#1
Apparently you can mention the names of Gibson, Fender, etc., but once you mention the name of a person you hired to build you a guitar it's considered 'advertising' (even when you're not affiliated with the individual in any manner). That's OK... I won't mention his last name or business. Part I is under 'Hiring a Personal Luthier' if you care to search it out.

PART II

The project shifted to a more concrete gear with a verbal update on July 2nd, 2011, when Stephen and I discussed several issues. The first aspect was to establish all the hardware to be used, including pickups and bridge type. He specializes in developing his own single-coil pickups, and he explained how these are crafted – hand-wound to maintain his quality of standards and to match the sounds forged in his imagination. For my guitar, however, he plans on using humbuckers. At this point I’m uncertain of the neck pickup, but the bridge pickup will be the DiMarzio Mojo as it produces the right tone relative to my taste and desired tone, but also Stephen’s musical background and understanding of what I am looking for.

A Schaller tremolo will be mounted in a routed slot, and this will provide a low profile to the picking area, similar to many Ibanez and Strat models. A top flat-mount bridge system was considered, but based on the guitar(s) I tend to select in my daily playing, that option did not win the day. As well, Stephen’s guitars have the reputation of holding its tuning, even when the axe wielder is a whammy kamikaze, and so I’m looking forward to testing those waters. The shape of the headstock also was confirmed and agreed upon, and although I had the opportunity to select or design any shape, I opted for his company's trademark design.

We also addressed the body’s finish once again, as how this looks in the end can make or break how someone envisions his or her custom guitar. Stephen explained how color especially can be an issue with many buyers who forward a chip or color sample, and then when he sends a photo back via email to show the end product of the painted body it does not always reflect, necessarily, the original sample. As most people know, and particularly those involved in the digital graphics field, every computer monitor has its slight nuances in regard to tint or hue reproduction insofar as true representation or accuracy is concerned, but when a sample is brought to a paint shop, rest assured it is a dead-on match or so close you cannot tell the difference. Consequently, there is some give and take when it comes to communicating via the Internet with photo images, but Stephen’s reputation made it obvious that he had no complaints with the end product and his customers’ satisfaction.

My guitar will not have a paint coating, however, but a clear matt finish to show the natural Swamp Ash grain. I have several painted guitars, but none that is ‘au natural.’ Stephen uses Behlen’s nitro cellulose spray lacquer, which he believes generates the best results, in a very hard and solid material once cured that will last a long time and age very well. However, the important thing about this coating is that the wood is allowed to age much better than the thick varnishes and enamels most companies use. In effect, wood takes on different sound characteristics via aging, which affects and improves an instrument’s timbre and tone qualities – which also can affect the emotive aspect of one’s playing.

Now, to give this project more life, Stephen forwarded me a photo of the neck materials, which arrived only days ago, including the blank maple neck that will be shaped via tools and hand, 6105 fret wire, truss-rod, and the rosewood fingerboard. This will be a bolt-on neck, and although some writhe at the thought of bolt-ons, it is because two-piece guitars typically do not have the sustain qualities of many neck-through-body designs. This has not been an issue for Stephen as the tightness and precision melding of the neck and body results in sustain that matches or rivals the best guitars available. The hand-crafted precision is far different than what can be expected in mass-production factories; and his attention to detail and precision fit is so extreme that he routes and fits the pickups and bridge only after the neck is attached to the body.
Seeing the neck in the ‘raw’ does make the experience more authentic, and around the 7th of July it becomes more a reality when he receives a grade-A piece of swamp ash to make the 1-piece body. Many inexpensive guitars (and even some more expensive models) will consist of multiple pieces of wood (whether side-by-side or layered), but this baby will be one solid piece.

My next consideration will be the type of selector switching I would like. Stephen has his own ideas, but I’ll be putting in my two cents to see which option is best, or if we come up with a hybrid solution.
Attachments:
BDJ-Z11 Neck Materials2.jpg
#2
Quote by logicbdj
Apparently you can mention the names of Gibson, Fender, etc., but once you mention the name of a person you hired to build you a guitar it's considered 'advertising' (even when you're not affiliated with the individual in any manner). That's OK... I won't mention his last name or business. Part I is under 'Hiring a Personal Luthier' if you care to search it out.

PART II

The project shifted to a more concrete gear with a verbal update on July 2nd, 2011, when Stephen and I discussed several issues. The first aspect was to establish all the hardware to be used, including pickups and bridge type. He specializes in developing his own single-coil pickups, and he explained how these are crafted – hand-wound to maintain his quality of standards and to match the sounds forged in his imagination. For my guitar, however, he plans on using humbuckers. At this point I’m uncertain of the neck pickup, but the bridge pickup will be the DiMarzio Mojo as it produces the right tone relative to my taste and desired tone, but also Stephen’s musical background and understanding of what I am looking for.

