Experiences with Boutique Builds?

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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wadeaminute
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Re: Experiences with Boutique Builds?

Post by wadeaminute » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:25 pm

I was at the tail end of negotiations with Doug Kauer to buy a stacked set of DRS racks (holding fourteen guitars). I said to him, via email, both -
"Now if the racks only came in green sparkle..."
and
"Love your guitars, by the way. Would love a one-pickup Banshee some day."
He got back to me saying that they had just painted a one-pickup / wraparound Banshee green sparkle the day before:
"Literally just finished the clear on this one yesterday."
One month later, it was done, and I bought it.

Image

They installed coil split and cocked wah slider switches for me before they sent it out.
It is the finest guitar that I have owned, and, according to a dear and experienced musician friend, "...it might be the finest electric guitar I've ever played?"
It weighs 6.3 pounds. It has a very deep and wide neck - which feels to me like a 1958 Les Paul (no shoulders). It has a single Power'Tron Plus pickup and the sexiest compensated wrap-around bridge. And the colour changes as you move from dark green to lime green to gold, all while having just a hint of red in it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGpSA1orN1w
So, I took a big risk buying from someone in California while in Toronto with no idea of the build quality (and most significantly - I didn't get to feel the neck). I paid about double that which I was comfortable with thanks to a poor exchange rate and customs charges. It could have been the worst financial decision that I have ever made. I could have bought a pretty functional automobile.
And I couldn't be more pleased.
It's a Les Paul Junior, a Gretsch, a Firebird, and a bass boat. It's a Kauer.
It's perfect, and my experience with Kauer was lovely.

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Larsongs
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Re: Experiences with Boutique Builds?

Post by Larsongs » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:08 pm

Jaguar018 wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:27 am
Larsongs wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 9:54 am
The problem I have is, what if I don't like it? Unlike a Fender, Gibsons etc. purchased from major Retailers there's no return or exchange..

You own it!
Most custom orders, like that "Larsongs Rulez" tshirt and sneakers you always wear are the same deal. You design something yourself and you are on the hook for it. If you're the kind of person that isn't willing to take that chance then yeah, don't order custom stuff built to your specs.

I have a boutique built guitar from Ron Kirn that I really like, but I wish I was a little more insistent on a few elements of it (I talked about it on some other thread and Ron Kirn popped in). I always got good updates and quick email responses.

The thing that I find weird about custom boutique builds is sometimes the person making the order (me) doesn't really know or potentially understand what they want. I wanted a Firebird/Jaguar combination that would sound just like a Jaguar, but I didn't insist on the 24" scale because at the time I didn't realize just how much of a KEY factor that was. Lesson learned, but to Larsongs' point/concern, that was an expensive lesson.

Some of the custom builds I see on forums where people want their favorite elements of guitar 1 plus guitar 2... it's a roll of the dice. Are all the flavors of your ideas going to combine into something that sounds the way you want? How familiar are you with those cool pickups you always coveted, or that particular wood?

I STILL think it can be worth it if you don't have any great expectations of resale value. It's the same as most boutique builds with cars coming to mind: If you think your one-off unique idea is going to sell for as much as you're putting into it, you are probably wrong. If your custom build has all the cool ideas you came up with and the builder was cool throughout the process then, ideally, you'll be happy with the end result.

Boutique builds of bog-standard teles or strats is decidedly less risky-- and more dull-- for my tastes. Having said that, I've lusted after many a boutique tele and strat-- but I think the smarter move here is to just get them used because a good percentage of those kinds of builds will be a deal.

Edit: I also have a Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt Jaguar. Somewhat less risky, somewhat less 'boutique' depending on your definition of such things. That was a great experience. When the guitar first showed up it wasn't love at first strum. It looked super cool, but it didn't sound quite as 'alive' as the other Jags I had at the time. HOWEVER, I stuck with it. Broke the guitar in. Played with it a lot. After a year or so, I realized it was my favorite guitar, and it has remained that for more than twelve years now. It's getting better with age. I suspect that a lot of used Fender Custom Shop guitars are some of the best deals out there and the original owners didn't take the time to let them settle in (like we're all supposed to do with amps).
Great points. I agree, much of the time it's a crap shoot.. You think all the different components are gonna combine into amazing Classic! After you plunk out your $3-$4000 or more you'll like say you love it, even if you really can't stand it, because you spent all that money on it... Could end up a complete Turd!

