Custom guitars are certainly luxury items that clients spend a lot of money on, so they're picky about their requirements; which has led to some unusual builds for the luthiers. Ben recalls creating a custom bass for Goldfrapp's Charlie Jones, which was crafted from a specially cast acrylic with glitter suspended in it.
“The challenging part was the month it took to carve all our ergonomic features by hand,” he says, “it's an incredibly hard material. And acrylic smells of strawberries when you start heating it up with power tools, I don't know why!”
Pride of place in Mark's collection goes to the Baritone custom acoustic he made for guitarist extraordinaire Preston Reed, although his biggest challenge was customising Martin Taylor’s archtop, which had been signed by Chet Atkins. “He just said 'go wild, experiment, chop bits off if you want!' I was a little more reserved than that but I'm pleased with the results, particularly the Celtic Knot work, which was a new experience for me.”
Ultimately all this work comes back to the client, who will be paying for and living with the instrument. What do the guitar makers strive for? Peter sums it all up with his three rules: “Clients need to love the look of it, the feel of it and most importantly the sound of it!”
It almost sounds easy. Now, where's that lump of the trojan horse I had in the attic? It'll look great with strings on...