points of neck depth, you can take the shape of the neck at various points using a radius comb and have the measurements of your ideal neck. You know it will come back with a Tele headshape.
    Hang on though! The frets are a bit small so you will get bigger frets fitted and have the radius changed from 7.25 to 9.5 because you can. You have just fundamentally altered how that neck will feel to you! Your web may fit the back of the neck perfectly but when you wrap your fingers around it the feel will be different. It won't be the neck you fell in love with.

    I've been around guitars for a very long time although I am new here. One thing I am certain about is that I know what I like. The other thing I am certain about is that I don't know what I like!  It changes all the time although I do have certain parameters.

    This Forum has some great builders, finishers, pick-up guru's, parts suppliers and I am hoping they will add to the conversation.

    Each can pass on their experience of getting the customer the right outcome based on what you are wanting made. The further "out" you go the less chance of it having any appeal to someone else. Make sure the Flying Vee with a bolt on Tele neck and three single coils with a Floyd is what you really want because you could be stuck with it playing Jazz on it in your old age!

    Please join in to help others see things they may never have thought about. It's a great journey that just needs some thinking about.

    Cheers.


    Much of what you describe is called RESEARCH, and if spending a large amount of money on something, you do RESEARCH first.

    Your research may reveal that you don't really know what you like, or that your tastes change on a weekly basis.
    This would be as much of a problem if you were buying an off the peg guitar as this weeks purchase may be not what you like next week/month.

    Next it's about being able to communicate effectively with a guitar builder and make sure you are on THE SAME PAGE over the ideas and concepts.
    I take care to discuss every detail that I will need to know (and it may get tedious as you will be asked about radius preferences, scale lengths, neck sizes, fret-wire sizes etc etc ). I take a lot of time explaining these different concepts, and maybe letting the customer try guitars that may have certain features under discussion

    Sometimes these days I turn away a build commission because the customer doesn't seem sure enough and it's trouble waiting further down the line for me.
     I did have a bad experience like this once building a custom strat, where the customer disappeared for 5 years as the project was 2/3 built (nothing sinister - went through a divorce and worked abroad and kind of went AWOL), and proceeded to play only acoustic in that time, so the strat neck that was 100% the size he wanted when he commissioned it felt much smaller than the acoustic he had played for years when he turned up again, and made us build another neck to his new preferences.

    You may also do well to choose a builder who seems to be very good at building the types of guitars you are drawn to.
    It would be not as good someone wanting to discuss Gypsy Jazz or Macaferi type guitar builds with me as with someone who has a passion for both that music and type of guitar . However come and talk about Les Pauls , Flying Vs , explorers, teles, strats, etc etc and  we will be on the same page. Also I get to put some passion into what I am building.

    Many guitars have a re-sale value. Some you'll never want to sell.
    Stockist of Earvana nuts, BKP, Oil City And Monty's pickups. Sperzel, Tonepros, Gotoh and Graphtech too!
    Expert guitar repairs and upgrades - fretwork our speciality! www.felineguitars.com.  Facebook too!

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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    @FelineGuitars ;  Thank you for your input. Appreciated.
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  • TheGuitarWeaselTheGuitarWeasel Frets: 3701
    edited July 11
    For my own part I come at this two ways, firstly as a player: There is a guitar concept I've always fancied ... that's a flying V with two P90s, plain mahogany body and a little Junior sort of pickguard. The closest anybody has made to this is the Epiphone Poppa Chubby Chubby V

    Close, but I'd want a wrap round bridge/tailpiece ... and of course the quality is Epiphone rather than Gibson. 
    So I intend in the end to have exactly what I want made for me ... simply because its not something a mainstream maker will do.

    Secondly with my pickup maker hat on ... I'm used to working with people all the time to get exactly what they want ... bearing in mind their rig, effects etc ... seems the most natural thing in the world.
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • AnderzAnderz Frets: 27
    When I ordered my Jackson dream in the summer of 1996 I kind of knew based on previous guitars that some months would be waiting for it to arrive. The catalog was 2 years old at that point. It came by December and so I arranged to pick it up after new years in January 1997.

