As a craftsman, I strive to build the perfect guitar. There's no such thing of course, but I can at least aim towards that ideal by looking at my work with a critical eye. I'm clearly biased though. The only way to really see what I've done right and done wrong is to ask players and customers: how could I make my guitars better?
The owner of Ulma was kind enough to send me this thoughtful review after he'd had a chance to play it for a while. Is it perfect? No- but I'm really trying. Here's exactly what he had to say about his Sankey Guitar:
"The motivation for getting this custom guitar was the ergonomic body shape, which is not currently in production as a standard guitar. After three months, it is, in general, working well for me. The 15 degree wedge profile of the body tilts the fretboard toward my eyes, reducing the need to slouch over to look at my left (fretting) hand. In addition, it makes my left wrist straighter on open chords, which reduces fatigue.
"The leg cutout, combined with the thick cross-section of the body below the neck, positions and stabilizes the guitar while sitting, eliminating the usual jostling I have while playing an electric guitar while seated. The one part of the body I would change is the contour above the neck. My arm tends to slide toward the bridge end of the guitar due, I believe, to the convex shape. In order to anchor my right (strumming/picking) hand, I have to clench my bicep. (If you have any tips on how to get around this, please let me know.) From a design standpoint, if I was to respecify the guitar, I would ask you how this part of the body should be shaped to improve this situation. My first thought would be a straight, Flying-V type top (see sketch). I am reasonably certain this would be an improvement, but having missed the mark on the first try, I would want to consider more options.
"The neck/setup was the most pleasant surprise on the guitar. Easily the most comfortable neck I have tried, I can play barre cords for a long time without thumb fatigue, and yet there is no buzz. I will need to go through a full year of weather changes before I know for certain, but the neck seems also to be very stable in response to temperature and humidity changes.
"The electronics/pickups are dead quiet with no input, and go from warm, pleasant tones at low output to an excellent vintage overdrive at full range. The two knob setup, one tone and one volume control for both pickups with a bridge-both-neck selector switch, is simple and intuitive. I was concerned that I might miss having separate controls for each pickup, but this has not been the case so far, and I like the convenience of being able to switch between pickups and have the output level roughly the same.
"Dealing with you, both before the contract and through the build, far exceeded my expectations. Email replies were prompt, thoughtful, detailed and easy to understand, even in cases where I asked a lot of questions. No detail was left to chance. The neck shape discussion where I photographed my left hand on a guitar neck in fretting position, and you actually built a few neck shapes was well beyond what I could reasonably ask for. I would not hesitate to commission another instrument from you."