A Schaller tremolo will be mounted in a routed slot, and this will provide a low profile to the picking area, similar to many Ibanez and Strat models. A top flat-mount bridge system was considered, but based on the guitar(s) I tend to select in my daily playing, that option did not win the day. As well, Stephen’s guitars have the reputation of holding its tuning, even when the axe wielder is a whammy kamikaze, and so I’m looking forward to testing those waters. The shape of the headstock also was confirmed and agreed upon, and although I had the opportunity to select or design any shape, I opted for his company's trademark design.

We also addressed the body’s finish once again, as how this looks in the end can make or break how someone envisions his or her custom guitar. Stephen explained how color especially can be an issue with many buyers who forward a chip or color sample, and then when he sends a photo back via email to show the end product of the painted body it does not always reflect, necessarily, the original sample. As most people know, and particularly those involved in the digital graphics field, every computer monitor has its slight nuances in regard to tint or hue reproduction insofar as true representation or accuracy is concerned, but when a sample is brought to a paint shop, rest assured it is a dead-on match or so close you cannot tell the difference. Consequently, there is some give and take when it comes to communicating via the Internet with photo images, but Stephen’s reputation made it obvious that he had no complaints with the end product and his customers’ satisfaction.

My guitar will not have a paint coating, however, but a clear matt finish to show the natural Swamp Ash grain. I have several painted guitars, but none that is ‘au natural.’ Stephen uses Behlen’s nitro cellulose spray lacquer, which he believes generates the best results, in a very hard and solid material once cured that will last a long time and age very well. However, the important thing about this coating is that the wood is allowed to age much better than the thick varnishes and enamels most companies use. In effect, wood takes on different sound characteristics via aging, which affects and improves an instrument’s timbre and tone qualities – which also can affect the emotive aspect of one’s playing.

Now, to give this project more life, Stephen forwarded me a photo of the neck materials, which arrived only days ago, including the blank maple neck that will be shaped via tools and hand, 6105 fret wire, truss-rod, and the rosewood fingerboard. This will be a bolt-on neck, and although some writhe at the thought of bolt-ons, it is because two-piece guitars typically do not have the sustain qualities of many neck-through-body designs. This has not been an issue for Stephen as the tightness and precision melding of the neck and body results in sustain that matches or rivals the best guitars available. The hand-crafted precision is far different than what can be expected in mass-production factories; and his attention to detail and precision fit is so extreme that he routes and fits the pickups and bridge only after the neck is attached to the body.
Seeing the neck in the ‘raw’ does make the experience more authentic, and around the 7th of July it becomes more a reality when he receives a grade-A piece of swamp ash to make the 1-piece body. Many inexpensive guitars (and even some more expensive models) will consist of multiple pieces of wood (whether side-by-side or layered), but this baby will be one solid piece.

My next consideration will be the type of selector switching I would like. Stephen has his own ideas, but I’ll be putting in my two cents to see which option is best, or if we come up with a hybrid solution.



That bit about bolt-ons not having the same sustain qualities as thru-necks; the difference is so slight that you wouldn't actually notice by ear, and it's the other way round Bolt-ons have been shown to have more sustain so if you want better "sustain qualities" then you've made the right choice... And if your luthier makes a good job at that snug fitting neck pocket/heel join combination then all the better. Hope it all turns out good for you
Last edited by lostcreation333 at Jul 4, 2011,
#3
I found it to be the opposite, although it depends on a few things... the wood, but also the snugness of the neck fastened onto the body. If the precision isn't there, I noticed better sustain with a neck through body. However that could be my experience and when comparing mediocre guitars. Once you get up in quality, there really isn't much difference.
#4
i thought it was interesting that you couldnt mention the luthiers name, when there are luthiers mentioned all over the forums, and places like stewmac and warmoth are so heavily advertised through builds and people buying and talking about it...
but im not a mod, so i just do what im told.. i think you should be able to mention who the luthier is, to be consitent with the rest of the site here.
#5
The rules are a bit hypocritical really, I mean there are users on the forum who document their work and openly declare that they sell their work, whether it be via their own sites, on a commission basis or through eBay.

However, at the end of the day, the owners of UG can potentially make money from any form of advertising, so they will not allow every Tom, Dick and Harry from freely advertising on the forums. Perhaps everyone on here, along with users on all the other Guitar Building related forums, should form a coop in the form of a free-for-all guitar building information/advertising/showcasing forum. Users, whether pro or amateur can come on this forum, ask for help and advice, show off their work and advertise the fact that they can build a guitar for you

Sorry to hijack this thread. It just gets to me when someone sets up a public place like this (GB&C), yet really, we're all restricted on what we can and can't say by those big cats at the top!

