Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Taking a little more time

The Green Machine in its original state
So I have decided to re-fret 'The Green Machine' SB3 00007 I don't know that this warrants a full blog post but I had been apprehensive about selling this guitar for a while, for a few reasons; I had an idea about making a sister model using the other five piece neck we had in stock (which is now well underway) and using them as demo models, the sister being the modern two pickup, and 00007 being the more traditional styled guitar. The problem I had more over is that the guitar never played as nicely as I would like, I ended up spending a long time re-leveling the frets and such, to no great success. After some more tweaking, I managed to get the guitar playing smoothly although by this time it was clear that the fretboard was not level and to compensate I had taken off a fair bit of the frets. My fret ends also needed re-doing (sometimes with new guitars, the wood shrinks and moves a little which can mean occasionally needing to redress or re-roll the fret ends). Insight of this, I thought that stripping the fretboard, re-leveling and re-fretting with our new 3mm fretwire would be

Decided to thin the neck while re-fretting

I don't really want to blog about how I am doing this (although I will upload a video of the re-fret to my YouTube channel) as it is not the point of this post. I guess the point I'm getting at and it is something I have been working on in my personal growth as a guitar builder for a while; taking my time. It seems basic I know, but whenever I have had a project I deeply cared for, it has always been a problem for me to not rush the project, and worse yet, when a project is done, I need to take my time to properly revisit problems, in the long run it's usually quicker.

Further more this has got me thinking about direction, it has always been my plan to grow SBC in to a self-sufficient company, more over, I would love to grow SBC in to my only job. But this gives me a problem with direction. We have started batch producing guitars (or rather Hob's has, while I work on the customs and business stuff) to help us up production and keep end costs down.

But we find ourselves at a fork. We are very reasonable for handmade guitars (don't believe me, check out our SB3 pricing guide) but sadly, this competitive pricing is based on getting ourselves known, which kind of leads me to the ultimate point. I've never wanted SBC guitars to be in the 3-4k plus market, preferring to stay more accessible, without compromising quality. but that is hard to afford to offer in the UK, without living off of beans and mouldy bread at least, so...

Do we;

1, Look at something like the Chapman Guitars business model, UK designed but not built. This would probably mean some fairly terrifying business loans, or selling our designs to someone, but this would keep us to a similar mark-up, albeit, customs which we so enjoy would probably be out of the window.

2, We find a UK business partner to make the rough bodies, and we continue with the customs, and put together the batched guitars. I like this idea, and I think I  am leaning towards it. My worry is that this may compromise quality on some of the lower end models, without someone who knows what to look for in the wood, when making the blanks.

3, We keep doing what we do, but we dramatically up our price. Yep. Its a completely hypocritical thing to do, in mind of where we started the conversation on affordability. But in terms of accuracy, and taking our time to produce great guitars it makes sense. This works well for many great UK builders, but the problem with this is SB3. We realized something, our core concept for SB3 has shifted in its development. We realized recently that SB3 is not just a aesthetically tweaked Tele, but an ergonomically updated workhorse guitar with modern engineered parts for session musicians, touring artists and all round passionate guitarists, with an emphasis on comfort/playabilty, reliability, and versatility (and sound, although I would class that a s part of the versatility). It is the sort of guitar a working musician may invest 1-2k on, particularly if it can be provided to his spec (or a passionate player may splurge out on) but it is not (in my opinion) a 3-4k plus guitar (although, I don't believe there are many guitars truly worth this, save for maybe Strandberg and a handful of other fantastic builders) and was never designed to be manufactured as such.

Ultimately, I think we will head somewhere between 2 and 3. This realisation has completely up-ended my business plan.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

New Job, New Home, New Outlook

Okay, I've not been great about updating this blog. But a lot has happened in this last year or so, so here is a quick post to bring us all up to date.

It's a beautiful day, I'm now on the property ladder (though still in my old workshop) I'm itching to get in to the garage, a feeling that escaped me for a while.

Some of my newer SB3's
That last post was written about mid 2015 but never posted, because I'm a bad person. I have made several guitars since, including my first left handed SB3 Junior custom, and a highly detailed SB3. I have sold a couple of guitars and I have a few up for sale in a local guitar shop that I cannot recommend enough Electro Hill,  as B-stock guitars. The owner Richard, is a fantastically knowledgeable guy and also, I'm told, a great guitar tech, well worth the pilgrimage for any enthusiast!

Left handed, custom SB3
The body wings are tulip
I have a new an exciting custom build in the making, (details to follow) and I am working on my new model (2016) SB3 body shape. My original idea for last year was to have two body shapes, the one shown on the previous post and the junior (see the lefty SB3) which is an update of the original 2012 body (see the bound body SB3). But the bigger 2015 body shape with the back contours has proved  not overly popular, so I have decided to offer one body shape with room for multiple pickups, 24 frets and all the best ergonomic and aesthetic features of the previous models. Progress!

I think the biggest change so far is me. I have had several job changes, I am currently working freelance as a interior design contractor and promoting SBC, I am so much poorer but also much, much happier, working for myself and doing things I love!
My latest SB3 this is the 2012 body shape
I'm not really sure how to approach this as I don't want to cause any offense of anyone who may read this, but I realized while working in a previous job that I was suffering from depression. Everything felt like it was going to explode, I loved the work and the challenge of finding manufacturing and engineering solutions but the environment was toxic and damn near hard to work in, despite some amazing people. I left that job by choice with nothing to go to, it was a scary time, but I started building guitars while on gardening leave. It was amazing, I became quite prolific!
I nicknamed this guitar 'The Sex'
I was then approached about some contract work on a self-employed basis, which I do about 3 - 5 days a week, giving me time to work on SBC
 and I have never looked back!

Will I succeed? I hope so, but if I don't will I get back up and try again? Damn right I will. I'd rather live life as a failure than never tried at all.

SB3 Junior 2; Sentiment is a bitch.

SB3 Junior 2;
Sentiment is a bitch. 

The yew is from my grandads reclaimed stock, so is aged beautifully but has many defects, impart due to being stored poorly for nearly 30 years. This is likely the last guitar I will make featuring a yew neck, due to its complications but it serves as a good homage to the man who built my childhood home and much of the furnature I grew up with, who shaped my life so much with out us ever meeting. I don't know if I will sell this guitar, but either way, I am very happy I made it.