Of course, in commissioning a custom-built guitar, an individual establishes an immediate emotional attachment even before construction begins. Beyond the plans and dreams, the joys of owning a stringed instrument designed and built specifically for yourself lie in its unique voice, “playability” and visual appearance.
Each instrument reflects the nature of the materials and work methods used to create it. Therefore its voice will be unique. To some degree this can be steered by selection of specific materials (in particular wood for the top, back and sides) and individual specimens of woods that are used. It is also influenced by the design of the instrument and certain processes and techniques used during construction. When ordering a custom built instrument your choice of wood for the top, back and sides, and the body size, will be factors in determining the instrument’s voice.
“Playability“, by which I mean the highly subjective judgement of the ease and comfort with which you can express yourself using any instrument, is a singular “fitting” between the two of you. It will depend upon both your physique and the physical characteristics (shapes and dimensions) of the instrument. It will also depend upon the type of music you choose to play, and the style in which you play it. When you order a custom-built instrument, you will be able to make specific choices in relation to body shape and size, neck (profile and dimensions), fretboard (curvature), string gauge and action. These choices can be specified at the outset, and reviewed and adjusted, as far as is practicable, by workshop visits during the building of the instrument.
Last, but not necessarily least, are your choices relating to visual appearance. In addition to choosing the wood for the back and sides, you may choose the wood for the fretboard and bridge, whether or not to have a scratch plate, and if so, what size, shape and colour. You may also choose to have a specific headstock veneer, specific tuners, or a specific design of rosette around the sound hole. Then there are the inlays on the fretboard and bindings on the edges of the body. In making my early instruments, I was far too keen to hear the voice of an instrument rather than spend time on matters which are very much a matter of personal taste. Many of the instruments I have made reflect that, and are quite simple in appearance. You may choose to follow my lead, for example by adopting plain wood bindings, simple mother-of-pearl fretboard markers, and by tolerating the visibility of the back and rib joints by avoiding a central feature strip on the back or an end “graft”. On the other hand, you may choose to include such features using selected materials.
Custom-built instruments can be priced individually according to materials selection.