#1
I was wondering if anyone on these boards had gotten a custom guitar built by Rondo Music and if so what the quality of the build was like. I looked at a couple different builds , one LP style and one Strat style and the price was on the high side but well worth it if they do a good job of putting it all together. As the price was considerably higher than the mass produced guitars they sell I am hoping that signals a much higher amount of time spent on building it carefully and not leaving anything half done.
#2
Quote by Sunfist
I was wondering if anyone on these boards had gotten a custom guitar built by Rondo Music and if so what the quality of the build was like. I looked at a couple different builds , one LP style and one Strat style and the price was on the high side but well worth it if they do a good job of putting it all together. As the price was considerably higher than the mass produced guitars they sell I am hoping that signals a much higher amount of time spent on building it carefully and not leaving anything half done.


I have no idea about the "higher amount of time spent on building it carefully." I think the Agiles Rondo sells have a reputation already for being very high quality, particularly for the money spent.

I have a custom, from about 2009. I have an idea that the "custom" builds at that time were actually done to give the prototyping shop at the factory something to do, and to get an idea what customers wanted in production guitars. At the time, there was more emphasis on traditional style guitars at Rondo and the extended range things were just an idea.

At the time, the AL3200 (neck-through) LP style guitar didn't exist. I was putting together a Neal Schon Sig style guitar with a black Axcess Custom, and I was considering having a backup/stalking-horse cheaper guitar done to test the mods I wanted *before* I committed the Axcess. Originally, I'd planned to use a Carvin CS6 as a guinea pig (about $2K at the time), but when I noticed the Rondo custom shop was open, I decided to give it a try.

So I started ticking boxes. I don't think Kurt really thought anyone would go as far afield as I did, and I'm not sure that they'd planned some of these options to be available for the LP style guitar. I ordered an AL-3XXX style guitar, but with a 16" radius f/b and a wide *and* thin neck profile (wide meaning 1 3/4" width at the nut, thin meaning the depth of the neck from fretboard face to the back where your thumb goes). I ordered the guitar with neck-through construction, but then randomly ticked off one-piece back as well (wait, what?). And I wanted a Floyd. I wasn't too concerned about finish, so I ordered a standard cherry sunburst with the standard abalone blocks and triple binding of the AL3000. Kurt emailed me a photo of a smoothed neck heel they'd done for a left-handed neck-through previously, and I said that would be fine. Then he asked if I'd like to add a full thickness figured maple cap for $100. "Sure. Can you do it in a tight flame?" "I'll do what I can." Finish wasn't all THAT important to me, honestly. I just didn't want another black guitar.

The total price, including deposit and final payment and case and shipping, was $1160. I think that was probably the most expensive guitar they'd done to that point. About two months into the 4-month wait, I suddenly realized that I'd ordered a one-piece back, and that every neck-through guitar I owned had a neck and two body wings. Oh crap. How were they going to pull THAT off? I figured one or the other would have to go .

The guitar that arrived was spectacular.

There are photos of it elsewhere on this forum. The Floyd they used came from the same production line as what Floyd itself was using for the OFR that went on the Axcess. The tooling marks are identical. The neck profile is really nice and very fast. The neck heel is smoothed, not *quite* the shape of the Axcess (and there's no tummy cut). The back is one-piece, and they handled that by cutting a channel into the back and laying the neck right into it. We verified that by looking at the Floyd spring cavity, and found it again when we installed a Fernandes Sustainer. Given the number of cover plates that now festoon the guitar, it's really sad that I ordered a one-piece back .

Build quality was flawless, easily as good as the $4K Axcess. In fact, the frets were better (smoother).

Both guitars had a raft of modifications done ($1500 worth on each), including a fret superglue and PLEK, completely different pickup setup, the Fernandes Sustainer (required routing, drilling, installation of both the PCB and the battery box on the back), the installation of a Chandler Tone-X on a push-pull and turning another pot into a Sustainer Intensity pot. This left a Master Volume/master tone, and I moved the master volume toward the bridge/bridge pickup (required routing, drilling and another cover plate) and put a Buckethead-style kill switch in the old Tone spot. In the end, we replaced the Floyds with Schaller versions that had large brass sustain blocks installed. The pickup switch was also swapped out, and the cream tip became amber and the "poker chip" is now black and says, "Bitch/Moan."