I saw some Boutique monstrosities at NAMM! Some were plain weird! And some Beauties too....

Still, I'm sure there are guys who know exactly what they want & they come out great too...

I will probably never build another Car... There are a zillion amazing Customs, Classics, Rods, Muscle Cars etc. Most of them resell for 50 cents on the Dollar what they cost to buy & build.

I like the idea of Larsongs Rulez T Shirts! LOL

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windmill
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Re: Experiences with Boutique Builds?

Post by windmill » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:06 am

Depends on if the OP is looking at a standard model made by a boutique small builder or if they want a unique guitar built to their own specifications.

Have thought about a custom build and had a chat to a builder one time.

It taught me how much I didn't know about guitars.

The only thing I could be specific about was the neck width, depth, shape and scale length.

All the rest, tuners, fretboard, fret size, neck wood, heel, body timber , bridge, type of pickups, wiring, switching etc I had no clear idea of what I wanted let alone what type or brands are best for my purposes.

There are some things I don't want, but I just dont have enough knowledge of the variations and merits of all the other components to make sensible decisions.

Still think about it from time to time tho'

:)

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kaboodle45
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Re: Experiences with Boutique Builds?

Post by kaboodle45 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:28 am

wadeaminute wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:25 pm
I was at the tail end of negotiations with Doug Kauer to buy a stacked set of DRS racks (holding fourteen guitars). I said to him, via email, both -
"Now if the racks only came in green sparkle..."
and
"Love your guitars, by the way. Would love a one-pickup Banshee some day."
He got back to me saying that they had just painted a one-pickup / wraparound Banshee green sparkle the day before:
"Literally just finished the clear on this one yesterday."
One month later, it was done, and I bought it.

Image

They installed coil split and cocked wah slider switches for me before they sent it out.
It is the finest guitar that I have owned, and, according to a dear and experienced musician friend, "...it might be the finest electric guitar I've ever played?"
It weighs 6.3 pounds. It has a very deep and wide neck - which feels to me like a 1958 Les Paul (no shoulders). It has a single Power'Tron Plus pickup and the sexiest compensated wrap-around bridge. And the colour changes as you move from dark green to lime green to gold, all while having just a hint of red in it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGpSA1orN1w
So, I took a big risk buying from someone in California while in Toronto with no idea of the build quality (and most significantly - I didn't get to feel the neck). I paid about double that which I was comfortable with thanks to a poor exchange rate and customs charges. It could have been the worst financial decision that I have ever made. I could have bought a pretty functional automobile.
And I couldn't be more pleased.
It's a Les Paul Junior, a Gretsch, a Firebird, and a bass boat. It's a Kauer.
It's perfect, and my experience with Kauer was lovely.
that's gorgeous! glad it worked out for you

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bestevens
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Re: Experiences with Boutique Builds?

Post by bestevens » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:30 pm

Been playing about 35 years and have owned quite a few guitars. My Bilt is the best guitar I have ever owned. My vintage Fenders collect dust while I play it. They were super easy to deal with and I got just want I wanted. I got it 8 years ago and it has been my #1 since. I (personally) have never played a Jazzmaster that I liked as much.

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jc808
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Re: Experiences with Boutique Builds?

Post by jc808 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:56 am

I have an MJT Jazzmaster, and a "boutique" Jaguar from a builder that no one has every heard of. They are both excellent guitars. Custom Shop quality for a fraction of the price.

I wouldn't have ventured down this path as a noob. It takes knowing exactly what you like (neck specs, weight, pickups, appointments, etc) so that you don't end up with someone else's idea of the perfect guitar.

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