Visit to Carruthers today


Master Member
I had heard about this guy's stuff but never seen it. John Carruthers has a custom shop in Venice just a few miles from my house. I needed a few little random parts for my current build that I forgot to order, so I thought I'd use it as an excuse to check the shop out. Well the owner invited me to play some of his showcase builds, and they were some of the best guitars I've ever played. They were all just perfectly set up and totally flawless. He has some real vintage-style strats and some more original tele designs, as well as a carved top DC style and a couple of really amazing acoustic-electrics with spruce tops, no soundholes, and some EMG in the neck spot along with a piezo bridge. It played about 80% like a great electric and sounded about 90% like a great acoustic. I was really impressed, anyhow I mentioned what I was doing and his comment was "Warmoth? They're amateurs compared to me". He then gave me a tour of his tiny but totally equipped factory including CNC. All very cool! He showed me a body he'd just finished for the NAMM show, carved koa top double-bound ash tele body, just gorgeous. Then I asked how much, approximately, and he said $3500 for just the body! The repair shop was filled with very old jazz boxes and les pauls. The most interesting time I've ever had buying some screws and a jack plate!
I think Warmoth would sell that body for under $1000, probably under $750, but I've definitely got a place to go for fretwork and etc., those guitars were amazing.
He has some real vintage-style strats and some more original tele designs....

No, he just copied the designs.  I mean... give Leo and Co some credit~

But, ok, the guy is a good guitar maker, and full of love for himself it seems too.  A legend in his own mind.

Its wood.  What? He thinks HIS CNC based equipment is better than everyone elses?  Gimme a break.  Its wood.  You cut it down out in the place it grows, you dry it out, you slice it up, you grade it if you can, then you cut it up even more, in order to make something out of it.  Its wood.

Why is the body "going for" $3500.  Because some dumb schmuck out in Venice will be all gaa-gaa over "a Carruthers guitar" and pay the price.

Lame.  Totally lame.

Lots of way overpriced "stuff" these days, but if you can get someone to pay it, I don't blame the maker one bit. Captalism at it's finest. On the other hand, with our state of the economy here in the good ol' USA, right now, cash is king and there are lots of GREAT DEALS out there. Sounds like you had a great time tfarny! I'm diggin' it.
Bill in SC
My all-time fave so far is Michael DeTemple, $7027 for a Telecaster copy guitar:
It' doesn't have a flamed top or anything, it's just a board, but it has flatwound strings... Ahh!
For $1200 less ($5775), you can get a standard Tele copy with regular strings. Rosewood fingerboard, electronic shielding EXTRA CHARGE.... He spits good game:
Michael's uncanny sense of "touch memory" established the ideal neck shaping (as well as an accumulated long list of "secret recipes" for fingerboard and tone treatments).
Hate to see what a canny neck shaper might get to.... damn thing might just play itself. Oh wait, a $30 CD player can do that.  :icon_scratch:
Many consider Michael one of the world's best kept secrets for his almost fathomless knowledge and abilities to return, restore or setup guitars to their peak performance.
For seven thousand smackers, that's a lotta fathoming....  :blob7:
Not sure what the negative reaction comes from. I guarantee you that $3500 body is a WAY better value than the $6,000 "Botched finish, mismatched top" Gibson Custom Shop we were all laughing about a while back, or the $25,000 EVH copy. I'm sure Warmoth would sell it for  a lot cheaper, but it nonetheless was beautiful. I was really excited to get a private tour of a quality custom shop just for buying some neck screws etc.. I've never played nicer guitars than those he had there, I thought they were awesome, and never seen the inside of a guitar factory either. He didn't sound arrogant, just a proud craftsman. And if he can charge that much and still sell it, more power to him.

I'm gonna rant a bit.

We a picture of Mr DeTemple, file in hand... supposedly shaping a neck.  We hear of the skills of past craftsmen (and women) at places like Gibson. 

In fact, Gibson says... (cough cough) that well... they cannot make the neck joint of a Les Paul "as it used to be made" except in the custom shop.  Whereas, the current LP neck has a hump at the base of the neck itself, that allows it to "rock" in the pocket, thereby allowing the angle to vary fairly easily.  The neck is held on by the SIDES of the neck in contact with the sides of the pocket.  The bottom contact, as used to be had in the old days, is just a curved piece on a flat piece.  So, it takes super skilled craftsmen to do a "long" flat tenon neck fit.....