    It was love at first look and still is today. The Rhoads shape fits me even. The serial: RR2772

    Much later l joined a Jackson guitar forum and presenting my dream guitar: did you order it like that?

    I learned that Jackson had done my guitar for me as it was custom shop serial! Later I learned that was the policy at the time for that kind of order anyway.

    But building you got to know what you want and I might copy my partscaster to be 100% US Fender Stratocaster some day as I can't think anything more perfect as is.
    Computer Shop UK Your PC Needs In One Place: https://computershopuk.com/
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    For my own part I come at this two ways, firstly as a player: There is a guitar concept I've always fancied ... that's a flying V with two P90s, plain mahogany body and a little Junior sort of pickguard. The closest anybody has made to this is the Epiphone Poppa Chubby Chubby V

    Close, but I'd want a wrap round bridge/tailpiece ... and of course the quality is Epiphone rather than Gibson. 
    So I intend in the end to have exactly what I want made for me ... simply because its not something a mainstream maker will do.

    Secondly with my pickup maker hat on ... I'm used to working with people all the time to get exactly what they want ... bearing in mind their rig, effects etc ... seems the most natural thing in the world.
    I hope you get your guitar made one day!

    You know what you want and why you want it and being "in the trade" you will take advice from whoever builds it for you to achieve it. 
    A dear departed friend had a Vee made and although they aren't my cup of tea really it sounded phenomenal! 

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  • Strat54Strat54 Frets: 993
    edited July 11
    Said it many times before - I ordered a custom built guitars some years ago and hated it. I would never do it again.

    The other issue for me these days, is why would it be necessary anyway? The choice and quality of guitars on offer seems to make the whole idea redundant....
    I agree, been there done that and never kept any of them. Despite ordering what I wanted at the time the reality wasn't so great. Huge expectations come with a specific order. I'd rather try whats out there and then decide.My favourite guitar and the one I've had the longest (since 1999) actually came to me from Staten Island. The dealer sent it me and said, if you don't like it then ship it me back....can't say fairer than that. It was a pleasant surprise. Must have owned over 70 Tele's whilst I've had that one, nothing comes close. I've pretty much given up looking. 
    What I have down though is personalise it, has Rutters saddles, Callaham neckplate, Rutters knobs, strap buttons and string guide, decent pots and switch. Callaham slot screws and a hugely expensive Bakelite repro guard.
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9146
    resale is always going to be an issue on any item custom made to your spec.  If its your number one concern, i would say don't ever go custom.

    If you are trying to get to a guitar that does everything you may also run into issues.   Most designs work best when they do a few things well.   Focus your custom ideas on a few main things you want from a main guitar. Don't try and cram it all in or you will be buying a Homer.

    If your design is really out there try to remember most guitar designs go through prototypes and R&D.  The first version of a new design is unlikely to be perfect.  
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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 882
    As a builder who is vintage biased it makes sense to me catering to that demographic, people that have had strats teles and les pauls but for some reason haven't found the right one or specs that simply aren't available mass produced

    For instance Poopot on the forum had a tele neck made by us and didn't like the modern Gibsons he'd played so i let him play a few different LP style guitars which he liked better, he actually said why can't gibson make them like these, lol

    I also like mixing and matching fender and gibson and did set neck strat and tele with gibson style necks which i prefer, you can't buy these either, same as a full carved top dc junior which I'm building now

    If you can't find it in the shops get something made by someone you trust and visit them and try some guitars out would be my advice
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    WezV said:
    resale is always going to be an issue on any item custom made to your spec.  If its your number one concern, i would say don't ever go custom.

    If you are trying to get to a guitar that does everything you may also run into issues.   Most designs work best when they do a few things well.   Focus your custom ideas on a few main things you want from a main guitar. Don't try and cram it all in or you will be buying a Homer.

