What an Opportunity!
So… we at RevenFlo (our marketing company) produce a show called The Local Pickup about guitars and gear and the people who love them. As part of making this show, we are headed to Santa Cruz, CA to spend two days with legendary luthier Richard Hoover and Santa Cruz Guitar Company to shoot an episode of the show with them.
The episode is going to be about Richard and Santa Cruz Guitar Company and about building a custom guitar. So, to do this, Richard is going to walk me through making all of the choices of a fully custom guitar with Santa Cruz Guitar Company. Then, you guessed it, they’re going to make the guitar for me and I get to keep it! So, I will get to have my very own custom made Santa Cruz guitar. This is very exciting to me.
So, in my communications with Carolyn Great-to-work-with at Santa Cruz, I have been asked the casual question of what I want, or where my thoughts are about woods and options and such. While this is the most reasonable question, and was asked very casually, it arrested me like I was a dazed child in a toy store who was just asked, “Ok, so what do you want? Go ahead now, pick it out.” I was stunned.
So, I sat down and wrote a response to the question of what I would want if I could have my very own custom guitar made by Santa Cruz Guitar Company.
My Response to “What Kind of Custom Guitar Do You Want?”
So, I love the stuff of story. My enamor with this whole experience of getting a custom guitar is rooted in that. I’ve seen videos where Richard talks about getting downed koa from a family in Hawaii and about getting some of the crops of sustainable mahogany from the fields planted by the British in secret to supply their Navy for World Wars I and II. The sustainability and the story are wonderful to me. So, anything like that is great.
I plan to keep this guitar and pass it on to my kids/grandkids. I plan to keep it hung on the wall in the living room (while not being played) so it will be a piece of art for sure. I plan to play it daily. I tend to sit in the living room and strum and pick casually. I also do almost all of my songwriting at my house and with an acoustic guitar (except for my punk band, I write on an electric not plugged in for that).
Anyway, I plan for this to be my primary writing instrument. I play mostly with a pick, but I’m not talking about bangin’ this one. It’s not for gigging or crowd pleasing. It’s for the more intimate setting of writing and sharing a song. I also plan to record with it. Any acoustic guitar part that I record that is a quieter more intimate part, I will use this guitar to record it. (Of course, I’ll also have a jumbo or dreadnought to record those other kinds of tracks as well!) As Richard told me at NAMM, “That’s why God wants us to have more than one guitar.”
I’m thinking a small-bodied guitar. I like the Firefly that SCGC makes and the 00 models. I guess I need to hold them on my knee and play them to see which is more comfortable to me.
This is the most important part, and it’s where I have the least to offer in terms of input to SCGC for my guitar. I do know that I’m not a big fan of super bright and jangly guitars, but I don’t want it to be dull either. I think I know some things… like mahogany is warmer/duller than sitka for example. But really, I know squat. I have a lot to learn here.
I want the guitar to be pretty lavish, though not gaudy. I want it to be a compelling work of art as it hangs on the wall. “Interesting looking” when compared to the average guitar. A conversation piece simply as a work of visual art.
I don’t know in terms of sound (which is of course the most important part). So I’ll just tell my preference by look. I like darker woods. And among the darker woods, I like cocobolo, blackwood, figured mahogany, and walnut. I am less fond of koa, indian rosewood, mahogany. Again, this is just by look.
Same thing here. I don’t know what SCGC will recommend for sound (the most important part), or what I may think when I play different sample guitars. As far as look though, I am less fond of the traditional natural lighter look. Again, I like darker or more accented or something. If that means a burst on the top, I’m not sure.
I guess it depends on the wood. Again, I tend to like the darker woods, so if it is a light wood (for sound) then maybe a burst? Or maybe a full body burst? Not sure.
Binding & Inlays
Again, I like more lavish here. So some kind of interesting “artsy” binding is cool. As for inlays, also somewhat lavish. I like the tree of life kind of stuff, or anything custom. Also, wood dividers in the back or the butt of the guitar (and things like that) that’s cool too!
Same thing about being a little lavish (at least matching the inlays and binding and such). I’ve always imagined a closed headstock, versus open headstock, but I don’t know anything about the difference except look.
I Have Faith in the Process
I’m eager to discuss with Richard and the folks at Santa Cruz these choices for a true work of art to be custom built for an single individual. What an experience. Plus, we hope it makes a great show!
Check out The Local Pickup on YouTube. Our most recent episode is us at Summer NAMM conference, we run into Richard briefly, and see a whole lot of other cool stuff as well!
PS – If anyone has any advice after reading this for the guitar choices – especially on wood types and sounds, then please share!