Ordering and Warranty Information
I offer two payment plans. Option 1 divides the total cost into 5 equal payments. Option 2, for more expedited service, requires a deposit of 50% (60% for certain unique design elements and parts) of the total cost of the instrument. The remainder is due upon completion of the instrument. If you are dissatisfied with the instrument for some reason, all attempts to remedy the situation are unsuccessful, and the instrument is fairly standard, your payment will be refunded in full. If the instrument's customization might limit its appeal to other customers, refunds will be held until I can sell the instrument to someone else.
All Lanxton Custom Guitars are warrantied for life to the original purchaser against defects in materials and workmanship. This does not include wear on consumables (strings, frets, tuners, etc.), normal wear and tear (dings, chips, gouges, scratches, etc.) and defects caused by abuse, such as exposure to extremes of climate, impact damage, or improper storage. All covered repairs will be done free of charge. Repairs by unapproved repair personnel may also void the warranty. I reserve the right to determine if the instrument has been abused or mishandled in any way which would result in the warranty being voided.
Why should I buy a guitar from you?
I collaborate with you to design a unique, one-of-a-kind guitar that will be custom-built to your exact specifications. I build guitars one at a time, so you can get exactly what you want and know that it is made using the best parts and with the utmost attention to detail and quality. And because I’m a nice guy…..
How much do your guitars cost?
Standard pricing on built-to-order guitars is not possible. Please contact me to discuss what you’re looking for and I’ll quote you a price. For example, a basic T-style starts at around $1,500 while S-styles start at around $1,600. Wood, finish, labor required and pickup choices can add to the cost. Otherwise, the price is driven by the parts you select, the appointments you choose, and the complexity of the build and finish. Most end up in the $1,700 - $2,200 range.
How long is the wait if I order a guitar from you?
About 3-4 months, depending on backlog and finish options. That includes a lot of waiting - on parts to arrive, on finishes to cure, on the neck to settle in during setup, and on the UPS driver to show up at your door.
Do you make the guitars or just buy the parts and assemble them?
I make'em. There are certain parts that I cannot make - the hardware, for instance. But the body, neck, pickups, and some pickguards I make myself. That said, there are times when sourcing elsewhere makes more sense. My guitar bodies and necks start as raw lumber. I cut the bodies, necks, and fretboards, thickness plane them, shape them and rout the body cavities, radius the fretboards, cut fret slots and install the frets, then hand-shape the neck using rasps, files, scrapers, and sandpaper. Tedious work but neck carving is, by far, my favorite and the most rewarding part of building. However, shaping a neck is the most time consuming part of the build. If you want a handcrafted neck, I'll be glad to make one. I also source them from a strategic partner - one who makes necks all day, every day, so the quality is impeccable. I also cut many of my own pickguards and wind my own pickups. However, I work closely with some of the best boutique pickup builders in the world and I'm glad to make suggestions. There are certain finishes that I outsource - like sparkle paint jobs. So, my guitars really are "handmade" from scratch.
The fact is, more care is put into ensuring the quality of Custom built instruments and more devotion is put into agonizing over minutia, which ensures that the details that most people take for granted have been vetted and looked at from every angle. All of this thought, consideration, and hand-wringing adds up to better guitars.
Will you build me a guitar and put the Fender logo on the headstock?
Nope, don't even ask. Ain't gonna happen - ever. If you want a Fender, please contact a Fender dealer and enjoy.
Can you customize the guitar with my name on the back of the headstock?
Absolutely! Just ask how.
Nitrocellulose or Poly finishes?
Both, actually. There are advantages to both. Nitro provides an excellent finish, is more vintage correct, and ages well. However, some finishes require poly and some people like poly. If you want a relic finish, it has to be nitro - poly does not relic well. I also use oil, which makes for a super slick neck finish.
From whom do you buy your materials and parts?
There are too many to name but I’m happy to share any information with you - just ask. See the list of friends below that includes some of my favorite suppliers. But, I’m happy to use whatever you want.
Do expensive parts result in better sound?
There is endless debate as to the effects that various components have on sound. In my opinion, some components have the ability to alter the guitar’s voice more than others. While it is difficult for many to distinguish a difference when changing out components, some people can immediately hear the difference in subtle changes - between brass saddles versus steel, bone nuts versus plastic. Some say they are able to hear the difference between a $10 Fender Telecaster bridge plate and a $100 Rutters bridge, claiming the thicker Rutters plate sounds better and citing the transfer of vibration from string, to saddle, to bridge, to body, to pickups as the reason. Can I tell the difference between thin versus thick bridges? No, but I have a strong preference for Rutters bridges on my guitars versus the less expensive ones for other reasons. Sonically, there may be a difference. If the $10 bridge was tested against the $100 bridge, using scientific methods that include expensive, high-tech equipment and an anechoic sound chamber, we might be able to discern a difference. Oftentimes, people "hear" a difference because they want and expect to hear a difference - helps justify the change or incremental cost.
