Handmade Guitars

Handmade Guitars

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What Does Hand-Made Really Mean ??

Hand-Made is a much abused term!!!

Is a guitar really handmade if its made by 100 pairs of hands aided by several million dollars worth of machines? (Like Gibson or Taylor)

I prefer to think that the term handmade should only apply to a situation where there are a very small number of hands under the direct supervision of one master luthier.  (Like Rick Gledura,)

The use of some power tools does not detract as long as one or two men guide the entire process, from initial guitar design, through wood selection, carving, fretting, finishing, final assembly & setup.

These guitars must each be treated individually as unique work. Mass produced guitars suffer from the natural variances involved in the marriage of the different woods used.

Handmade guitars produced under the close scrutiny of one master luthier, can easily overcome these variances through careful selection and tuning of all the parts. This process effectively creates a unique quality and a vast improvement on the product especially where tone is a major concern.

Ed Roman,


Rick proudly exhibits one of his handmade hand carved models

Rick sets each fret in each handmade guitar personally

These photos were taken at the PRS factory
You are looking at a CNC Machine !!!

Computer Numerically Controlled

All of the delicate cutting operations are done by an $85,000.00 machine. All of the shaping, sanding, binding & fitting is robotically accomplished. There are no human hands, no human eyes to line up the wood perfectly so that imperfections in the wood fall into locations that won't be seen later. There is nothing illegal about building a guitar with a machine.  

I feel, it's totally unethical & immoral to charge the extremely high handmade prices, just because you made your original reputation by building handmade guitars.

Most every large company is guilty of this, I can think of very few large companies who still actually handbuild their guitars.

BC Rich USA,  Jackson Custom Shop, & maybe the PRS private stock guitars are semi hand built. These are all I can think of off the top of my head.  I repeat, There is nothing wrong with CNC made guitars except that they are usually overpriced and under built.

They generally lack a certain vibe, soul or character that can only be achieved from a hand built guitar.

Not everyone can necessarily benefit from these detailed characteristics, So that's why a custom made hand built guitar isn't for everyone.  I always recommend a mid priced machine made Fender, Jackson, Dean, OLP, Hamer, or Ibanez for a beginner or for the working musician who needs a good guitar.

A custom made guitar is not for everyone. When and if, you finally decide to get a custom made instrument, you cross the threshold between good & great. Today a machine made guitar is considered a tool and a handmade one is potentially an heirloom or an investment guitar.

The worst offenders that I can think of is ESP, Lakland, Gibson & Taylor.  Many people assume that these companies are hand building.  The ESP guitars are totally machine made in Asia and priced incredibly high. The Lakland company offer a USA made and an Asian made model, Both are so unbelievably overpriced that It should be a crime. Gibson guitars are well known for being overpriced by everyone but I feel that their machine made guitars are overpriced so much that even if they were handmade they are still incredibly overpriced.  In the case of Taylor, they are also machine made and if you pay attention to their ridiculous image based advertising campaign you might think they were handmade.   NOT!!!!!!

PRS on the other hand has publicly stated that they are %100 machine made. (Kudos For Honesty) Up until a couple of years ago they actually used to be proud of it, They even boasted about it. Today the consumer isn't as stupid as they used to be, thanks to people who print these little exposé's on their websites.

Today PRS doesn't call too much attention to it and in their last catalog they show numerous photos of craftsmen actually carving guitars. I presume those guitars are their private stock models, I know they are not the models you will see when you walk into a Guitar Center or Best Buy or any corporate superstore.

Tom Anderson says he builds three guitars a day, that may be 100% true. Or is this just a clever way to possibly make the consumer think they are handmade. Because Tom has CNC machinery and if he wanted to he could produce many more guitars a day.

This whole article was prompted by a customer who attempted to trade in a plain black blah looking Sadowsky NYC Bass earlier today. 

I offered the customer what I considered to be a very generous trade in, I actually offered him way too much by my standard, $2,000.00 because I had heard that these basses were pretty good. (In fact they are quite good the same as many of the guitars listed above)

When he told me he wanted $3,500.00 for the bass I was appalled. This instrument is made from parts & constructed almost exactly like a Fender. The customer went on to tell me that the electronics were amazing. I played the bass, I had to agree the electronics were great. However I know that once an electronic circuit is designed you can copy it exactly for less than $10.00 each. I also like the way the bass played & felt. I just could not wrap myself around the price.