    If your design is really out there try to remember most guitar designs go through prototypes and R&D.  The first version of a new design is unlikely to be perfect.  
    Thank you for your input. This is valuable advice.
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    As a builder who is vintage biased it makes sense to me catering to that demographic, people that have had strats teles and les pauls but for some reason haven't found the right one or specs that simply aren't available mass produced

    For instance Poopot on the forum had a tele neck made by us and didn't like the modern Gibsons he'd played so i let him play a few different LP style guitars which he liked better, he actually said why can't gibson make them like these, lol

    I also like mixing and matching fender and gibson and did set neck strat and tele with gibson style necks which i prefer, you can't buy these either, same as a full carved top dc junior which I'm building now

    If you can't find it in the shops get something made by someone you trust and visit them and try some guitars out would be my advice
    Once again great advice based on actual reality!
    This is the kind of input that is needed.
    Not everyone would consider the risk of obtaining what they really want but some people do! 
    The thread was started to build up a picture of the pitfalla and the rewards of doing your own thing.
    Thank you for your input.
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  • DougDoug Frets: 118
    edited July 26
    I'm Perfectly happy with mine Fat/Round necked LP DC Special built by @GSPBASSES , Faber nickel hardware from @streethawk , pickups from @theguitarweasel, wiring harness from Marc@Mojopickups and finished with lush nitro from @lamf68  Love it!

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  • artiebearartiebear Frets: 105
    edited July 11
    Doug said:
    perfectly happy with mine Fat/Round necked LP DC Special built by @GSPBASSES , Faber nickel hardware from @streethawk , pickups from @theguitarweasel, wiring harness from Marc@Mojo and finished with lush nitro from @lamf68

    I hope that I'm too drunk and full of hurt after recent sporting events , but my bitterness is about to spill henceforth. Isn't that just a Gibson copy, wasn't this thread about custom guitars ? Apologies if not, if so why ?............... thats a local made Chibson as far as I can see
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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 882
    artiebear said:
    Doug said:
    perfectly happy with mine Fat/Round necked LP DC Special built by @GSPBASSES , Faber nickel hardware from @streethawk , pickups from @theguitarweasel, wiring harness from Marc@Mojo and finished with lush nitro from @lamf68
    Isn't that just a Gibson copy, wasn't this thread about custom guitars ? Apologies if not, if so why ?............... thats a local made Chibson as far as I can see
    in that case virtually everything else is a chibson according to you inc collings the list is endless

    One thing you can't go in and buy is a dc junior with a vintage fret scale, only small makers use it, some care some don't, i know i do as that's the only scale i use on any short scale i make


    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 16263
    edited July 11
    artiebear said:
    Doug said:
    perfectly happy with mine Fat/Round necked LP DC Special built by @GSPBASSES , Faber nickel hardware from @streethawk , pickups from @theguitarweasel, wiring harness from Marc@Mojo and finished with lush nitro from @lamf68

    I hope that I'm too drunk and full of hurt after recent sporting events , but my bitterness is about to spill henceforth. Isn't that just a Gibson copy, wasn't this thread about custom guitars ? Apologies if not, if so why ?............... thats a local made Chibson as far as I can see
    Local made Chibson? Eh? 

    Yes, strictly speaking it’s a fake - but it’s only a fake if it’s sold as a complete unit. A custom headstock job does not a Chibson make. 

    If anything, it’s an Engson. And even then, it’s not really. If I chose to put a fender logo on my partscaster, it doesn’t make it a Chibson. It makes it a partscaster with a fender logo on it. 

    I have a 51Precision partscaster with no logo but it does have the right shape headstock and body dimensions. It’s custom tho - you won’t find another out there similar. But it’s not a Chibcision tho.
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  • FelineGuitarsFelineGuitars Frets: 5631
    Seriously no pleasing some people...............

    Many guitars have a re-sale value. Some you'll never want to sell.
    Stockist of Earvana nuts, BKP, Oil City And Monty's pickups. Sperzel, Tonepros, Gotoh and Graphtech too!
    Expert guitar repairs and upgrades - fretwork our speciality! www.felineguitars.com.  Facebook too!

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  • gusman2xgusman2x Frets: 605
    Said it many times before - I ordered a custom built guitars some years ago and hated it. I would never do it again.

    The other issue for me these days, is why would it be necessary anyway? The choice and quality of guitars on offer seems to make the whole idea redundant....
    So you can tell everyone what a unique and special butterfly you are

    It's why I buy customs.
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