However, I can, with almost 100% certainty, guarantee that more expensive parts can result in better sound. Here's how: a guitar that inspires the player to pick it up more often, to practice more hours, and to experiment with their equipment more frequently will exponentially improve their playing. The more you play, the better you'll become and the better you'll sound. Guaranteed!
So, is TONE created by the parts on a guitar?
Honestly, I don't believe so. The "voice" of the guitar is created by the totality of the parts. Most - maybe not quite all - of your tone comes from your fingers and your playing style. Ever see someone play a guitar and it sounds bad, or maybe just ok? Then, a really good player picks up the same guitar and just makes it scream! And you quickly see it's the player, not the guitar. But, it's easier to get excited about playing when you have a great guitar. It's easier to play longer when you have a guitar that fits you and is properly set up. And, it's easier to get the sounds you want when your equipment is capable of a wider dynamic range.
When is comes to the debate about "tonewood" and electric guitars, I don't have a definitive answer. But I do have an answer - from a Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), a world renowned research University. See my blog post entitled XXXXX.
I'm not trying to talk you out of buying a Custom guitar, but if you're a beginner with a crappy guitar and $1,500 burning a hole in your pocket, spend it on lessons before you spend it on another guitar. You'll be amazed.
What's all this talk about partscasters?
Partscasters are guitars assembled from parts made, and often finished, by others. While many individuals assemble their own guitars from parts made by others, so does Fender. The only difference is that FMIC paid Leo Fender for the use of his name, so over time we've been conditioned to believe there is something holistic about the “originals” and something less holy about the copies.
Leo Fender famously said, "It's just a hammer!" Since the beginning of time, he tried to find the cheapest, most efficient way to manufacture his products. They still do, much to the detriment of quality and for the sake of profitability. In the 1950’s, Leo Fender subcontracted out the making of some of his parts, just like FMIC does today. Not much has changed except who owns the patents and trademarks and the complexity of the machines that make the parts. When someone flips the switch on a CNC machine today, being a Fender employee, or an employee of a sub-contractor of Fender, does not improve the output of their CNC machine or create a better product. Similarly, someone using the same CNC machine somewhere else can make parts just as good, or better, and sell the parts to me.
Why couldn't I source the parts and build my own custom guitar?
You can! That’s how I got started. If you have the inclination, knock yourself out. All it takes is time, money, and some know-how. And it’s fun. But, be prepared for an expensive education and don’t expect professional results on the first build (or the second, third, or fourth builds). Building guitars is one part science, and more parts art. The latter takes a while to master. But, seriously, if you want to learn then I suggest jumping in with both feet and giving it a shot. I'm even happy to answer questions or give advice. There are a few great boutique builders that helped me get started and I'm happy to pay it forward.
How do your guitars compare to Custom Shop guitars?
Very favorably, actually – the Custom Shop guitars are almost as good as mine!
Why do Custom Shop guitars, like Fender’s, cost so much more than their standard production models?
That’s a good question with what, I think, is a simple answer: marketing. Let’s face it, Fender is in business for the exact same reason as most companies and that is to convert your money into theirs. That’s not a criticism, that’s what businesses do. I like Fender, for the most part, and have several of their guitars. But, the perception of higher-quality is created when, in fact, the differences may be only slight - vintage finish materials and actually performing a complete setup and paying attention to smaller details (all of that comes standard, at no additional cost, on my guitars). Couple that with a scarcity mentality created by short supply and you have people willing to spend more, a lot more. It's a simple marketing plan: create the illusion and desire for uniqueness, then price to resistance. As long as people are willing to spend $4,000 for a few hundred dollars worth of upgrades on a $1,200 guitar, the Custom Shop will keep makin 'em. I think Fender started it's Custom Shop and Masterbuilt series in order to compete with boutique builders like Suhr and Anderson, who were building higher quality guitars based on the established Fender designs. Some feel like they still fall short.
Ok, aside from hype, what’s the difference between Custom Shop guitars and the standard “off-the-rack” production models?
Primarily, the differences are:
- Parts – Generally the same, although CS guitars will sometimes include pickups not available to the public or on production models.
- Finish – CS guitars are usually finished in nitro versus polyurethane. However – back to the hype – few are finished in nitro in the same fashion as vintage guitars. Today’s “flash-coat lacquer” and “thin skin” finishes are nothing more than marketing hype. Many guitars are finished in poly and have a few coats of nitro sprayed on top so that, technically, they can market them as nitro finishes. Oh, and relicing – finish it real nice, then beat it up and charge more. I like relics but, please – they shouldn't cost THAT much more. Mine don't.
- Setup – If you play and compare standard production guitars to Custom Shop guitars, be it Fender or Gibson, you’ll immediately feel the difference. And that difference is attributable to setup. Guitars produced en-masse don’t get the same level of attention as the CS guitars. They can’t – mass production is all about managing costs and increasing output, not about making quality instruments.
