It's been a little too long since we've shared what we're up to and for that, we apologize. Now that things are stabilizing a bit and we're able to fall a little more into a routine, we can be a bit more consistent with our blog posts.
We are currently putting the finishing touches on a small batch of custom Jazzmaster clones for three awesome customers who just so happened to all want their own version of the Fender classic at the exact same time. It was an odd coincidence. We will have some amazing pictures once they're 100% complete, but in the meantime you can see teasers on our Instagram of all three in various stages of completion.
These three guitars will probably be the last clones we make for a while. It's been a long time of making reproductions and tributes of other people's designs and frankly, I'm ready to create original material, to wit: the 6 new designs that are currently hanging up as technical drawings on the walls of the Artifact workshop.
These new designs are not just new in the sense that they are some vague copy of a Fender with a slightly different body shape or electronics layout. They are actually new in the design of their joinery and hardware. I've been working for some time on two new bridge designs and a neck joint that will overcome the challenges and shortcomings of existing guitar joinery. I know that's a rather bold statement with all of the wonderful vintage and boutique instruments in the world, but after nearly 20 years of working on guitars I've noticed a theme in what tends to go wrong.
To that end I believe I've come up with a joint that solves the structural issues while maintaining the nostalgic appeal of the atomic-era classics. I've always thought it was a shame that better designs tend to be ignored because they lack a classic look. Metal guitarists and bassists tend to be more adventurous, but I don't build with them in mind. So I've spent some time and experimentation trying to come up with something that I'd want to play, since I'm one of those not-so-adveturious types as well. Unfortunately I can't go into detail about the joint in this blog post since I'm still sorting it all out. It may be eligible for a patent, so I don't want to risk giving away the IP just yet.
In addition to the new design aspect we've also been hard at work trying to source good suppliers of very specific, specialty woods. I made the decision to switch to only quatersawn woods for my necks a few years ago and now I've added a little more difficulty and expense by moving solely to roasted, quatersawn necks. Finding a good supplier was a nightmare, but I think we've zeroed in on one.
For the bodies I wanted lightweight and resonant. If I could get that with torrefied woods or old-growth, either way I'd be happy. As of this blog post it looks as though I'll have both roasted and old-growth which makes my life that much easier.
As for the new bridge designs, I've been toiling over these for a few years. My machining skills leave a little to be desired, but I've found a machinist with a saintly amount of patience who has agreed to help me with my designs. These new designs focus on increasing the fundamental and sustain of the note. Since bolt-ons tend to be naturally strong in the harmonic, I thought increasing the fundamental would give a more balanced and resonant instrument. The trick is not making it look too new. As I stated before, that fastest way for a product to bomb with the majority of guitar players is for it to look too new and futuristic. You gotta sneak it in there by making it look like it was invented in 1956. Unfortunately I can't show these designs either since they are almost certainly eligible for a patent.
And last but not least; the school is up and the schedule is posted. We came up with a curriculum that covers the majority of common repairs. We wanted to keep things simple and keep the schedule within the realm of possibility for the grownups with jobs. The classes are short and cheap and few of the classes even come with the same high quality tools we use everyday to fix your lovely instruments. It's a great way to get a better understanding of the guitar and save yourself time and money by being able to service your own gear. Please check out the section about the school on our website.
So again, sorry for the long time with no news. We'll get better at that, I promise. I'll leave you with a look at the new Artifact headstock. I spent some time coming up with it, so I hope you enjoy.