Exile Custom Guitars - my first move into complete custom guitars

cdscarter

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As I previously mentioned in an earlier post, during lockdown I started a small guitar supplies and building company selling and build timber and parts for luthiers and amateur builders and well as necks and bodies.

Early this year, my colleague and I also decided to try our hands at making our own designed guitars and here is the early prototype.

3193D5FA-4635-4486-9C18-CBE1ECFF712B.jpeg


I'm sorting out the neck for this during the week. Personally really like the design, but would love other opinions.

Specs:

One Piece Sapele Body (42mm)
Nitrocellulose Cardinal Red Finish
Custom UK Made Telecaster Bridge w/ Brass Compensated Saddles
UK Made Hand Wound Grainer Telecaster Pickup (Bridge) and Humbucker (Neck)
CTS Pots

Walnut Neck
Wenge Board w/ Brass & Aluminium Dot Inlays
Nitrocellulose Finish
Grover Locking Tuners

Idea is to start this at £1250 w/ Hardcase. However, customers would be able to customise their guitars with the pickups wound to their preference, their own colour choice and a choice of neck and fretboard woods.

They can also upgrade to a slightly higher end model with Ebony Fretboard, flame/quilt maple tops, binding and gold hardware.

Fingers crossed it goes well. Wish me luck!
 

cmjohnson

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I tend to be somewhat judgemental, particularly about body shapes. And I'm a very traditionalist kind of person.

My opinions:

I LIKE the body shape. Classic enough to be familiar, distinctive enough and different enough to be identifiably yours, AND likely well out of the danger zone that comes from getting too close to body shapes owned by certain big guitar companies.

Not so sure I like the notion of a walnut neck. In my experience, some pieces of walnut resonate well, others might be made out of lead. Be sure you pick your neck stock for good resonance properties.

I'd highly recommend Schaller tuning machines instead of Grovers. I've never liked Grovers and they have had serious quality control issues with their tuners. I've found new in the box Grovers that couldn't even be assembled to the guitar because they'd neglected to thread the neck of the shaft collar to screw in the bushing. Twice. For me it's Schaller all the way, every time, all the time. As far as I'm concerned they are the king of the tuning machine hill. And I've NEVER found one that had any manufacturing defects.

I think your pricing is spot on. I had to convert pounds to dollars but you're right where I'd price a comparable instrument that I built.

I'd recommend that you offer more standard finish choices. Red, natural, black, and white are the first four I'd start with, and TV yellow seems to be popular with many players though personally that's not an attractive color to me, not at all.

For finish upgrades, if the customer wants a metallic finish, for that you should go with an automotive acrylic urethane paint system (and you can still use lacquer for the clearcoats) because you can get ANY color including metallics when you go with automotive finishes.
 

ARandall

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A thought - where do you plan to have the rear end strap button??

Neck dive on some designs can be an issue, and particularly if you have a very dense neck wood choice, plus a bad pattern of strap button locations
 

BadPenguin

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My two cents....
Body design I have seen on a few models. D'Angelico comes first to mind, with Minarik doing the same only backwards on the bottom "point thingy".
I don't want a tele pickup in the bridge, you need options.
Same with a tele bridge. What about a wrap around?
I LOVE a hand oiled walnut neck! But as was said earlier, some are like death tonally. Stained ash is a option.
Chambered?
 

dcomiskey

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I just want to chime in and say congrats and best of luck In your business. I admire that you’re chosen to go this path, as I’ve been struggling with a similar decision (as my dad always said, “Shit, or get off the pot!”). We’re all going to be cheering you on!! :dude:
 

cdscarter

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Thanks to everyone so far who have offered their opinions, it is really appreciated.

Just to answer some of the questions/comments that have come up:

Schaller Locking Tuners: Great Idea! Funnily enough I use those on my personal guitars so I have no idea why they slipped my mind.

Rear Strap Button: Haven't the foggiest idea. My original plan had been to have it just bellow centre on the 'flick/point'. But I'm possibly reconsidering it. Locking strap buttons no matter what.

Options: We do have another design in the works with a top loaded hardtail and HSS pickup combination. The idea on this current model is to stick to the Telecaster bridge but either use blade pickups for a Humbucker option in the bridge or one of the tele bridges with the Humbucker pickup space. I will do a chambered one when I do one with a top. This one is just a real nice chunky monkey at 5.7lbs if I remember correctly.
 

cmjohnson

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For the rear strap button I'd just counterbore a spot for the strap button, on axis with the centerline of the guitar. But be careful to ensure that you can actually attach a strap equipped with straplocks.

As for that....I always equip my guitars with Schaller straplocks. "Standard factory equipment" you might say. And because having strap button screws strip, break, rust, or pull out ALWAYS sucks, I toss out the screws that come with them, and go to a fatter, longer stainless screw (40mm or so) that requires me to slightly grind down the diameter of the screw head so that it fits in the button. And maybe even have to drill out the button by a little for it to fit, too. I want that screw in the body to stay right where I put it and it's never coming out by itself. I've been doing that for 35 years and so far, not one oversized screw I've put in has ever backed out or broken. No stainless one has rusted into the wood. So that's the easy way to solve that particular problem, pretty much forever.
 

Dark Horse

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Congrats on the new business. Do you have access to an artist if customers wanted something very different as far as paint work go?
 

cdscarter

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Congrats on the new business. Do you have access to an artist if customers wanted something very different as far as paint work go?
Depends what you have in mind but I do have several artists I'm in contact with. Send me a message if you like?
 

ArchEtech

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What about ABR with strings through the body?

What about doing a body carve at the “flick” point as you call it, rather than a full body cutaway. Slightly more traditional look, but different and solves the strap button issue maybe.

Will your top carve, and neck angle allow for a non recessed Floyd tremolo? That is something I hear people ask for in a single cut.

You’re heel looks fun. Will be interested to see the final product.
 

Thundermtn

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Reverse the peak at the tail strap button. Right now it's the cousin of an Ibanez Iceman only the strap pops off like crazy this way. Mirror imaged though it'll stay strapped for infinity.
 

cdscarter

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What about ABR with strings through the body?

What about doing a body carve at the “flick” point as you call it, rather than a full body cutaway. Slightly more traditional look, but different and solves the strap button issue maybe.

Will your top carve, and neck angle allow for a non recessed Floyd tremolo? That is something I hear people ask for in a single cut.

You’re heel looks fun. Will be interested to see the final product.

We did think about doing an ABR version but currently beginning with the Tele version or a hardtail version.

Currently there isn't any top carve to this and I don't really plan to do one. It will be flat like a special or junior. We can do a Floyd as rather than a neck angle the neck sits above the body by 8-9mm like a Stratocaster. This also has a 25.5" scale length.
 

Dark Horse

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Depends what you have in mind but I do have several artists I'm in contact with. Send me a message if you like?
Thanks, I was just thinking in advance. If I were to get a custom guitar I think I would want the full experience and get some kind of unique art work or colour scheme etc on it as well. I'll keep note of your company for when I am ready to explore that further.
 

brokentoeswalker

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Looks just like a reverse tail Fernandes Revellle in a tele config.

Cool !!
 

dcomiskey

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My favorite tuners are Hipshots. Super high quality, and I love the open-gear look. They're pretty much all I use on my builds.
 

failsafe306

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My favorite tuners are Hipshots. Super high quality, and I love the open-gear look. They're pretty much all I use on my builds.
I’m trying some out on my Junior build. Hey seem pretty top notch.
 


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