Thinking on ordering a custom guitar, them I think the first question you should make to yourself is: why? Why do you want a new guitar? Alright, everyone always need a new guitar, but this question is the most important for you to come up with a clear answer before contacting your luthier (hopefully me 😉 ).
There are 3 main reasons that might be driving the desire for a new guitar:
Now, the notion of a custom guitar can change drasticaly depending on the context we look into. A custom guitar for Fender will always take the shape of a Fender model as the canvas where the client can add their customization desires.
This experience can be quiet different with a one man shop or even a small boutique. We normaly aren’t bound to a factory production line, or a very strick heritage we need to follow. Even if we have our individual style we can apply it to the client dream (or we should!).
Now back to the initial question of why, lets us dive into the three main reasons.
Aesthetic – This could be as simple as a desire to have a Purple spark finish, have an instrument designed to a certain design style or support the luthier artistic visions and allow them to express themselves with complete freedom.
Ergonomic – Ergonomic reasons might be the driving motor for your custom guitar. They can come into play in terms of neck specks or can be the driving motor for a completely new shapes in order to respond to your necessities.
Sound – Sonic reasons might seem simple enough that you could just adapt an existing guitar, but they can also be addressed in a deeper level and generate a unique design response (sliding pickups?!)
After answering the why, we can them focus on the how! How will we develop the design process in order to generate the design to respond to your dreams.
The next step is to complete a simple design brief with 6 questions and take the answers to be the pillars to the entire design process:
-Main reason to order a custom instrument (you kind saw this one comming!)?
-3 main aspects you consider essential in a instrument?
-3 guitar designs that you love the most, and why or what you love about them?
-3 guitar design you like the least, and why or what you don’t like in them?
-3 design objects that you love ( not instruments or smart phones…)?
-Main problem you would like to solve with this new guitar?
Now the questions 2-5 are to set the aesthetic universe were we will be working and as such they deserve proper reflection. The 1 question is to reflect all we talked about initially, the last question objective is to ask you to be really focused and precise if possible. The answer to this question could be ” I need 28 frets” or “a really light guitar” for example.
Obviously there will be questions about the specs of the guitar (fretboard radius, pickups configurations…), but these are technical aspects that even if they can impact the guitar design will most likely not be the protagonists of the design process.