Custom Guitar

Just had a friend custom order a guitar from a well regarded builder (no I will never say who that is). I can tell he's kinda disappointed, also trying to see the positive cuz that's just the kind of guy he is. Problems are unwanted overtones and some sympathetic type (ghosting) on specific notes. Custom ordering is a massive expense and sometimes a massive risk (especially for the less fiscally inclined). Something to consider, you never know what the end result will be on a custom luthier built order.

No particular reason for this thread other than to say sometimes its worth a plane ticket to Seattle or coming to one of the festivals to try guitars in person. Buying from a seller that offers returns is always a good practice. I've returned a couple guitars to Michael and he was always patient with the process. For the record I've also kept a couple! Cheers folks!



  • luckylucky New
    Posts: 39

    If it’s a well-regarded luthier then they should be able to address your friend’s concerns. All the luthiers I know work to tight margins and have a genuine love of their craft so should be responsive to any flaws in their work. New guitars take a long time to break in - at least a year if not longer - and sudden changes in environment can have a big impact too.

    But yes there are upsides to buying used or factory guitars that you can try out first.

  • Posts: 79

    Did your friend have experience with guitars from the builder before ordering? I would hope so because no matter how "well-regarded" any luthier is, they all have house styles that imo one should be familiar with before putting faith into a custom build.

  • paulmcevoy75paulmcevoy75 Portland, MaineNew
    Posts: 122

    Could very well be setup issues, did the guitar travel a long distance?

  • richter4208richter4208 ✭✭✭
    Posts: 527

    no the guitar didn't travel far at all. The luthier offered to pay for any additional setup that might be needed. Very generous and fair. My friend is waiting to make sure the guitar is nice and settled before doing anything.

    In my experience certain things on guitars are hard to fix. Overtone issues and "ringing on certain notes" can be a pain. The guy is patient. I think it will work out for him. Guitar looks beautiful.

    I may update this in a few months to add some details of what he had done and if it cured the issues. Might prove interesting.

  • Posts: 4,808

    What he sees as problems might make someone else the happiest person. In different acoustic styles, and sometimes this style also, people pay big bucks for overtones (hopefully the beautiful kind). Yes, custom ordering is a gamble. I ordered my guitar based on what I heard in another guitar from the same builder. And I told him that. Guess what, my guitar didn't have that certain something I heard in the other guitar. But I liked it and in time, and to this day, came to love it.

    I always thought if you were in the market for a 5K+ guitar, a flight ticket to Seattle would be well worth it.

    Sounds like the builder wants to make the guy happy so it'll probably work out in one way or another. Most of them offer a trial period with a possibility to return too.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,337

    I always thought if you were in the market for a 5K+ guitar, a flight ticket to Seattle would be well worth it.

    It is also just a few hours car ride north to Vancouver if you want to visit Shelley Park! I'd also mention Bob Holo, but all his guitars go through Seattle anyhow! (If you are lucky enough to be there for the hour they are in stock before sold.)

  • JasonSJasonS New
    edited June 3 Posts: 56

    What exactly is the problem? Overtones are not a bad thing but can certainly be pronounced on a new guitar with new strings. It takes time for things to settle and also takes time for the player to learn how to get the most out of a guitar. Unwanted overtones and ringing can be a technique issue as well.

    Is your friend familiar with Selmer style guitars? Often people new to the genre will be a little miffed at the high action, fret buzz, string tension, etc. All things that are perfectly normal for this style of guitar but are seen as defects on other types of guitars. Fret buzz especially is something that I like (within reason) but some people can't stand it.

  • djazzydjazzy New Riccardo Mordeglia, AJL
    edited June 7 Posts: 68

    Just my 2 cents here. I ordered 3 of my 4 guitars as custom orders directly from the luthier. Through emails. I had never even tried their guitars before! And though very happy with them (4,5, & 6 years counting) there were various unexpected qualities (like resonances, sound profile, neck profile, etc.) about them I hadn't anticipated. But I easily grew into them. No biggie has been my experience. I would certainly caution others from doing what I tend to do. 😎 I'd just say, generally, that one can't expect more precision or certainty (getting exactly what one wants) than the nature of the material or endeavor (making custom guitar orders) allows.

  • RipRip olympia, washingtonNew
    Posts: 352

    I know nothing about guitar building, but when so many builders follow the same maccaferri blue print and use the same materials, why do some of these guitars sound so much better than others? It would be nice to get a guitar that sounds like the early selmer 500ish models.

  • Posts: 4,808

    Different chefs, different flavors. Small deviations amount for different results.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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