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Old 02-22-2021, 06:01 AM
Jimmy Recard Jimmy Recard is offline
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Default Custom guitar, if you did, why and what?

If you had a custom guitar built (forget cost for now) why would you do this over selecting a standard off the rack model (once again forgetting price) and what would you choose? I think about this option a bit and the reason why is I know exactly what I want in a guitar (at least I think I do) and unfortunately I can’t find it. If Yamaha made it I would go and pick one up tomorrow.

I guess I’m interested if people would mainly go for choice of woods, cosmetics, or dimensional specifications.
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:53 AM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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Why would you not want to let us know what you want in a guitar? Save a lot of time rather than what others want.
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:11 AM
Chipotle Chipotle is offline
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Originally Posted by Jimmy Recard View Post
I guess I’m interested if people would mainly go for choice of woods, cosmetics, or dimensional specifications.

By going custom, you get your preference for all three. That would certainly be one reason for going custom, whether from a boutique builder or "custom shop" from a bigger manufacturer. If you truly can't find the combination you're looking for in a production instrument, that would be a reason to go custom.

Other reasons are more personal. Maybe you just want an aesthetic that can't be bought off the shelf. Maybe there is a builder who makes guitars with tone you love. And, let's face it, sometimes there's an element of "just because you can".
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:38 AM
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blindboyjimi blindboyjimi is offline
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A custom guitar gives you just that. I love the sound of a Banner LG-2 and a 30’s L-00, but those were built quite differently with the L-00 1 3/4” x 2 3/8” and the Banner 1 3/4” x 2 1/8”. That 2 1/8” is difficult to finger pick for me and all of my guitars are 2 1/4”, 2 5/16” or 2 3/8”. I prefer the latter, just like the L-00. In fact, I actually prefer a 1 13/16” x 2 3/8” but neither come that way. Time for a custom from Kevin Kopp or David Flammang both of whom make a fantastic LG-2 copies.

I also have a 1936 000-18. It’s amazing. I’d love to have a 1936 000-28 to balance that sound but in rosewood. The 000-18 is worth about $16,500, but a 000-28 in the same condition would be about $50,000. I can’t tie up that much cash on one guitar as I love to have an assortment of guitars to play. Julius Borges, Bruce Sexauer, John Slobod, and others make the best vintage Martin copies in my opinion so I have a custom on order from Julius at about the same price as a 000-18.
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:47 AM
Bill R Bill R is offline
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I agree with Chipotle's comments. I have two custom guitars by John Greven. I chose him for several reasons. First, he builds guitars with the general tone I was looking for - kind of a pre-war Martin vibe. Second, he has LOTS of experience having built over 2,000 acoustics, so I knew he was at the top of his game as a luthier. Third, he was easy to work with. Fourth, he is very reasonable price wise. My two customs (a OOO and a 12-fret OO) actually cost less than what similar custom builds would have cost from a major manufacturer such as Martin or Taylor. Fifth, I was able to get exactly what I wanted in terms of woods, trim, cosmetics, dimensions, neck carve, etc. I'm sure others have had similar experiences with other custom builders.

I'm very happy with these two unique guitars and don't think I could have found them through a major manufacturer, even through a custom shop.

Music is vibration and vibration is the basis of all creation.

2002 Taylor GA 12-string custom: sitka/mahogany
2013 Greven OOO: Lutz/Brazilian
2021 Greven OO-12 fret: Lutz/Brazilian
2017 Rainsong Al Petteway Ltd. OOO: carbon fiber
2017 Birdsong Especial II Bass: Cypress/Rosewood
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:01 PM
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ChuckS ChuckS is online now
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I go the commissioned guitar route to get the tone and playability I'm looking for (lots of details related to tone and playability). I'll also select a luthier based on an appreciation of their aesthetic, then pretty much give them the freedom to select the aesthetic details.

2012 Carruth 12-fret 000 in Pernambuco and Adi
2010 Poling Sierra in Cuban Mahogany and Lutz
2015 Posch 13-fret 00 in Indian Rosewood and Adi
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:03 PM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile What I wanted ....

What I wanted did not exist yet, until John Kinnaird made them for me!

Plus an excellent single bench Luthier (like the sponsors here on AGF, hint hint) can take the time to wring every bit of tone out of an instrument. Factorys have schedules to meet, and just can't deliver the same level of TONE.

Way too much info in this build thread! Hahahahaha

Enjoy the search and stay well

3 KILLER John Kinnaird Customs. (I owned 6)
R.T 2c 12 fret Custom
2016 552ce 12X12
R.Wilson Weissy
A few choice 90s Taylors
budget electrics, and reso
Still Too many, but

Last edited by Guitars44me; 02-22-2021 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:10 PM
inthishope inthishope is offline
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I haven't had my build built yet, but I just went through this process and decided on a commissioned build for the following reasons:

1. No guitar that I could find already built existed without some compromise. In my case, a Bourgeois Slope D was what I wanted...but I wanted wood binding, not plastic. And I wanted a cutaway. I haven't seen that guitar in existence.

2. Personalization. Again in my case I was looking for a special guitar that really exhibits my personality and preferences. I want a unique rosette (can't get it from Bourgeois). I want some unique binding and centerline down the back (again, that's a nope from the factory). The commissioned build lets me decide on the exact level of bling.

