Why don't many famous musicians use custom-made guitars?

exalted

Senior member
Messages
723
If we can make an excellent guitar for 1000-1500 using Warmoth parts, I'm sure someone with unlimited funding could make something truly unique and excellent...but you don't usually see that in big-time musicians. What gives? Sponsorships?

I can think of a few, but not many. (okay, Matt Bellamy of Muse is all that's coming to mind right now)
 

hannaugh

Senior member
Messages
4,230
I dunno man, it makes no sense to me.  I think I would go with as much crazy custom stuff as I could get if I were famous and had the cash, I don't care how much the big guys offered me. 

The coolest custom creation I have ever seen (obviously besides Warmoth's stuff) is this thing, used by my favorite musician and all around cool dude, Andrew Bird:  http://www.specimenproducts.com/amps/janus_horn.html 

The part where it says "Several people within earshot simply started to cry," is completely true.  I have seen this guy perform several times, and I know I teared up a couple times because the sound is so beautiful and weird.  It's really hard to describe what it is like when the sounds are all layered together (because he live loops A LOT) and he powers that thing up and whistles through it... it's just awesome.  He also uses two of their regular large horn amps. 

Look around at some of Specimen Products other stuff, it's fricken rad. 
 

Wana_make_a_guitar

Senior member
Messages
2,793
hannaugh said:
I dunno man, it makes no sense to me.  I think I would go with as much crazy custom stuff as I could get if I were famous and had the cash, I don't care how much the big guys offered me. 

The coolest custom creation I have ever seen (obviously besides Warmoth's stuff) is this thing, used by my favorite musician and all around cool dude, Andrew Bird:  http://www.specimenproducts.com/amps/janus_horn.html 

The part where it says "Several people within earshot simply started to cry," is completely true.  I have seen this guy perform several times, and I know I teared up a couple times because the sound is so beautiful and weird.  It's really hard to describe what it is like when the sounds are all layered together (because he live loops A LOT) and he powers that thing up and whistles through it... it's just awesome.  He also uses two of their regular large horn amps. 

Look around at some of Specimen Products other stuff, it's fricken rad. 
If the big guys (Gibson, Fender) were to offer me the chance to make a signature model if I was famous, I'd go the no shite option and make sure they make it to MY specs so it's a good deal. OR just nag Warmoth till they sponsor me!  :icon_biggrin:
 

Kostas

Senior member
Messages
1,381
Most musicians are using custom guitars. Guitars built for them with their choice of neck shape, radius, pickups, selected woods etc. Also most signature models you see on stores usually differ in specs from the real signature guitar. Same goes with amps & pedals.
 
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8,318
exalted said:
If we can make an excellent guitar for 1000-1500 using Warmoth parts, I'm sure someone with unlimited funding could make something truly unique and excellent...but you don't usually see that in big-time musicians. What gives? Sponsorships?

I can think of a few, but not many. (okay, Matt Bellamy of Muse is all that's coming to mind right now)

What famous musicians do you know of playing off of the shelf guitars?  I'm pretty sure Slash, Clapton, Nugent, Santana, and Paige aren't getting their Fenders, PRSs, and Gibsons from their local Guitar Center.
 

taez555

Senior member
Messages
628
If you believe Ed Roman, he's got some great article's on his site about how all the pro-musicians use ghost builders.  Sure all the gutiars have the Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, PRS, etc, name on the headstock, but 99.9% of the instruments made for celebrities are made in custom shops by expert luthiers, often who don't even work directly for the companies.    Or... often times they'll play the original one-off prototypes of their signature model.  Look at Vai for instance, his main two guitars, EVO & FLO are both the prototypes made whent he Jem 7V was being designed.    You rarely see him play those off the shelf, mass produced, basswood, Jems.

Slash is the best example.  His main 3 Les Pauls, that he records ever record with, are all fakes.  Super accurate, better, reproductions of 1959 Les Pauls made to look and sound EXACTLY, or better than the originals.  He even admits it.

erik
 

greywolf

Senior member
Messages
1,085
Jerry Garcia had a number of customs , the most famous being Tiger which sold at auction for $925,000.
Trey Anastasio of Phish , Kevin Eubanks  (Leno)  .  Santana has played custom made guitars over the years as well.  Greg Lake , Keith Richards, George Harrison all play(ed)  custom Zemaitis ,

A lot of the reason folks don't tour with them is they get stolen , or beat to hell.
 

Orpheo

Senior member
Messages
2,766
the only reason I can think of, is that big companies pay them to play those instruments. I dont know what I'd do when I were famous... Play gibsons and get payed, or play warmoth and dont get payed. I LOVE my warmoths and crimson guitars-in-the-making. so, it all depends on how much gibson will pay me...and a signature model of my guitars? gibson will never use a wenge neck, ziricote, padouk or a rosewood neck. and I refuse to play PRS.
 

gnome

Senior member
Messages
127
they do but they use custom shop guitars from whichever company sponsors them

or alternatiely they use off teh shelf guitars they bought before they were famous but are still attatched to...
 

gingataff

Active member
Messages
72
Not only do they get the custom shop version of their instrument they are often locked into a legally binding contract over it. Look at Andy Timmons, he wanted to be able to play Fenders and Gibsons when the mood caught him but his Ibanez contract forbade it, so he left Ibanez. Now he's back with them again. I guess the lure of income from a new signature model and all the free advertising he'll get pays more bills than slinging around an old Strat.
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,299
I was thinking of putting a "Build your own Trevor May model guitar" on our website.  That would be pretty funny...

