These are the questions I asked myself before making my first guitar.
- Why do I need another Guitar? The main reason was that I wanted one that did everything I needed .i.e Was comfortable while playing stood up. Wider fingerboard for my fingerstyle playing, steel or nylon string (Although a standard classical guitar fingerboard was too flat and wide for me). A bright but deep tone and balanced strings, not one louder than another.
- Why make a Guitar? I could not find any make or model with the specifications I required without it costing an arm and a leg or having a custom made one. I was limited to what I could spend.
- What type of Guitar should I make? Due to a few years of painful skin condition on my hands, I opted for a nylon string acoustic for me and a steel string one just to see how it turned out.
- How much was it going to cost? I didn't want to spend a fortune only to find that it turned out wrong. So my very first attempt was made using scrap wood from the car boot market. Other attempts I used good quality woods but also found "tone woods" at car boot sales.
- What would I need to make it? I already had some tools so bought other useful tools from the car boot. Some power tools from cheaper suppliers, but turned out to be good quality. Then started building up gear as and when. The main problem was finding somewhere to work. So I joined the "Men with Sheds" group.
Starting in 2010 I made 1 electric guitar using a couple of pieces of matured mahogany (over 400 years old). The end result was a fantastic sounding and easy playable guitar for Matty Rhys Barras (MRB Model). This inspired me to carry on having a go at making guitars.
2011 - The next was an acoustic ( car boot materials costing £6). Using mainly oak for the neck, bridge, tailpiece, struts and edging. I used thin ply for the body and sides. Cut out an oak leaf and acorns top upper bout, instead of a sound hole. The sound was interesting! , a cross between an old pre war guitar and a dobro steel body. However the guitar was very loud, which I took for the fact it was made mainly of hard wood. Not quite as playable as I would have liked but great for heavy loud rhythm chords. For my first acoustic I was pleased with myself. It was a nightmare trying to bend the sides but managed it soaking the sides in a bath for three days. I now use a steam box and press, a lot easier
2012 - Reading a lot about making guitars and watching luthiers on the Internet led me to trying another one. This was going to be a nylon acoustic stage guitar (more about that later). I wanted a guitar I could play well stood up, so needed a thinner body. Neck that was comfortable to play, good amplified sound, but also a good acoustic sound. After a little thought and reading a lot on making guitars , finally came up with a Mondave Guitars acoustic standard. This did exactly what i was after. I only let it down with the finish which was awful. I then bit the bullet and offered to make a custom guitar for singer / songwriter Molly Curtis.
2013 - With the help of Molly Curtis in the design stages, proceeded to make her custom guitar. Incorporating Mondave Guitars innovations and fitting the neck to her left hand. Three months later ended up with a great sounding, playable and comfortable custom guitar. The first time I heard it, I was blown away. Just couldn't believe I had made a guitar that played and sounded that good. The materials used were top grade cedar and mahogany, and using tulip/ poplar wood for the neck. I know part of the sound of the guitar owes it to the new Ernie Ball Aluminium Bronze strings fitted. A clear, bright, loud, balanced, easy playable guitar.
2014 - Now using the Molly Curtis model template. Made a custom model for Matty Rhys Barras. This time using mahogany for the neck, spruce for the top, mahogany for the back and sides. Neck profiled exactly as the electric MRB model so there is no adjustment in playing when switching between guitars. The end result was a little different in sound due to the different combination of woods, between the original MC model and the now MRBa model.
2015 - More models getting to many to mention here. Check the custom guitar page.
More models and experimental guitars each year.
Q:-Why do you want a custom guitar.
A:- I want it to sound and play the best for me, and look like it belongs to only me. Not a tarted up standard.
Every Custom Mondave Guitar is a "one off" all customers specifications are taken into account.