How long does it take to build a guitar?
There is somewhere between 120 and 150 hours of labor in each instrument.
Do you build them by hand?
Yes, I make all of the parts in my instruments (except the obvious ones) in my shop with my own hands, but I think the expression "hand made" is over used and doesn't mean too much. I suppose that by "hand made" people usually mean "made with care," and that is certainly true. I've found that I get the best results by building guitars in batches of twelve or so: the increase in precision and efficiency is dramatic, and it's not so many that I can't get excited about each guitar I make. I've designed and built a lot of machines and tools that make the process faster and much more consistent, but they don't substitute for basic hand skills.
What kinds of wood do you use?
In general I use traditional woods in my guitars. Most of the curly maple used in bodies is a European variety intended for fine cellos. More exotic woods are getting harder to find consistently, but in any case, tops and backs are carved from solid book-matched plates, as any violin family instrument would be. Necks are made from Vermont curly maple, which is book-matched, and for additional stability I use a proprietary re-enforcement system that increases strength and produces a neck free of the dead spots in most guitar necks. Fret boards, headstock veneers, tailpieces, and bridge plates are all made of ebony, and are manufactured by me from rough wood. Lately I'm leaning towards more local and sustainable woods.
What are the tonal differences in the woods you use?
The type of wood does make some difference in my guitars, but less than it would in a fully acoustic instrument. In general the body wood (back and sides) has only a minor effect, and the top wood will make more of a difference. As a rule, the denser woods result in a brighter sound while the less dense woods will sound warmer. I find that the curly maple I like to use for tops gives a good balanced tone with a nice bright top end and a full midrange, and is a good choice for most players. Spruce tops will have a quick attack with a note that develops a more woody tone, probably more suitable for jazz guitarists. Iíve used Claro Walnut on some recent guitars tops, which sounded rather sweet to me. Some woods like Rosewood or Padauk might look nice but are too dense to use for tops.
Can I get a guitar made out of Koa like Trey's?
No, sorry. Koa is an endangered wood and is becoming very difficult to find in the sizes and quality I need. I've essentially given up on it as they cut any of the nice stuff that's left into veneers or acoustic sets because they can get more money for it that way. That's how it is in the wood market, something becomes popular and then you can't get it any more. It's likely that many of the woods I've used in the past won't always be available.
Are you taking custom orders?
I'm taking orders on guitars with some limited options (see models pages.) I'm happy to discuss custom colors if there's something you'd like to see, or custom electronics etc., but if it's not something I'm into I'll let you know.
I have this idea about having butterflies and turtles inlayed down the fretboard, and an inlay of my dog Noodles on the headstock. Wouldn't that be cool?
Cool maybe, but Iím strictly in the "less is more" camp when it comes to inlay.
Do you build basses? Any plans on introducing a line of basses?
No, I've built some basses in my life but I don't play bass and I'm not really attuned to the subtleties of it. It's really a different animal. Anyway, 'ím much too busy building guitars for right now.
Whatís the difference between a Sidereal day and a Mean Solar day?
About 4 minutes.
How do I get on the wait list? What are the current wait times
Send me an email and maybe we can work something out. If I can fit you in I will ask for a small retainer to get on the list, and a deposit of 25% when construction starts. Construction time is typically 7 or 8 months. I don't like to get too far ahead of myself and keep people waiting for a number of years so I'm keeping my list limited. It helps a lot if you know what you want, although I'll try to answer questions if I can.
I sent you an email offering money right now for a guitar, why haven't you responded?
I'm sorry but it usually doesnít work that way. To be honest I don't really have a lot of guitars hanging around that aren't spoken for, as I am building mostly to order these days. I do make some guitars on spec but these don't tend to last too long, so offering me money up front doesn't motivate me very much, in fact it seems a little crass.
I might be in your area soon. Can I come to your shop and check out guitars in person?
Sure, if you're a serious customer. I'm happy to have visitors and always keep a couple of demo guitars for people to handle. It usually makes things easier actually. However I generally don't have a lot of guitars for immediate sale, as I've said.
Do you make left-handed guitars? Will they cost more?
Yes, I'll build lefty guitars. No, they donít cost any more.
Why donít you update your website more often?
Sorry, I get very busy in the shop and the website is always just sitting there, so it's easy to put off. Maybe I should procrastinate later.
Is your headstock designed after the state of Vermont?
Yes, the headstock is an exact representation of Vermont, only upside down. If you look for it you can see the Winooski River just south of Malletís Bay.
Can I get a guitar with a whammy bar?
Um, I'd rather not.
Do you know there are people making knock-offs of your guitars?
Yes, thanks. They all suck.
Why do you use the pickups you use?
Pickups are like microphones. They canít make sound, only pick up whatís there, get it? The Seymour Duncan SH-1s are copies of the classic Les Paul humbuckers, nicely made, with alnico magnets and not too much wire, so the'íre fairly low impedance, and they just seem to work well with my guitars. I modify them slightly so that in single-coil mode with both pickups on they are hum-canceling, and I also pot them. And yes, they are the same pickups in Trey's guitars. If someone had a strong preference for something else I'd be glad to accommodate, but I've tried other pickups in my guitars and I always come back to the Duncans.
Is there a dealer in my area where I can see one?
No, I only sell guitars directly via my website. The best I can do right now is to offer a two week money back guarantee, no questions asked.
What kind of case comes with the guitar?
The cases I use are SKB rectangular cases, model 4214, which are very rugged without being too heavy, and have convenient wheels for rolling. I custom fit the interiors with extra bracing and convenient pockets, and line them with soft fuzzy fabric.
Are you accepting applications for shop workers or apprentices?
I'm not able to take on help at this time, as my shop is quite small and only suited for one person. Also like my friend Creston I wouldn't know how to have an employee.
I've been trying to figure out how you wire the series/parallel switch. Can you send me schematics?
Hey, this is really basic electronics and anybody wielding a soldering iron should be able to figure it out. I think you should try to work it out yourself, you might learn something!
I can't afford one of your guitars, but I found someone to build one like it for less money. Can you send me plans and a list of materials, and can I contact you if I have any questions about construction?
Um, I guess not. But good luck.
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