....and yet....

Every neck I've gotten from Warmoth, fits the pocket with damn near zero tolorance...

... which makes me think....

Its all just horseapples.  Things are not made for how they need to be made, they're made to be cheap as you can get, but still good enough to satisfy the needs of consumers, as brought back by focus groups.

Just know, when you get those CNC made parts from Warmoth, and they fit "like a dick in a rubber", the guys with the files and spokeshaves and inletting tools just cant do that.  And thats that.
I wish I had 7 thousand smackers... cause if I do I could build 7 Warmoth guitars (all with fancy wood and stuff)
Surprisingly, theres a market for guitars in this world, just go to Guitar Center and look at all the people looking at and playing guitars, it seems to never end.

I myself, without trying at all, have started a guitar building and repair business. It all started when I built my first Warmoth guitar and showed it to a couple friends, then they wanted one,  and wanted me to build (assemble, laugh,laugh, easy job) it for them, then their friends wanted one etc...Then people brought me their old guitars to do a setup on or refinish. I am doing everything for free now, but that won't last long. I am so busy now I have to turn down work, who woulda thought? I'm not even a real guitar player, I am a hack at best.

The next step is to build a shop in the backyard for building guitars, and build my own bodies and necks, I am sure I can match Warmoth quality, but it will be a much smaller scale, maybe 1 guitar a day (ie...working 7 or 14 at a time)

I don't foresee myself stopping My Warmoth builds, they have some awesome stuff in the showcase, and it's so (too) easy to get online and order it up.

If I ever get to a point where someone will pay me $3500 for a body, I will certainly do it. And I'll let you all know about it.
Just know, when you get those CNC made parts from Warmoth, and they fit "like a dick in a rubber", the guys with the files and spokeshaves and inletting tools just cant do that.  And thats that.

When somebody makes all their guitars by hand they advertise that as a marketing advantage, when somebody uses "precision" CNC machines they advertise that as a marketing ploy - fact is, there's a ridiculously large number of really great guitars out there - too bad music on the radio sucks, huh? People will say anything to trick you into giving them their money. I think it was Seymour Duncan who started up with the "scatterwound" pickup scam, advertising that old Gibson pickups sounded better because the windings were mismatched and sloppy. Now a lot of people are in on that, Bare Knuckles, WCR, everybody and their dog who bought a copy of "Wind your Own Pickups!" from Stew-Mac...

I have never heard of ANY other electronic component advertised as being BETTER because it was sloppily-made....  :laughing3:
Anyone wanna buy a scatterwound computer hard drive, hey let ME build the next space shuttle... :hello2:

WCR "Fillmores":
New custom built matched sets of humbuckers that are hand-wound to exactly replicate the tones used in the Fillmore recordings by Duane and others.
Except, the only "others" there was Dickey Betts and he didn't sound like Duane... and everybody knows Duane was using a no-master 50w Marshall head with ultra-clean JBL's and a 1958 Les Paul with pickups from his '57, but his own '57 didn't sound like that at the Atlanta Pop Festival a year earlier - and Gibson says you have to buy a '58 reissue for $6,000 to sound like Duane with their '57 pickups (scatterwound, these days :toothy12:). Ooooh if I put some WCR Fillmores in my Ibanez GAX I'll sound like Duane? Oooh goody....  :binkybaby:
this guy must think he's something special.  i know warmoth has limitations on total custom work but they kick out bodies and necks on a 4-6 week deadline with countless orders from around the world. compromises need to be made when you go into production but warmoth won't compromise quality. they compromise a small amount of flexibility to ensure pefect compatibility and interchangability with warmoth and non warmoth parts.
i'm sure this guy and many others build a fine guitar and it may be worth it to the non diy type who therefore know less about an instrument than, well us.
a so called enthusiest that needs a professional luthier to setup his instument will buy any lies you sell him.
that being said i'm very good with a CNC and when i'm out of the air force i'd love to sell guitar parts for half of what he gets. after 20-30 bodies i could pay off a Haas Mini. so would anyone hear be interested in a DiMitri custom in a few years? maybe i'll contract alfang to wind the p/u's
maybe my own buisness is wishful thinking but hey it could happen.