Commissioning a Custom Instrument

Often enough guitar players find that there really isn't anything quite right for them "off the rack". It could be that they really want a particular neck shape, scale length, pickup arrangement, or even favourite woods. For them, commissioning a custom-designed instrument is the only solution.

If you can imagine it, I can build it. The first step is to consult you, the player. A fine instrument should last you the rest of your life, so it is imperative that it be exactly right for you. We would consider your playing style and technique, the "look" you like, the kind of sound you want, and of course your budget. This consultation is arguably the most important part of the building process, so we'll take as much time as we need to get it right. While I specialize in ergonomically-shaped instruments, together we can determine what works best for you particular playing style. Ideas will be refined through concept sketches before a final plan is drawn up. For some ideas, see my Gallery.

Since I don't have the overhead of a factory, a marketing department, or a large workforce, my guitars may cost little more than a top-quality factory-made guitar. Here is a range of values (in Canadian dollars) for a basic custom instrument:

Electric guitar or bass: $4000 and up

Flat-top guitar: $5000 and up

Archtop Guitar: $10,000 and up

Requesting exotic woods, custom contouring or advanced electronics systems will raise the price, but I am still committed to providing excellent value. To see some examples of what's possible, view my Gallery.

When the design has been finalized I will provide you with a price quote. When you are completely satisfied with the price and the plan, I will request a 30% non-refundable deposit. At that point, construction of the instrument can begin. If requested, I will provide periodic progress reports, with photos, so you can see your guitar take shape.

It takes time to produce a one-of-a kind instrument; expect your custom order to take 8 months or more to be completed. After receipt of the final payment, the instrument will be shipped to you. It will carry a 10-year warranty for the original owner, meaning that I will replace or repair anything within the terms of the warranty free of charge. But that's not all: you have two weeks to decide if the guitar lives up to your expectations. In the unlikely event that the guitar is not to your satisfaction, you can return it for a refund (minus the 30% deposit and shipping costs).

One-of-a-kind guitars made in this way are the ultimate expression of the luthier's art. Expect the guitar to undergo some changes in the following months and years. It will probably need minor adjustments after a few months as the wood settles into its new life as a musical instrument. Some woods will change colour over time, sometimes very noticeably. The tone of the instrument also matures, quite dramatically at first, then more slowly, but always for the better. You will adapt to your instrument in wonderful and subtle ways, and it will adapt to you.