Out.
Last edited by lostcreation333 at Jul 5, 2011,
#6
Well, they do own the site, and we are provided the privilege of being here if we so choose to. What they may not understand is that if a luthier gets some attention on this site, as a result of this site, then maybe he WILL advertise. But to blackball his name immediately I'm sure puts a bad taste in his mouth. I'm not sure, as I did not ask him, but my two cents.
#7
Kinda like Project Guitar? The problem with sites like that is that it turns into an elitist advertising fest. UG is much better for amateurs and hobbyists.
#8
People have asked why I chose to have Stephen to design my guitar, a very personal and individualized endeavour, as opposed to other luthiers. Two things typically are considered among customers, including reputation and price.

After 25 years of building custom guitars, I could not find any negative comments on the Internet, and there was plenty of praise. Of course other luthiers have good reputations, and particularly those veterans of two or more decades crafting instruments. Just as important, however, Stephen has played guitar even longer and he know what it’s like to play a quality guitar. On that note, we also happen to have similar tastes in playing styles and guitar tones. I believe all these points when combined help make for the right relationship.

Stephen’s pricing really is an aspect that sealed the deal. This man charges only enough to cover his time and materials, not looking for added profit. Other guitar developers of this standard would charge twice as much and often more, but as Stephen views it, “why charge $4-5k for someone to put in a showcase, afraid to take it on the road, for a friend to play, or any other nervous hesitation?” He achieves far more pride to see his instruments used and producing music than to make more money and never to see or hear his axes played.

We covered a few things over the past week, one being the switching system. Based on my desires, Stephen recommended a 5-way lever switch:

1. Bridge Series Humbucker
2. Bridge Single coil tap (your choice of pole)
3. Bridge + Neck Humbucker (option of blending & coil tap via push pull pot)
4. Neck single coil tap (same – you chose pole)
5. Neck series Humbucker

Further, he can make both tone controls push pull so that I have further options; and there are some circuits that will allow that same effect by turning the pot past center. This limits the tone controls but opens up a lot of other possibilities. I’m comfortable either way, as once I get accustomed to a guitar I have no problem work with its nuances, and so I’m leaving that up to Stephen’s professionalism.

By July 10th, things were really taking shape. He received his single piece of Southern Swamp Ash and shortly after started working on the shape. He set the neck pocket angle at approximately 2-degrees and the bridge is set for a 25.5” scale with a slight recess. At the current rate of development, Stephen is looking at late August or early September for delivery.
Attachments:
NeckPocket Layout.jpg
time to cut.jpg
Bridge Layout.jpg
#9
A week later and Stephen has completed the routing, shaping and initial contouring. It is at this point that he attaches the neck and ‘handles’ it for a bit... to get a sense to see if more material needs to be removed in order to give it the feel he’s looking for on the body. Sometime next week he will be wrapping up on the neck details, to the point whereby he can fit it to the body more precisely in order to finish the body contouring at the neck joint; this is where his neck-body fit is better than most and why his guitars have a reputation for great sustain.

Stephen also has sourced out most of the hardware materials, based on our past communications, and he’ll be ordering most of it shortly. In regard to pickups, we have decided on the DiMarzio Mo’ Joe split humbucker for the neck position, the same pickup in my Ibanez JS2400, the model currently used by Joe Satriani and his Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards tour. I really like this pickup, and its choice was obvious to me.
I was uncertain about the neck pickup, however, wanting something that was creamy, but with a bit more bite and definite clarity in the low end than what I’ve been hearing from other guitars. A split humbucker was of interest, so that I could have more tonal options. Stephen recommended the DiMarzio PAF Pro, which he feels will give me a balanced tone and based on his success with this pickup in the past. The DiMarzio website provided further information on the pickup and its characteristics sold me on giving it a try:

“The PAF Pro® was created when chops-intensive playing was first starting to happen, and high-gain amps and rack systems were becoming popular. A pickup was needed that combined a lot of presence and ‘cut’ with an open-sounding PAF® vibe. The transparency of its sound lets the PAF Pro® slice through heavy processing, where darker-sounding pickups get lost in the mud of the effects chain. Low notes have both snap and chunk, and there is a spike in the mid-range that gives the pickup a subtle ‘aw’ vowel sound, like a wah-wah pedal stopped in the middle. Treble response is tweaked to produce highs that stand out without getting brittle.”

