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Thread: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

  1. #1
    Member Desmond_G_Baggins's Avatar
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    Default Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Hey I'm starting to want to make some boutique guitars and pickups or as I call the "homemade" guitars models. If any one is familar with luthiery work / guitar building it would be appreciated. Main goal make "replicas" / tributes to some of my favorite and most iconic guitars made. Like Ace Frehley's "Budokan Les Paul" (worn and new), a Dimebag ML and various others. Along with "original" as we can be these days of models and stylings. General wonderings are how to simulate headstock repairs without atually damaging the instrument, how to proberly road wear a guitar, and also how to not get sued for copy right infringement would be nice. Among other things.

    Thanks

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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    yes, I have experience. My advice?

    don't.

    The learning curve to learn how to do binding, inlay, shaping necks, carving tops... that's steep. I know, I've been there done that.

    Simulate headstock cracks, road-wear a guitar etc etc: man, that's really next level. First you gotta learn how to make a guitar proper. I've posted in a different thread the minimum amount of tools you need to make guitars and you really rake up a huge amount of tools, material and equipment. If I knew what I know now, I wouldn't have ever ever picked up a piece of wood to make a guitar. But now I've splurged a ton of cash and now I'm commited to doing this. I've been at it for six years and still see improvements with each and every guitar I make (although the improvements are getting smaller and smaller every time).

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    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    The Chinese do it every day
    Contract a builder over there and import them for around $400

    There's no money in it
    Sued is best you can hope for

    Whatever effort you put in
    Will be a labor of love
    EHD
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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Quote Originally Posted by ehdwuld View Post
    The Chinese do it every day
    Contract a builder over there and import them for around $400

    There's no money in it
    Sued is best you can hope for

    Whatever effort you put in
    Will be a labor of love
    yeah this sums it up neatly.

    When you're being sued it means you're doing something right.

  5. #5
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Dave Locher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Building guitars from scratch, good enough quality to charge major money for, takes YEARS of hard work. You can't just decide to build high-quality guitars. It's like deciding to make and sell great paintings.
    I bet people would pay good money for a hand-painted duplicate of the Mona Lisa, and paint + canvas is cheaper than the tools and material to build a quality guitar so start painting!

  6. #6
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Ah, this is the second in the series of 'don't give up the dayjob' threads.

    Have you ever made........well, anything before???

    A guitar is fine craftmanship almost at the pinnacle of the 'artform'. Like pickup making (which you seem also to have no knowledge of the whole area) it is not something to just dive into and expect to be making a living off.....well, ever.
    As the saying goes, you can make a small fortune guitar building, by starting off with a large fortune.

    Oh, and the way to avoid being sued is not to make and sell anything that has been made before......so no replicas or tributes.



    Is there a third in this series in the amp subforum

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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    There is a whole industry of private EVH-based replicas, so many do it for fun and for money. I think there are a lot of great things to learn about your favorite players and the tools they used. This stuff isn't easy to do, and it can be 30 years before you are building something on par with other builders. Not to mention the expense of start up, and the costly mistakes every builder eventually makes.
    If you have a shop you can apprentice at, it might help. If you know a builder, get a job with him/her. Learning is no different than learning any other trade.
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    Mojo's Minions masta' c's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    For the record, I dig the guy's aspirations and I definitely think he should follow his interests. Some people were getting defensive on his behalf on the pickup thread when people with experience started to chime in.

    It's just that he's asking very generic questions about rather big topics and there's an entire internet out there with the answers he is seeking. There are tons of guitar-making videos on YouTube alone and actual forums dedicated to things like luthiery and pickup-making. I don't get the impression that he's done much homework before posting here. If he wants technical advice, there are better resources, in my opinion. And, that's the problem...this forum is all about opinions, which is probably not what he's after!