I'd originally been told that I needed a recognizably *Gibson* Les Paul for the project ("none of that cheap offshore crap"). Thus the Axcess and the logo. The Agile was supposed to be the backup. As it turns out, the Agile rapidly became the #1, and the Axcess became the backup. Part of that was the playability of the wide/thin neck profile and the 16" radius and jumbo frets vs. the narrower deeper neck profile, 12" radius and medium jumbos of the Gibson. And part was the standard thickness solid body (heavier) vs. the chambered thinner body on the Axcess. Thanks to all the festoonery that went on the guitars, the "neck-through" business was sort of chopped up, and what we really have is a "really long tenon" guitar at this point. With all the hardware and electronics identical on both guitars, the Agile sounds different (and to most, "better").

At $1160, I thought the same as you, "You've really managed to tart up a $400 guitar." But you simply can't get anything close from Gibson or even Carvin at any price. It's SO been worth it. My only glitch so far is that a piece of the trim on the case has come adrift. The guitar itself is rock solid.

Would I order again? Actually, I plan to. The next one will be an AL3200 with the Axcess-style neck carve and tummy cut, another Floyd, and pretty much the same everything as the one I have (probably a slightly different color). I've been told that I probably can't get the 16" radius or the wide/thin profile any more, but I'm thinking I'll go for a 24-fret guitar this time, and maybe in a 25.5" scale. The total bill will be pretty close, actually, since I won't be ordering a single-piece back.
#3
Thank you for that very detailed explanation. I am still working on saving up the money but that is what I am going to do, it seems to be the only way I can get everything I want in one guitar and not only that but the end result is not horrendously expensive either.
#4
Quote by Sunfist
Thank you for that very detailed explanation. I am still working on saving up the money but that is what I am going to do, it seems to be the only way I can get everything I want in one guitar and not only that but the end result is not horrendously expensive either.


What are you considering doing?
#5
(Start hijack) Wow, that rundown you did and how you talked about the custom build really got me interested. Kurt should give you a sponsorship deal. I have been putting money away for a sweet tube amp but after reading your experience I may go that route and put the amp on hold. (end hijack)

To the OP, as long as you know what you are really looking for, (such as dspellman did) it sounds like a great option. When I say know what you want, I would stress to know 'exactly' what you want because some little things that are just seen as 'un-important' can really make or break a guitar experience (at least for me. The body and neck have to feel just right. The pups and hardware can be changed but that neck and body style are almost forever.)
Last edited by bass.desires at Jun 28, 2016,
#6
Quote by bass.desires


(Start hijack) Wow, that rundown you did and how you talked about the custom build really got me interested. Kurt should give you a sponsorship deal. I have been putting money away for a sweet tube amp but after reading your experience I may go that route and put the amp on hold. (end hijack)

To the OP, as long as you know what you are really looking for, (such as dspellman did) it sounds like a great option. When I say know what you want, I would stress to know 'exactly' what you want because some little things that are just seen as 'un-important' can really make or break a guitar experience (at least for me. The body and neck have to feel just right. The pups and hardware can be changed but that neck and body style are almost forever.)


Absolutely vital that you understand what you're asking for when you do a custom guitar (as my single-piece back blunder shows). I got lucky, but there have been folks who've done these things who haven't been quite so happy with unexpected results.

The other thing to remember is that mistakes can be made. What you think you made perfectly clear might NOT be so perfectly clear, or might be perfectly clear in a whole new direction to whomever is building the guitar. "Oh, THAT'S what you meant" is not uncommon. And then there's just the "Hmm. Guess I don't like it without the binding after all" reaction. What seemed like a brilliant idea at the time turns out not to look as good as you thought it would. Brain farts occur at all points of the process.

My advice is NOT to build your Dream Guitar the first time you do one of these. Stay conservative and be flexible enough to roll with what you actually get. Remember, in this case you're dealing with a language issue and they're 6500 miles away.

That said, they did a killer job on mine.
#7
Quote by bass.desires

Kurt should give you a sponsorship deal.

With the amount he bangs on about it, he probably does.
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#8
I've never done a custom job but the regular line SX Leo I thought was a really killer guitar. Especially for the price I payed for it.
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#9
pictures please, dspellman.. love to see what a custom guitar looks like, quality and finish.
I have Washburn guitars 'Maverick Series' and bass 'Bantam Series' and a few pedals and amps, but man I wish to have more patience and drive practicing my playing, if it's equal to the modding itch, then I'm golden.