My own first true custom build pt.1 - The journey begins
Even up until this point, this has been a long road for me. I'm going to delve into why, so forgive me if this rambles on too much, but I figured there might be aspects of this we all relate too. I've been increasingly disheartened with the electric guitar in terms of personal enjoyment for a while now. Although I have been surrounded by such beautiful instruments through my shop, I've really struggled (in my own head) to capture the excitement I once had and that's a slippery downward slope. One I'm sure we've all been on as self destructive, critical guitar players! I made a conscious effort a few months ago to change that. A conscious effort to pin point what I enjoy most about guitar playing, which was ultimately making my own sounds. I spent an entire childhood recreating the famous riffs and sounds of the guitar icons, it taught me so much, but do I truly enjoy still doing that at nearly 31 years old, with 25 years of guitar playing under my belt, the answer was no. Looking back on my time playing guitar, I think I can honestly say I was at my happiest, most 'care free' time if I'm going to go all hippy on you, was when I was making my own music. Good or bad isn't really the point, but importantly it was a time when I honestly cast aside anything I'd really played before and just tried to get some of the sounds from inside my head. As with most of these situations, life got busy with the late 20s early 30s story of buying houses, learning how to be a Dad, and of course also starting this business which very much IS my life from dawn till dusk.
So, how to fix that? I started breaking down why I wasn't playing electric guitar for fun anymore, did I still like it? That was a certain, I really liked it and despite the disheartened lack of enthusiasm for it over recent years, it is still in my blood. I really hate to say it, but during the time of recording demo videos for the shop I was inadvertently putting a lot of pressure on myself. After all, I'm laying my guitar playing out for a whole community to see, for an over thinker that eaten away at me quite a bit it seems! I found myself spending an awful lot of time putting a video together that I'd ultimately not like at all and have to scrap to approach again another day. That isn't very healthy for self esteem, let alone my enjoyment levels and I do feel that contributed to almost resenting the electric guitar to an extent, despite putting out a lot of videos people have overall been really positive about.
MAKE GUITAR PLAYING FUN AGAIN. In full Donald Trump voice. I needed a fresh start, I really wanted to get back into making music again, not for anyone else but myself and that honestly got me hyped up about playing at the mere thought. I sold off a lot of my own pedals to fund various shop things early on, but I decided to try and build a mini board up to help achieve sounds I enjoy to make. I really love bands like Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, This will destroy you, Incubus, Bibio, Godspeed you! black emperor, Yourcodenameis:Milo, Deftones, Russian Circles etc etc, so if you're aware of any bands like that it really is about the atmosphere and stories in sounds almost. So instantly you picture delay, reverb, a bit of drive, and if the tight budget allows, some crazy modulation in the future too. But Delay and reverb were top of that list for sure to get the creative juices flowing. I picked up a superb and very fairly priced TC Electronic Alter Ego x4 delay, which has a wealth of great analogue vibe delays with an inbuilt looper too which will be handy during sound making. Then one that was firmly on my lust list finally became my own, the INCREDIBLE Meris Mercury 7 Reverb. I urge you to check this pedal out, I've barely scratched the surface on what this pedal can do and I'm already in love. See? I'm getting excited about playing guitar to make MY sounds again already, this is finally looking more positive. Gear can very much inspire, or certainly help bring sounds out from within your head and hearts.
Even with just these few things helping me to concentrate on playing for my own enjoyment again, I honestly am doing so already. It's a bit of a learning curve to get used to pedals again, let alone begin to learn how to use them to their full capability, but I think once I'm feeling a bit more at home with the pedals and thinking more about making music I'll be a touch more relaxed.
As you might have seen recently, I sold my long time owned Custom Shop Strat. I'd owned it for a long time and had some great memories with it, gigging with my best pal, won't forget it by any means. But I'd drifted increasingly far away from that guitar over recent years and the time had come to let someone else enjoy it way more than I was, and that happened when Michael bought it from me which I'm super happy about as he truly seemed over the moon with it which was a nice end to my time with that guitar. What to replace it with though huh? Seriously tough decision and one I definitely wasn't going to take lightly. Well, during my trip to Berlin and the Holy Grail Guitar Show I absolutely fell in love with the guitars I'd been so curious about and decided to order one for myself. Yup, a Millimetric MGS3!
The guitar felt so drastically different to anything I'd played before, and even with just the headphones on in my own little world playing the three Florian had on display at the show, I felt no preconceptions of what I SHOULD play on these wonderfully built guitars. A chance to be myself I suppose, and after the journey I've had reaching this point I really felt that was a 'meant to be' moment. The above illustration was sent to me by Florian earlier this week after confirming my specs on the build, and is a awesome way to visualise how it will end up when my time comes. I'm going to document the build in this series of blog posts, so I thought this would be a suitable way to start it off!
I've chosen the MGS3 model, which is an offset shape loosely inspired by the Jazzmaster. A guitar that has honestly changed my view on what I thought I wanted from an electric guitar, so it almost seemed fitting to go with a model inspired by it.
Myself and Florian chatted about an interesting finish idea for my build, of which he's going to do some test pieces to see how it works out. So hopefully I'll be able to share how those test pieces look in these build updates when the time comes. I also fell in love with Millimetric's gold foil pickups, super ballsy and clear sounding. We wondered whether instead of the gold foil, if having a matching copper finish would look cool and if the illustration is anything to go by, I think this will work out great.
Here's a run down of the specs I decided on for the build. I must admit I was pretty stressed out worrying about what to go for, but I manned up and made the decisions.
BODY: Canadian locally sourced Walnut, Copper custom finish (hopefully!).
NECK: Oxidized Canadian locally sourced Walnut, two way truss rod. 20mm 1st fret, 21mm 12th fret. white fretmarkers.
HARDWARE: Hipshot open gear black tuners. MMB 6 strings fixed bridge string through. Black Dunlop flushmount straplocks. Stainless steel frets.
PICKUPS: MMGF neck and bridge, with copper foil.
ELECTRONIC: Volume and tone, 3 way switch
pickup selector, switchcraft mono jack.
I was heavily inspired by the MGSB3 Baritone Florian had on display at Holy grail, which I'll add some photos of here. I fell in love with the copper finish in person, something I didn't think I'd go for initially but seeing how that colour reacted to the light made it a no brainer. So I hope our variation on it we have planned works out to add some more texture to this already beautiful finish.
When the build begins, or as things progress along the way, I'll be updating this blog series. So you want to join me on my journey to my own first true custom built guitar, then by all means keep you eye out for updates! Thanks for reading part 1, I hope some of my ramblings are relate-able and feel free to share your own stories in the comments, perhaps it'll help us all be more inspired to play guitar again.
Needless to say, so excited about seeing my build come together, thank you to Florian for putting up with me already haha.