  9. #9
    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    If you have like 20 grand to spare and several years to devote, and you can deal with the life being sucked out of you through a field that used to be fun for you then do it. Otherwise don't. Do assembly or mods. Getting a job in the industry will get you to understand pro quality faster.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 11-20-2019 at 09:14 AM.
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    Sock Market Trader GuitarStv's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    It's building solid body electric guitars, not rocket science guys. None of the techniques are impossible to learn . . . some of them will require a lot of work and trial/error. I wouldn't expect to be able to get rich doing this, but as a woodworking type hobby (and maybe eventually even selling a couple guitars) what he's asking is totally doable.
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    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    It wasn't clear if his goal is to make his 1st electric guitar for his own enjoyment or manufacture quality guitars for sale. He did mention custom, boutique, and copyright.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 11-20-2019 at 02:56 PM.
    Keemsta meha
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Funny, 3-4 months ago I was reading a biography on Robert Godin. Took him couple of years but I think he succeeded :-)

  13. #13
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    I watched a biography on Paul Reed Smith
    He started out repairing guitars
    And setting them up
    EHD
    Just here surfing Guitar Pron
    RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
    SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
    Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
    Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
    Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
    Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
    GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Quote Originally Posted by ehdwuld View Post
    I watched a biography on Paul Reed Smith
    He started out repairing guitars
    And setting them up
    Yep, same with Robert Godin. I remember (I was 17 years old) going to his first repair shop, Harmonilab in Montreal. Needed to change pickups on my Ibanez Roadstar bass, ended up with 2x Dimarzio J glued together (after removing the screw holders on inner sides) with a serie/parallel/out-of-phase switch. The sound was thunderous!!!

  15. #15
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    it's interesting to read the comments here. The folks who sound positive and support the OP don't appear to work as a luthier or tech. The guys who do strongly advise against it.

    Personally, I like building and improving my craft but holy hell no that I'll be going full-production any time soon let alone make a living out of it. In fact, I'm debating with myself on a near-daily basis to simply pull the plug.

  16. #16
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    I'd have to add, if the OP is just wanting to build for himself and his own use, then by all means give it a go. Kits are a great way of starting out as you can do the sort out finishing/aging steps and know you'll have a perfectly functional instrument at the end of it.

    Most of the advice (mine included) is based on the premise of him wanting to make some form of living out of the endeavour. Many of us have assumed that this was the intent, although on a re-read it seems like many of us have perhaps taken a 'leap of assumption'.......based on some of the musings like the being sued bit.

  17. #17
    A Ficus ehdwuld's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    I have toyed with the idea as well
    I have done much of what my first post said

    Import the finished husk
    Modify the way I want
    And play them

    For me this skips the wood working and finishing
    The binding
    The layout of frets and scale length
    The placement of the bridge
    Shape of the neck
    Etc

    I make my requirements to a foreign builder

    And then modify what he sends me

    Mine are for my own use

    I sometimes think I'll order a dozen husks
    And start selling them online

    Then I realize the folly of this
    After the body , which I can order assembled from a maker
    For less than the price of the materials locally
    Then the expense of premium electronics and hardware
    Just initial costs are more than I can expect to recoup in a crowded
    Budget market

    And without some celebrity endorsement
    No matter what your view of the unknown brand
    Without some marketing, you are a budget brand until you build a reputation
    This may take a while

    In the mean time you have to move product in order to build a reputation

    At cost or at a loss, in order to get them in the hands of players to rave about them
    EHD
    Just here surfing Guitar Pron
    RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
    SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
    Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
    Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
    Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
    Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
    GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

  18. #18
    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Like others, I'm not totally clear on what your goals are. But in any case, I would recommend getting your feet wet before jumping in head first.

    Buy a kit. Do some modification of the shape. Learn about the basic electronics involved and maybe modify that...slightly (like pickup splits). Then learn about finishing your guitar...staining and bursting techniques, materials, etc.

    There is no need to spend a lot of money on equipment at first. Just find out if this is REALLY what you want to get into. If you decide that you DO want to do this, expect to spend thousands of dollars on some very basic tools and equipment and eventually tens of thousands of dollars on more and better equipment. Expect to spend several years just learning how to do it from your own experience and mistakes. And if you are good, have a lot of artistic and woodworking talent, are enthusiastic enough to devote hundreds of hours of your time each year, and sacrifice some relationships in the process, then in 5-10 years you may be able to actually sell one of your guitars.

    Otherwise, think of guitar building as an expensive but rewarding hobby.

    PS: don't worry about EVER being sued...it's not gonna happen.
    Last edited by GuitarDoc; 11-22-2019 at 07:04 AM.
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  19. #19
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    Kits are a great way to get a feel for it. I did that with warmth parts before I started to do all the woodwork myself. I am doing all the woodwork myself not because it is cheaper; it is not. I simply enjoy this stage of the build the most.

  20. #20
    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Wanting To Start Building Custom Guitars Need Help

    ^ And you get complete choice concerning all creative aspects.

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