Now, there is a slight halt in the guitar building process as I’m having a specialized E-Tuner by Shadow-Electronics shipped to Stephen for installation. Here is a little background on the E-Tuner:

“An automatic chromatic tuner in a humbucker frame that is fast, inconspicuous, accurate and always there when you need it. No need to look over at tuning devices or hitting foot switches to silent your guitar. Even as you play, you can fine-tune the instrument with just one inconspicuous press of a button... and just like that, you’re done! Close at hand and within view at all times, it allows you to transform any humbucker electric guitar into an instrument with accurate onboard tuning that offers all conceivable alternate tunings, including open tunings. Its multi-colored LEDs are unfailingly easy to read, even in bright surroundings. It does not affect a guitar’s essential sound, nor are there any adjustments alterations made to the pickup electronics.”

There is no woodworking required when installing the E-Tuner with most (mass produced) guitars, but Stephen is hand-crafting a very low profile guitar with the pickups recessed accordingly. Now with this new tuning device surrounding the bridge pickup, he needs to fit a humbucker ring around the neck pickup for cosmetic/aesthetic purposes and he must then fine-tune the routing as need be – as opposed to the original wood-mount he had planned for the pickups to accommodate the contour I wanted for the neck intially (customers are always changing their minds throughout the life of a project, and luthiers must have a lot of patience!). He will be installing the ‘tremolo’ version of the E-Tuner pickup ring as it is only a few millimetres high and is designed for low-profile guitars. Black rings will be used to match the pickup color (black), and Stephen will work with this device to make sure it remains functional and the pickups unobtrusive – a truly one-of-a-kind guitar during every step of the process.
Attachments:
Body4.jpg
Body6.jpg
#10
that's a real nice piece of wood he got for you.

as for the previous discussion mentioned above concerning the issue of sustain...

are you sure you're not talking about the difference between a set neck and a bolt on?

a neck through will absolutely sustain differently then either of the other two designs...just by virtue of the fact that the neck is the body.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#11
I'm referring more to the neck through design. I don't think many electric guitars use the set neck method anyway... more common with acoustics. I could be wrong on that, I just don't see it often or at all (don't recall actually). I'm not sure if I would want my electric to have a set neck design (glued in), due to possible repairs or other situations requiring the neck to be removed. Yes, that is a nice piece of wood. He sources out quite nicely... looking for high-grade components and wood. And when you want some scalloping or other dips and curves, he does a lot of it by hand (hammer and chisel).
#12
Quote by logicbdj
I'm referring more to the neck through design. I don't think many electric guitars use the set neck method anyway... more common with acoustics. I could be wrong on that, I just don't see it often or at all (don't recall actually). I'm not sure if I would want my electric to have a set neck design (glued in), due to possible repairs or other situations requiring the neck to be removed. Yes, that is a nice piece of wood. He sources out quite nicely... looking for high-grade components and wood. And when you want some scalloping or other dips and curves, he does a lot of it by hand (hammer and chisel).


well gibson's use a set neck and so does prs.

a neck through would be neck running the entire way from the tailpin to the headstock.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#13
Quote by logicbdj
I'm referring more to the neck through design. I don't think many electric guitars use the set neck method anyway... more common with acoustics. I could be wrong on that, I just don't see it often or at all (don't recall actually). I'm not sure if I would want my electric to have a set neck design (glued in), due to possible repairs or other situations requiring the neck to be removed. Yes, that is a nice piece of wood. He sources out quite nicely... looking for high-grade components and wood. And when you want some scalloping or other dips and curves, he does a lot of it by hand (hammer and chisel).


Most repairs I've ever done have not required me removing the neck.... actually, all of them have not required me to take the neck off to fix the guitar - if you're careful with the guitar and you're not going to drop it, you shouldnt have any issues requiring you to remove it.

And with the exception of Fender guitars, many of the best selling and most popular electric guitar designs use set necks. Acoustics HAVE to have set necks... there isnt enough wood to bolt the neck to in the first place. Every Gibson guitar you've ever seen, every PRS guitar you've ever seen likely have set necks; Dean, Carvin, Suhr, upper range Epiphones, Gretsch all have set neck guitars in their lineup.
Ball Custom Mark I

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#14
I stand corrected. Heck, I even have a Gibson Les Paul, lol. All my other guitars (except a Greg Bennett) is bolt on, including some high end Ibanez models. But in regard to the sustain aspect, I was making reference to the neck-through design. Thanks.
#16
Quote by Doonan


Whaaaaaaaaaaat.

