A lot of the local guitar stores where we used to hang out and try cool guitars may have been bought out and closed up, but the spirit and excitement of the guitar industry is still alive and well, hidden in small warehouses and garages, being exposed through social media snapshots and word of mouth.
For small-sized shops, independent luthiers, and those who are building guitars for their own collection, it is a great time to be alive. With access to all kinds of supplies, tools, and information right at our fingertips, the ability to create amazing guitars is on overdrive.
I remember when I was young, searching the used section in the local guitar store for my first guitar. Not only did I have a limited budget, but the options were limited too. You can't blame the store for not being able to stock every single finish, especially in the used section, but as a young kid having a guitar that looked a certain way really mattered to me, and in the end I had to settle for something that wasn't “as cool” as the one I really wanted.
Now that I have become wiser than my younger self (hopefully), I have learned that looking cool doesn’t matter nearly as much as playing well, and that black paint or red paint doesn't change the way I hit a G-chord. But even despite this, I have found that I do still seem to enjoy playing more when the guitar looks the way I like it -- and often wonder what kind of guitar I may have built if I had access to the guitar building resources that are available today.
Professional luthiers are reaping the benefits of more advanced equipment and technology, turning their small guitar shops into top-of-the-world-quality productions with enough custom options in wood type, metal type, and design to make your brain explode. I could sit on Instagram all day and look through some of the custom guitars people are making today, truly amazing work.
So while the big box guitar store experience may be painting the industry bleak... on the other side of the fence is a new breed of manufacturers, consisting of amazing up-and-coming boutique guitar shops, and talented independent builders, who are evolving the future of guitars into something new.
These are some thoughts I have been having and wanting to share. With access to more parts and tutorials than we can handle, it has never been a better time to build a guitar.
In parting I will leave a few questions that these thoughts stir up, please let me know what you think and thanks for reading!
Is guitar building getting easier?
Are small shops the innovators of guitar?
If you could have built your own guitar as your first one, what would it be?
Post your comments below !