How do your parts, finish, and setup compare to guitars built by the brand names?
To be fair, I have an advantage because my guitars are custom-built, one at a time. So, I have the luxury of being able to choose between any component available on the market, since I am not tied to large production runs, buying in bulk to support those runs, and managing inventory levels and the nightmare of having all of those SKU's.
- Parts – I use only the best available at all price levels – good, better, and best. You can choose whatever level of component quality you would like and mix and match. If you want less expensive tuners (not cheap, which implies low quality - in fact, I would argue the "best" tuners I use are also the least expensive) but top of the line bridge and saddles, we can do that.
- Finish – My guitars are finished using primarily nitrocellulose products. No fancy terms, no hype and spin – just nitro-based products protected by nitro clear coats.
- Setup – A true setup includes more than setting string height and intonation – although I would argue that mass produced models don’t even get that level of attention. It should also include filing the nut slots to the proper height, adjusting the truss rod to set neck relief, adjusting bridge float, and most importantly, a complete fret leveling, dressing, and polishing. Every neck – and I mean every single neck ever made – needs a full fret leveling. This is the key to eliminating fret buzz and will result in lower, more consistent action. This type of setup work could easily cost $250, or more, if performed by your neighborhood luthier, and is included on every guitar that I sell.
Your guitars are more expensive than the factory-produced originals. Why?
Quality costs more, more often than not. I don’t build guitars for the budget-minded. I build guitars for serious musicians, collectors, and guitar enthusiasts. If you’re just learning to play, I highly recommend some of the budget priced guitars at the local big box guitar store. If you have less than $1,000 to spend, buy a Fender or Epiphone – many people do and are perfectly happy (The Fender Classic Vibe is an incredible guitar for under $350 - the first time I played one, I thought it was head and shoulders above the $1,500 guitar hanging right next to it). There are those who would buy a $1,200 guitar, then spend $200 on a professional setup (which should include fret leveling!), $100 on better tuners, $60 getting a bone nut installed, $250 to change out the pickups – and while they’re changing the pickups they might as well replace those crappy pots, the switch, and capacitor and get that mint green pickguard they've always wanted. Pretty soon, they've sunk another $500-$600 into a guitar to get it just the way they want it…. but the neck still isn't the ideal shape and thickness. Could have ordered a Custom guitar and gotten exactly what you wanted for less. Just sayin'......
Why does my guitar setup change during the year?
Simply put, the weather can have a dramatic effect on your guitar's setup. During warmer weather, the neck relief lessens (neck bends backwards) and the frets will buzz because the strings have drawn closer to the neck. During the winter, the neck will shrink and the neck relief increases, meaning the strings are further away from the fretboard. Two-piece necks, like those with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard, tend to be less affected by seasonal weather change while one-piece necks may be more susceptible. Hint: learn to tweak the truss rod and you can easily fix these problems and save yourself some money.
Friends and Suppliers
Carlton McLendon Rare Woods And Veneers - rarewoodsandveneers.com
Peach State Lumber Products - peachstatelumber.com
Highland Woodworking - highlandwoodworking.com
USA Custom Guitars - usacustomguitars.com (Tommy is an awesome guy - I owe him a LOT!)
Mastery Bridge - masterybridge.com (Maker of the finest bridges and vibratos for offset guitars.)
Rutters Guitars - ruttersguitars.com (Mark is a gentleman and a real class act. His Telecaster saddles rock!)
Callaham Guitars - callahamguitars.com (THE BEST Strat style vintage bridges - ever.)
Glendale Guitars - glendaleguitars.com
Cavalier Pickups - cavalierpickups.com (Rob - great guy, taught me all I know about winding pickups!)
Don Mare Pickups - buckcannon.com (Don will spend time discussing your perfect pickup.)
Klein Pickups - kleinpickups.com
DAllen Pickups - dallenpickups.com
Bill Lawrence Pickups - wildepickups.com
J S Moore Pickups - tonefordays.com
Terrapin Guitars - terrapinguitars.com
Ron Kirn - ronkirn.com (Ron has always answered any build questions I've had - such a nice guy!)
Sam McPherson - sammcpherson.net (Sam is a wonderful guitar teacher and a great person!)
Ted Meisenheimer (Ted has provided invaluable woodworking tips and has sold me professional shop equipment at a fraction of the cost.)
Atlanta Vintage Guitars - atlantavintageguitars.com
Atlanta Discount Music - atlantadiscountmusic.com
Maple Street Guitars - maplestreetguitars.com
Andrews Amp Lab - andrewsamplab.com (I don't do amps - they do a fantastic job.)
TDPRI.com - tdpri.com (A great resource for all things Telecaster related.)
Fender, Stratocaster, Telecaster, Strat, and Tele are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. I am not affiliated with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) in any way.