I stand corrected.
But thats still not the norm
Ball Custom Mark I

Korg Pitchblack > Dunlop Crybaby wah > mODDball audio Green Bastard > Marshall GV2 Guv'nor Plus > EHX Holy Stain > MXR Phase 90 > MXR Carbon Copy

Jet City JCA20h
Epiphone Valve Jr.
Blackstar HTV212
#19
In about four weeks my creation (thanks to Stephen) will be making its journey from Florida to Ontario, Canada. Recently Stephen sanded the body and applied the first coat of sealer to the wood, which he lets dry for two days before sanding and re-sealing. This is a time-consuming process since it will be a clear finish, which means being unable to use wood filler to seal the body or to cover any imperfections in the wood. “This process requires time and patience to get it right, but we’re good on the schedule anyway, and so no problems in that regard,” he stated.

The neck is 50% complete, including the neck contour and final fitting, and Stephen will be inserting the frets and dot inlays this week. He applied one coat of lacquer to the entire neck, and from this point he will apply the ID on the back of the headstock (his company logo and serial number of the guitar). Once done Stephen then will apply two more coats of lacquer then wet sand to a nice semi-gloss finish.

Speaking of logos, Stephen has the capability to create a water-slide of any computer graphic, and then transfer it onto the guitar. Once he applies top lacquer the logo remains embedded forever. Because this guitar is one-of-a-kind, and because it is my signature axe, I had Stephen create a logo that will be placed on the body of the guitar, along the top horn, reading BDJ Signature Guitar (enclosed in a circle). Talk about custom finishing touches!

The frets are 6130 Low/Jumbo Nickel Frets - .036” X .106”. I wanted something lower to the fretboard as this will give me extremely low action and “almost endless fret life,” thanks to Stephen’s recommendation. He also noted that “the additional width of the frets gives more material at the crown,” which means longer fret life and longer between re-crowning.

The Schaller Bridge and Upgrade Block arrived last week as well. We picked the bridge type since we both feel they are the best developed relative to my needs, but I was not aware of the ‘upgrade block.’ Stephen explained: “I do the upgrade not only because of the additional sustain these things provide, but due to the fact that my bodies are routed in such a way that a standard 42mm block would protrude from the back of the guitar by about 5mm. This is not acceptable so I reduce the length of the block while increasing the mass, thus adding mass and sustain.” The blocks are milled from single blocks of AAAA Bell Brass and really ring when installed as a tremolo block, and Stephen highly recommends the upgrade to any Floyd Rose or Schaller tremolo. Apparently those blocks are “incredible,” and so I cannot wait to try out this guitar!

The other hardware, including tuners, has been ordered and is on its way. About the only things left are the pickup installation (waiting on the Shadow Electronics’ E-Tuner mechanism) and the curing assembly process, which Stephen describes as “boring and uneventful, like watching paint dry.” As the finish cures, he’ll be completing the hardware acquisitions and will document them for me as well.

A few other finishing touches include Dunlop Strap-Locks and rosewood volume/tone knobs. I decided on adding wood knobs since the guitar will have a natural finish and I thought wood knobs would add to the ‘customized’ appearance. To provide contrast in the woods (the body is a light swamp ash), I’m matching the knobs to the rosewood fretboard. These need to be the screw-on type so they can be fastened and sealed to prevent falling off. Stephen recommended the screw-ons since the press-on types can fall off due to wood expanding in climates that see extreme weather changes (from cold/snow to hot/humid), which expansion usually occurs over the initial 6-8 month period. Besides, my electronics involve a push-pull potentiometer system and it sometimes doesn’t take much for knobs to pop off at the most inopportune times.
Attachments:
rosewoodknobs.jpg
BDJlogo.jpg
#21
Why this thread finish here? I want to see that guitar finished.
Quote by Våd Hamster
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#22
I'm awaiting new photos and for him to actually finish... this should be on-going for another 2-3 weeks.
#23
It feels like a long road, but not really. When you’re anxious to have a unique creation cradle your hands, something that is part of you and has come from your vision, every extra day seems too long. And there is something about a guitar that is so personal, likely because it is an emotional branch of your psyche. As a musician and a luthier, Stephen feels no different, stating: “I really enjoy taking a piece of wood and turning it into a musical instrument. Every guitar is a bit different and I get a real charge out of my customers’ excitement. These are like my children and I love each and every one of them. Every guitar is special to me and I believe it will be special to each person.” I suppose you could say I’m adopting the ‘BDJ Signature Guitar,’ from the ‘father’ who created it. And to know that a luthier feels this way, as opposed to ‘just making another guitar,’ speaks volumes.

