ART & SCIENCE
“Necks are totally under-appreciated. When you look at a guitar, you tend to look at the body and the pickups and the controls, Those are the eye-catching bits. But all the labour and effort is really in the neck – if you don’t get that right, it’s not a musical instrument. It’s, at best, a bit of art.
“On the second guitar, I did the fretwork, which I shouldn’t have done, because that made the project run over way more than it should have done. I broke my own rule and made too big a jump. I bought a neck without frets, and I ended up having to do the frets three times before I got it right.
“Guitars three and four were built together, and I’m about to replace the neck on guitar three. It was an OK first effort, but I’m a slightly better guitarist than I was two years ago, and it now annoys me.
“A guitar has to speak to you in many ways. We are emotional beings, and our relationship with our instruments is partly based on how we feel when we look at them. I care about getting the details right so that the person who gets it has that sense of pride. I want them to go on stage. What makes me happiest is when people are on stage playing a guitar that I built. That’s the most awesome thing in the world. I went to one of my brother’s gigs, and he was there on the stage playing a guitar that I’d made. In some small way I was responsible for the audience having a good night. That’s an amazing sensation – nerve-racking as well, because if the guitar breaks, it’s all my fault.
THE QUEST CONTINUES
“Ultimately I’d love to do archtops. I think those jazz-style guitars are amazing. But it’s just a journey. I started with a Fender Telecaster, because it’s the simplest, dumbest guitar. It’s the original solid-body guitar, right? It’s a great starting place for someone who’s got no experience.
“I’d always had a Telecaster so I knew what it should feel like. And on each one, I try to do a bit more. The builds I’ve got going at the moment, one of them is the first one where the body design is my own. And it’s got some features from a Les Paul – it’s got the electronics cavities in the rear. That, to me, is a very sensible design decision. Whereas the fact that you have to take the strings off to do anything with the electronics on a Fender design just strikes me as insane.
“What I want to get to is making guitars that people like, in the shapes that they like, and I bring along the engineering elements that make them a good instrument.”