3. Individual care in voicing. Taylor and Martin and Yamaha and probably every other maker under $4k or so makes everything cookie cutter identical. But wood isn't identical and to really get the wood to sing a skilled builder listens to the wood and shapes the pieces to vibrate together correctly. You can sometimes get lucky with the cookie cutter approach, but the majority of the time production guitars are nowhere near their potential in terms of tone.

4. Special experience. Even getting a BTO from Taylor and literally having Bob pick out wood for me and email me pictures all along the way was cool, but it was not the norm. Working intimately with the builder and having them really listen, understand your play style, understand your vision, understand what you love and hate about certain guitars...that's been really really cool. You never get that by just buying a guitar. Really, you aren't just buying a guitar, you are buying an experience AND getting (hopefully) exactly what you want.

I'll let ya know how my experience actually pans out in the latter part of this year. But I have a feeling it is going to be an incredible ride.
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:40 PM
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justonwo justonwo is offline
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I don’t get “custom” guitars because I need any special specifications that aren’t available elsewhere. I buy/commission luthier-built guitars because they sound better than what is available off the shelf. There are small things I can get by going fully custom on a build (neck profile, etc) that are nice to have but they aren’t my primary motivation. I also enjoy getting to pick my own woods but I could be pretty happy with a wide variety of tonewoods as well (so long as the top is spruce).
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Old 02-22-2021, 12:48 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Originally Posted by Jimmy Recard View Post

I guess IΒ’m interested if people would mainly go for choice of woods, cosmetics, or dimensional specifications.
For many people you are correct. In my case, when I first ordered the Olde Mac, in the late 90s, finding a guitar with a shorter scale (24.9" or 24.75") AND a 1 3/4" nut was actually a bit difficult. That plus I could specify the neck profile that I wanted.

To a lot of folks, a custom order also means wild, highly figured woods. Neither of mine has such, although they are pretty enough. Heeding advice from a friend with experience in custom orders, when i talked with my builder I did not even specify wood type, but rather tone and playability. Strong clear fundamental, with good string to string separation on the first one. (The builder choose Mahogany, which I had thought of but did not specify) and Adirondack top. I also wanted very responsive to a light attack.

But the main reason that I made the order was that I had played a custom guitar from the builder that my friend had. And that guitar just seemed to have another gear that my current guitars did not (Santa Cruz 000-12 fret. 70s Guild F50 and XL-212). Both custom builds that I have from that builder have that. A good custom builder can vary their top plate thickness and bracing to bring out the absolute best in responsiveness. (And as has been noted in the thread on very responsive guitar, made the Mac a bit difficult to play when I first got it, as it showed every mistake, clearly and loudly. Every clam. Every mis-fret. Every mis-pick. I had to learn to play that guitar to get the best from it. But I did, and it made me a much better player on everything else.

That does not get spoken of as much in threads about custom guitar. And upgrade in responsiveness and playability. Another gear. Maybe two.

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Old 02-22-2021, 01:07 PM
Lonzo Lonzo is offline
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Default could get your dream Bourgeois if you go through Eddies guitars and more so Matt Chulka.. I was doing it and discussed my wishes and ideas with Matt.. he was very helpful. You get wood binding for sure, also most probably a cutaway.. see no reason why you wouldn‘t. All guitars are (still) hand tuned by Dana I think, he also does bursts himself.
I had a JOMC built with a large soundhole. Koa binding, woods I wanted (however not down to individual sets.. but it could be possible?!) ..ask, nothing to lose, right ?
.. but yes.. if they say they don‘t do your wishes under point 2...

It is not as direct though as working with a single luthier, where you together with the artist go through basically any aspect of materials and shapes and .... I did just that with Mark Hatcher - and just like many others you can discuss most anything with them..
It is an extremely satisfying experience as you get a piece of musical art built with (some of) your input.
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:11 PM
Jeff Mc Jeff Mc is offline
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I have a little bit different take on things. The majority of my guitars were made by luthiers that you would consider custom builders. I have only done one custom order guitar though. I chose the woods and cosmetics for that one but realize that I didn't really have any unique physical specifications that I care about. A typical 1 3/4 neck usually feels fine to me. All of the others were orphans or spec guitars that I purchased from the builder and I have been totally happy with all of them. My one custom order from John Walker took about a year from when we first talked about it until I received it which is pretty quick in the grand scheme of things. I just don't have the patience to get on a 3+ year wait list.
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:39 PM
Malcolm Kindnes Malcolm Kindnes is online now
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Dimensional specifications for me. I like a chunky neck and wide string spacing, which is almost impossible to get in a production guitar.
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Old 02-22-2021, 08:12 PM
no1i no1i is offline
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For me, it was for the specs, tone and aesthetic of the guitar. Also, his waitlist was tremendously long and was not able to find anyone selling a used guitar of his. Lifetime warranty is a plus.
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Old 02-25-2021, 07:32 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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1) A guitar built for me, to my specs, will have exactly what I (think) I want, just the way I want it.
2) It gives me a neat feeling to know that no one, anywhere, has one like I have.
3) I get to promote some lesser-known but just-as-good woods, something i am interested in, even though many others aren't.
4) It is a blast if you are a hands-on kind of person to collaborate with a skilled builder. You'll have an additional emotional attachment as a result.

And then there are the comments others before me just made, all valid.
The Bard Rocks

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Sexauer L00 Adk/Magnolia
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