Stephen informed me that he is pretty much done, and is simply putting it together. The electronics configuration was confirmed, and I requested as many possibilities in my tonal palette, thus resulting in 5-way switch configuration and pull-pots with the neck pickup being ‘north’ and bridge pickup being ‘south’ on the switch selector. Through the setup, I can have all of the bridge or all of the neck or both; and I can have just one coil from one or the other, or both; and I can have opposite splits between neck and bridge coils! The pull-pots are independent from the volume since using the volume pot for switching, as Stephen explained, increases the potential signal drain at that point due to grounding systems.

In regard to putting together the electronics, Stephen did make a last second professional alteration with the pickup configuration, opting for the PAF Joe for the neck pickup to better match the tone of the Mo’ Joe bridge pickup. This was a good move as the two were developed to ‘sing’ together and the overall tone should be superior. The following is a write-up on the PAF Joe from the DiMarzio website:

“Joe (Satriani) wanted a neck position humbucker that combined the best qualities of the DiMarzio PAF Pro with those of a late '50s Gibson humbucker. Joe described this tone as being ‘tubular.’ Through the use of Virtual Vintage technology, clear-sounding low frequencies are blended with warm-sounding mids and high frequencies, which makes the PAF Joe equally good for chords and single notes. It was first used by Joe throughout the 2003 G3 tour. Recommended for all positions, solid, semi-solid and hollowbody electric guitars.

“Tech Talk: What does ‘tubular’ mean? In this case, it means making low notes ‘speak’ more clearly while giving high notes a rounder voicing. This accomplishes 2 goals: chords have better definition, and single notes at higher fret positions remain warm sounding rather than getting thinner. The PAF Joe has slightly less power than the PAF Pro does.”

And there’s a bit more to the electronics story. Stephen also ordered in a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) from www.snagg.com, which is optional for potential customers, and he does this as an added service for those who request it. I will not say where this micro-chip is installed (our little secret), but this device is designed for musical instruments – for purposes of theft deterrence and asset recovery, in the event that it is stolen. This may not sound like a big deal to some people, but when you have a unique, one-of-a-kind instrument hand-made, the last thing you want is someone lifting it. Moreover, check out some ‘gear’ sites, or Vintage Guitar magazine, and there you will find sections on stolen gear and owners looking to retrieve rare or expensive instruments.

As well, in the past few days Stephen worked on the neck and body finish, and all logos have been installed on the neck and body. At this juncture, he starts to build up the finish and for it to cure for a few days. We confirmed that I would have a matte finish by way of a semi-gloss clear coat, as opposed to a high gloss luster. High polish or gloss is very attractive, but I chose the matte for a few reasons: 1) it looks more natural with a ‘natural’ wood grain concept; and 2) there is less polishing/cleaning upkeep to keep it looking shiny and mint.

Final assembly will be later this week and the guitar should ship around mid August, just a bit ahead of schedule (you don’t hear that from a luthier often!). Once cured and all together, Stephen will get to experience the guitar first, and get to know its personality as he strums the first chord and bends the first note. In fact, he can tell how a guitar will resonate due to the drone it produces during the wet sanding operation. He believes I have a “really active piece of wood” (a solid piece of swamp ash) and that I will enjoy the guitar with just a bit of gain required. I own an Ibanez JS2400 (basswood body), and I’m very curious to make a comparison between the two guitars.

Stephen is so meticulous, particularly as we hone in on the final steps, that he even asked what strings I wanted installed and if I was fond of any particular brand. I do prefer DR Strings, although I’ve had good success with other brands – I was not fussy in this regard. But what impressed me were his sentiments: “I hope this has gone pretty much the way you expected and you have had a pleasant experience so far.” This should not be underestimated since Stephen’s goal was not just to earn work, but to work with the customer and enjoy the creative journey together. Now, to welcome my baby home and review the finished product!
#24
UPDATE: Today Stephen forwarded a video showing the guitar in a near finished state (without electronics), and to demonstrate something – how tight a fit the neck is to the body. Initially the neck and body were separate. He then pushed the neck gently into the body... took the neck by around the headstock... then lifted the guitar as body hung on effortlessly. The super-tight fit not only was impressive, but it was gratifying to see the guitar as it stood at this juncture, and it’s looking better than I thought it would. ‘Anxious’ does not begin to describe how I feel about this guitar.
#25
Here is a photo in a near completed state... some wiring and knobs, etc., to be attached. One solid piece of swamp ash with a semi-gloss finish.
Attachments:
NearlyComplete.jpg
#26
This is looking awesome, congrats dude. You must be real eager to have it in your own hands!
#27
it looks great, I really want to see it finished!
Quote by Våd Hamster
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do you wanna hear a little piano composition I have just made?, I promise it don't totally sucks, you can hear it on my profile, any feedback would be really appreciated -C4C
#28
I haven't been reading this, except for the introduction, and I think that deserves a big damn medal, honestly. The hipocrisy is even worse over at SS where you basically can't even post a thread in the regular build section if you've ever accepted money for any sort of guitar technicality.
#30
A sound file below... I call this tune Modern Vintage based on the custom guitar I recently had built (wood grain body has that vintage look, whereas the electronics and pickups are more modern).