I did about 15 minutes of research and I was able to determine who builds the bodies, necks, bridge, tuners & pickups.  My own production made machine made low cost "Lowrider model bass can be bought brand new for about $2,500.00 cheaper. Coincidentally the components are all exactly the same, (With exception of his proprietary electronic circuit)

Now I'm not claiming my bass is better, I'm not claiming anything. I'm just trying to make a point about overpricing.... (You No Longer Get What You Pay For !!! & That's A Cold Hard Fact)

We have in our inventory  at least 2 Fender Basses with Sadowsky's $250.00 electronics built in should we charge $250.00 more or should we charge $2,500.00 more  (Think about it)

Ed Roman


 More Deprogramming From Ed Roman
Please read what I have written below with an open mind  !!!

There Are Two Major Cliché's That Are No Longer True In The Guitar Business !!!


1.  You Get What You Pay For!!!!

It's painfully obvious to anyone who is not intellectually challenged,

Many large corporations  use this tired old cliché to their financial advantage.

They are constantly pricing cheaply made mass produced cookie cutter guitars at extremely ridiculous high prices, so that consumers will think they are actually handmade well built instruments.

I first learned this fact back in 1991, when I was employed by Gibson Guitars. The CEO of Gibson, Henry Juszkiewicz made this statement to me.

"The Higher The Price The Better The Guitar,"      "Or That Will Be The Perception." 

This may have backfired a little on him, due to the fact that this artificial perception, coupled with the fact that production made guitars are now so incredibly expensive, This has made it possible for custom builders like, Myself, JET    Rick Turner,  Joe Veillette,  &  Dingwall to compete pricewise with them.

The price on Gibson guitars today is almost a criminal offense.

Simply because many intelligent people, would rather have a custom guitar. Especially if they could buy it for the same price or less than a machine made production instrument.

Here is something everyone knows about Gibson but many people don't seem to care!!
Click Here


2.  It's Just Too Good To Be True!!!!

That's another Bulls&%t Cliché, "The Man" & all the Large Corporations  & slimy advertising people want to instill in your mind.

Don't you believe that for even one second !!!!!!!!

There are plenty of great deals out there!!  Currently 10/08 you can buy fully American made Charvel Guitars with a Real Floyd Rose & Duncan Pickups, They are Super Strats & Tele's with some really cool colors!!! They play and sound great. 
I believe they are better made and nicer than the EVH art series guitars they put out in 2006, The necks feel better, the balance is improved.  $999.00 is the street price and if you shop you can get some of them down in the mid $800.00 range!!   What A Great Deal !!!  

Guitar Center & Sam Ash cannot get them only independent small dealers.

If you go to Guitar Center and ask for one they will probably tell you, "It's just too good to be true"

Like I said above!!!

Don't you believe that for even one second !!!!!!!!

I have them in stock and I guarantee I will give the best price you will find !!!!!

Ed Roman


A tribe isn't a tribe unless it has one chief & many Indians. 

The chief is nothing without Indians!!

The question you must ask yourself your whole life is   " Am I A Chief,    Or Am I An Indian"

The Indian will believe the old "It's too good to be true" adage & go back to smoking his peace pipe. The Chief will just go for it  There lies the inherent difference.

Some people play original music, They are known as innovators, Some people play only cover tunes, In Vegas they are known as Lounge Bands.  (Or Lounge Lizards).

Now that doesn't make these people bad people, But it doesn't make them Chief's either !!!!

Ed Roman


Monkey See Monkey Do

The monkey will play the same guitar as all the other monkeys will.


These are Quicksilver Handmade bodies. If you look closely you will see minor differences in the carving. 

Most Quicksilver bodies are hand carved by Ron, Vern or Brent in our custom shop.

Floyd Rose & Corporate Guitars   "Read This Very Carefully"

Most people know that you can buy a Floyd Rose Tremolo from many different companies and usually it will say something like (Licensed Floyd Rose) or (Manufactured Under Floyd Rose Patents)  etc etc

Many people who think they are in the know, look for (Original Floyd Rose) or (Floyd Rose Original)

What most people don't know is that Floyd Rose himself now has several less expensive models available to compete directly with the people who offer the licensed ones. My research has shown me that the ones Floyd has put out under his own name as originals are better then any licensed one I have seen.

What you must look for is Floyd Rose Original "GERMAN MADE"  Corporate guitar companies like ESP, Washburn, Carvin, Fender, Jackson, Gibson, New Kramers, Charvel, BC Rich, etc etc are using one that costs less than half of what the original German made one costs. It is almost impossible to tell the differences because they are intentionally very subtle.

I am given to understand that even the new Van Halen Tremolo that hasn't even been released yet is one of the middle grade models (To me that's unbelievable). Although Ernie Ball & Peavey both used a licensed one on their Van Halen guitars.  Rest assured Ed Roman won't be offering the low end or mid grade models on any guitar bearing the Ed Roman name !!!!!