Sunday, November 7, 2010

the idea

In February of 2010, I found out that my wife and I were having a son in October. I love guitars, and I had the bright idea to assemble a guitar for my son this year, then mothball it until he was old enough to play, or expressed interest in playing, at which point I'd present it to him and explain how I built assembled it in the year preceding his birth, symbolism galore, etcetera. Happy family moment.

Well, I also wanted the guitar to be perfect.

I don't mean perfect like "flawless finish," or "incredible inlays;" I mean perfect like "everything you need, nothing you don't."

The "...nothing you don't" is easy.

The "everything you need" is tough.

I communicated with the well-known custom guitar shops that most folks use for building "Partscasters." My design was too far off the beaten path for them, and neither of the shops I talked to would make the guitar body I had in mind. I hadn't considered that they might not make it; and my plan was back at square one.

Then it dawned on me - with the amount of money I had saved up for a custom made guitar body and neck, I could buy the tools I needed to make my own.

I like Stratocasters. I like Telecasters. I like Les Pauls. I like ES-335s. I like Flying Vs. I like Rickenbackers. I am not a polarized guitar player that proclaims loyalty to one brand family. I hate poorly executed "compromise" guitars. I love well executed "compromise" guitars. Even though I basically have one of each type in the rack at home, for some reason I like and want to build "do-it-all" guitars.

I have decided to make the goal for the guitars I build to be the condensation of everything I like about guitars.

This seems simple to me - put everything I like on it, leave everything I don't like off of it. But there are times when you cannot have it both ways - for example, if I like the single-cutaway low-mid focus of Telecasters and Les Pauls, but I like the double-cutaway balance, ergonomics, and access of Stratocasters and 335s, I have to pick one. Or can I design a guitar that gives me both?

There are many choices similar to this that I am making and will continue to have to make as I build these guitars. Right now, since I am just starting out, I am going to get going by building some familiar shapes, and blending features in the hardware department. Once I learn how to build by walking myself through the process a couple of times, then I will begin to create my own designs, solve the riddles of a do-it-all guitar, and move forward into projects that bring excitement to myself and others.

We named our son Phinn. He is the reason that I am starting to build guitars, so I am naming the whole guitar building experiment after him.

Welcome to phinn guitars.


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