The sound is reminiscent of Pink Floyd Animals, to my ear, with a bit of tape echo (Digitech TimeBender), SolidGoldFx's SuperDrive through a clean Egnater Rebel-30 amp.

http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/logicbdj/music/all/play1042446
#31
How do you like it, you wanna do a short review?

It's a crazy nice guitar.
#32
The headstock was of Stephen’s trademark design, which was fine by me, as I did not have any particular preference to its design. It houses quality Gotoh tuners, which reputation is well known in the music industry. The tuner set Stephen applied to this guitar is extremely high in quality, and you can feel the solid, smooth tension of the keys when tuning. The headstock also features a low-friction string tree to reduce resistance and to improve tuning stability, which may not be necessary when dealing with a locking-nut system, but which does add that extra dimension in security and even appearance.

The maple neck has FSC rosewood from Honduras for the fretboard and includes dot inlays both on the fretboard and on its edge. I requested frets a bit flatter or smaller than on my Ibanez (steering away from the ‘jumbo fret’ design), which reduces finger strain while playing, and this feature was included. The truss rod is accessible via the heel of the neck, but as Stephen puts it: “In my experience, if the neck is made correctly, it should never warp.” THIS IS THE FINEST NECK I HAVE PLAYED!

There are two aspects that make this neck very special. One, the action is crazy low, lower than my Ibanez, and without any fret buzz, which makes legato type playing seem effortless. Two, this is by far the thinnest neck I have used, which may be a bit ‘crampy’ for someone with large hands, but I do have smallish hands and when this was relayed to Stephen he did promise me a ‘wizard’ neck... and he delivered. Usually musicians will classify necks as having a thicker ‘U’ shape or a thinner ‘C’ shape (less curving and thickness), whereas this guitar has what is best described as an elongated ‘C’ shape... stretched out or flattened and only about 1.6 cm (0.63 inches) thick! There is extreme comfort in this neck design that feels as though it flows across the palm rather than filling it up, as though cupping it.

The body is a single piece FSC Swamp-Ash from a special farm in Louisiana. As per my choice, Stephen shaped it similar to the MusicMan EVH guitar, which shape I found attractive upon first seeing it (a cool looking Telecaster in my eyes). Although two-dimensional looking from the front, the body has a sexy flow and curve to it when viewed from the side (see below), contoured particularly where the body and picking arm make contact, for improved comfort and fit. As well, Stephen did an excellent job on the neck heal, well rounded and contoured for ease of playing on the highest fret.

Finished with low VOC nitrocellulose variety semi-gloss, the natural wood grain accentuates the custom make in that one can tell the guitar was hand-crafted and not a stock piece from a music shop. Moreover, the top of the body boasts a circular emblem I had Stephen make that reads BDJ 001 Signature Guitar – (see below) my initials with a 001 serial number (this also was placed on the back of the headstock). And somewhere in the body – I’m not saying where – at no extra charge, Stephen implanted a microchip that enables pawn shops and police to ascertain its true ownership if stolen and potentially sold.

My choice of bridge pickup was the DiMarzio Mo’ Joe (as per Joe Satriani, whose tone I really like), chosen for its singing quality and creaminess. I wasn’t sure as to the neck pickup, but I knew I wanted something with more clarity than what I have on my Ibanez and many of my other guitars. Stephen recommended the DiMarzio PAF Joe, another Satriani designed pickup that compliments the Mo’ Joe. This was a wise decision as the tone derived from this pickup is very clear and not too dark. It still produces warm tones, ideal for emulating some David Gilmour, but with each note being unmistakably defined without coming across overly harsh. However, I suspect the solid ash body has something to do with that as well.

A product added to the bridge pickup is the E-Tuner by Shadow Electronics, a humbucker pickup ring only a few millimetres high and integrated into the pickup’s circuitry. Along its upper edge of the ring is a small on/off button and a series of LED lights that enables you to tune the guitar with ease as it shows whether you are flat or sharp, and what note/string is being played/tuned.

It should be noted that Stephen is a true problem-solver when it came to the E-Tuner. Prior to me shipping him this device, the guitar body was already developed and originally was designed as a very low profile model with no pickup rings. Stephen was able to restructure the guitar’s body to accommodate the new E-Tuner ring (and add a ring for the neck humbucker) while keeping the string action very low.