Yep, we're famous... in our own minds...  :tard:
 

Vol. Knob

Senior member
Messages
601
Someone beat me to the Jerry Garcia and Trey Anastasio comment...

Toni Iommi did in the early '70s due to his left-handed-ness and missing finger tips, before more companies started catering to his needs.

Jimmy Herring has a Warmoth habit.

I think part of the reason famos players continue to use mostly off-the-shelf guitars is because their focus is on their playing and songwriting.  I once read a post on a forum where a guy was complaining about how Steve Earl said "whatever's there" when asked what amp he used.  

Some famous players just wanna play the same guitar, or type of guitar, that their heros played.  Simple as that.  

I'm a famous musician, in a very very very small circle.  Over the years around 10 people have told me that Zerababyl is one of their favorite bands and bug me to do more with it ( http://www.myspace.com/zerababyl ), and I play guitars that are customized (or totally blasphemed and abused, depending on your outlook).  I am not a Rock Star, I'm more of a small comet, or asteroid.  If Rock Stars were Kings, I'd be the king of Sealand, or a small island that disapears at high tide, my castle would need stilts....

 

stubhead

Senior member
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4,669
One thing I've noticed is that the best musicians, with rare exceptions, stick with a very few specific guitars. As mentioned, Vai still plays his very first Ibanez prototypes. Jeff Beck's favorite Strat still has the neck from a 1989 signature, oft-repaired. There are ROCK STAR types who change guitars every song and have the requisite sunburst Les Pauls and '57 Strats oozing out their orifices, but most of the tone guys are real particular about what they play. Eric Johnson still loves his (2) old Strats, 335, SG (but you can buy his signature Fender), John McLaughlin will tour with a Godin but that old scalloped 345 and his Johnny Smiths keep resurfacing, Morse played his original signature Music Man until it fell apart and just recently went the quilty/gold-geegaw route on a new signature (same thing happened to John Petrucci, funny how two tone gods simultaneously discover $4000 guitars sound better... :icon_scratch:).

It also DOESN'T MATTER, when they get a new guitar they just set the knobs differently and go back to work - as David Gilmour says, repeatedly, he can get whatever he needs at any decent music store in any city - he just uses what he has because he's used to it and it does what he needs. This doesn't preclude you from being able to purchase the new David Gilmour signature Fender for $4000, to go with your Eric Johnson, Andy Summers, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix Fenders*.... Actually you really need one of each, so you can be a good musician too. Just don't bother practicing, you can buy your way to success like all those other great musicians who started out having everything handed to them on a silver platter and still practiced sixteen hours a day because it was more fun than anything else they could think of.... :toothy12:


*(hey Fender, you can just donate my kickback to my favorite charity - The Me Foundation...)
 

Vol. Knob

Senior member
Messages
601
Stubhead

I recently read an interview with David Gilmour in a guitar magazine where the interviewer keeps asking Dave about this piece of gear and that piece of gear...  Dave will politely answer the question and end each response with some variation of "the gear really isnt whats important", "but I usually just sound like myself", or "I wish there wasnt such a focus on the gadgets".  I tend to agree. 

When I was a teen there seemed to be soooo much to choose from.  Now, in the final months of my thirties, it just boggles my mind.  Every time I go online or crack open a guitar mag, there's at least five new manufacturers of guitar gear that have that latest and greatest.  Its what drives my latest need to eliminate logos from my headstocks and use as many different manufacturers as I can for the parts in my guitars.  I don't wanna be an advertisment anymore.  I'm not ashamed to mention what I use and what piece of gear I like (I tend to prattle on a bit about Reed James Custom pickups... but I've been waiting for someone to do what they do, for a long time.).  When I'm up playing, I don't want anyone to look at me and say "Hey, whos that Fender guy?". 

Back to the original point...  Some folks like McDonalds, some folks like Wendy's, some would rather have Chipotle, and others hit the grocery store, buy the ingrients and do it themselves.  Doesnt matter whether thier famous or not.
 

thumb55

Senior member
Messages
420
Everybody talks about the big stars, nobody really mentions the young touring guy.  That guy that needs his guitar to be road worthy but also needs that Ad in Guitar World just as bad as anything because of income.  I think a lot of those guys might build their own if the money wasn't in it, or at least would play something different if they had to pay for it.
 

newmexstrings

Active member
Messages
58
How about two guys like Tom Petty and Mike Campbell------unlimited funds to support their Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. They get the sound they're going for from old Rickenbackers, Gretches, Teles, 335's etc.

They can justify paying 5k to 20k or so for choice vintage pieces and then having their techs restore these guitars to perfect playablity.

For us 'normal' folks to be able to pay $1000 to $1500 for a brand new, custom-made dream guitar is pretty cool, but not for everybody.

A few years ago, I bought a 1970 Gretsch Viking in 'fair-good' condition for $1000. Unfortunately, on those old Gretsches, the binding is notorious for crumbling. As soon as I started gigging regularly with the Viking, the binding got really bad. To have this professionally redone would cost more than the guitar originally cost me. Instead, I'm waiting on my new Warmoth project: a Thinline Tele with total Gretsch mojo, all Gretsch parts, a Bigsby and TV Jones Filter'tron pickups. It won't have 'vintage value', but it's so nice to be able to say that it's a one-of-a-kind original design and made in the USA to boot!
 

blue313

Senior member
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2,824
newmexstrings said:
I'm waiting on my new Warmoth project: a Thinline Tele with total Gretsch mojo, all Gretsch parts, a Bigsby and TV Jones Filter'tron pickups.
Sorry for the temp hijack but this sounds pretty cool, I thought about doing one of these too.  What kind of bridge setup?
 
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