The electronics and switching system involves a master volume and two tone controls (one for each pickup), all three of which have rosewood knobs and a mother-of-pearl dot inlay to match the fretboard. Smooth, yet firm, you can tell the quality of the pots as you turn the knobs. The five-way pickup selector switch allows the following possibilities:

1. Bridge Series Full Humbucker
2. Bridge (South Coil Tapped) + Neck (South Coil Tapped) in series / reverse phased
3. Bridge + Neck Humbucker
4. Bridge (South Coil Tapped) + Neck (North Coil Tapped) in series / in phase
5. Neck Series Humbucker

Stephen did an excellent job with the electronics and there is an incredibly large array of tones possible with this setup. The bridge pickup reacts as I suspect it should, with a nice bite, but without sounding shrill. I’m very happy with the neck humbucker as it rings clear and true no matter how low a note I play and whether the tone knob is turned all the way toward bass. The most impressive aspect, however, is how Stephen setup the electronics. With most tone pots you hear a difference as you move from treble to bass, but on this guitar the audible qualities are much more pronounced and differentiated. It’s not the ‘same tone, but a little darker or brighter;’ rather, there emerge distinct sonic attributes that make this guitar truly diverse. Stephen did warn me about this benefit!

The Schaller locking bridge system is of equal quality to the Edge system in my Ibanez. However, Stephen took this to the next level with a block of AAAA bell brass that connects the springs to the trem bridge. Together with the solid ash body, this guitar is highly sensitive while producing a very clear and attacking tone. I must say that it requires a guitarist to sharpen his or her chops since any mistakes are obvious and audible. I think I need to go practice!

Overall Impression
Featured in guitar magazines, this one-man-band truly is gifted as he pours everything into each creation – and he skimps on nothing. From the general construction to the electronics, everything is high grade and solid. He supplies guitars to the FernStock music festival and is respected enough to be the official sponsor for a European international tour through Ferocious Music. As important, from a customer’s perspective, he sends regular updates of photos and with options from which to choose (in the event that not every aspect is accounted for in the original ‘wish list&rsquo. I suspect I received at least 25 e-mails and a dozen photos of the process to ensure everything was on par and on schedule.

In regard to my specific guitar, I believe what makes an axe a go-to axe is two-fold: quality of play with a wide-ranging palette of possible sounds. Will this be the only guitar I will use? No, not at all... for example, I have a Reverend that is so dark and fat sounding that it seems appropriate for certain genres of music, and when I compose in that genre it will be the chosen one. But relative to my playing style, it will be played far more than the other guitars in my collection. Mission accomplished, Stephen!
#33
This guitar was a pretty straight forward project from start to finish. My Client (logicbdj) was an exemplary customer and was a pleasure to work with. The dynamics of this project kept me on the ball, the addition of the eTuner was a bit tricky since the design was complete and the body done. Other than that all went very well and on schedule. Actually delivered the guitar a week early (5 weeks from initial order / deposit to arrival in the proud new owners hands).

My impression of the guitar is this is an extremely fast playing guitar. I really like the way the neck feels. One of the thinnest necks I've ever made for a full scale guitar. My Client made a reference to the Wizard style and it just so happened I had one in the shop from another project (thanks Allen) so I was able to record the dimensions, make some minor adjustments and then hand shave it to perfection.

The tone and crispness of this guitar are a direct result of the wood combination. I really love this combination on this style guitar. Swamp Ash Body, Maple Neck with Rosewood Fingerboard. There were absolutely no surprises here as all of my guitars have what my clients describe as "unbelievable crisp, clear, cutting touch sensitive response and tone that will cut thru any mix"

The addition of the brass block is a standard upgrade I perform. For such a small amount of $$$, the benefits are astounding. Not for everyone though. By increasing the mass at the bridge, the guitar can tend to become ultra sensitive depending upon the pickup / electronics config-

Glad my customer is enjoying his guitar and has had a pleasant experience. That is what is the most important to me.
#34
Hi Stephen! Yes, that neck is so friggin' thin and beautiful in the hands... the best I have felt, and I have a Satriani Ibanez JS2400 with a prestige neck. This is superior. The guitar is very sensitive, but it forces you to practice more, lol. There's no getting away with poor technique. For the price I can't imagine why a person would not get a custom guitar made. I know some others out there charge $3k or more, and I've seen 7k for a guitar, but I find that cost is to cover details in finish and to make it look pretty, but it doesn't play any better. My guitar is still attractive (and what I requested), but it is so solid and plays so well that this is one heck of an investment for any guitarist. Looking forward to doing more business with you! What gave you the idea of adding that brass block in the bridge? Where did you pick up that trick?