Original Guitars: How We Build You the Perfect Custom Instrument

Posted on December 02 2022

Truly great guitars go far beyond replacing parts. Custom guitars made by high-end builders have never been so good in terms of guitar prices. With every piece handcrafted and inspected by experienced Master Luthiers here at Monty's Guitars, the difference in quality leads to a better guitar. Hand-tuned original guitars offer more to a musician because of their carefully handcrafted nature, and Monty's caters to vintage sound designed for the modern player. 

Professional musicians with a solid style choose hand-crafted custom guitars because they know what sound they want. Vintage guitar collectors who have expensive older guitars benefit from custom guitars made in the same manner, so they don't have to risk sky-high insurance when travelling. The guitarist who wants prestige and the best quality you can buy will seek an original guitar for the sheer quality and ease of customization. 

"I Want It Like…"

A custom guitar is a lifelong guitar built to your spec. The pinnacle of Monty's craftsmanship is our custom Montycasters. After a literal wealth of years working on guitars of all shapes and sizes, the best ones have stood out to us. The big and small details matter, from the wood it's made from to the capacitance of the wire. With parts sourced from the best suppliers in the UK and USA, we take pride in our custom guitars. From the point of order, the total build time is usually about five months. Prices for custom products start at £3,000, though it can vary depending on specs. When we say custom guitars, we mean "custom guitars made by someone who knows what they're doing." Monty's has a reputation for custom-built quality. We're here to build a custom guitar that fits your dreams.

There's something crazy intangible about playing the guitar that was custom-built by a luthier that loves their craft. That's without considering that Matt Gleeson, the head of Monty's Guitars, has been in this business for over 20 years. Mentored by Charlie Chandler, Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Allerton, and Paul Herman, Matt went on to craft a team of luthiers here at Monty's that love making and fixing guitars.

Handmade Means Quality Sound

Neck pockets, joints, tenons, and other hand-shaped guitar parts can lend to a unique sound. Neck shaping and body binding are carried out by hand to fit your needs. Our custom guitars are made of high-quality wood, components, and hardware. When you have dream specs in mind, off-the-rack instruments will always be a compromise. Even having just a plain workhorse custom guitar built puts the specs that count in your hands. We can drop in one of our specialty pickups, like the Retro Wind Firebird.

Think of what you want your custom-built guitar to do and what genres you wish to cover. If you aren't big on specs and want a killer-sounding guitar, Monty's Guitars are more than happy to guide you through that process too.

Tonewoods: Brighter, Fuller, or Darker?

One of the most significant factors in the tone you get out of your guitar is the choice of wood for the body, neck, and fretboard. Since wood is an organic material, it will change shape and density as it grows, developing deeper wood grains that change due to the tree's age. With this in mind, different woods have characteristics and imperfections that make them unique in their resonance. Denser woods have less space for sound to move around, allowing for quick attack and bright clarity. Less dense woods have more space in the grain, so the tonal sound has a darker resonance and increased sustain.

For example, alder tonewood is known for a blues/rock tone and has a full sound. The pronounced upper mids and well-rounded tone make it a versatile all-rounder tonewood. Basswood delivers a simple, transparent tone that shines with a good pair of humbuckers. The type of neck wood the custom guitar is built with impacts the sustain.

Mahogany is a highly resilient hardwood. Honduras mahogany is the most common type used for custom electric guitars but is much heavier than basswood. Mahogany has a warm, mellow tone, pronounced lower-mids, and a smooth, subdued higher end. Punchy rock music favours mahogany due to its punch growl. The reddish-orange colour and even grain make it look great with a translucent finish. At Monty's, we source the body and neck from the best suppliers in the industry to guarantee satisfaction.

Fretboard Woods

Brazilian rosewood is popular for fretboard wood because it doesn't stain or wear out like softer tonewoods. Tonally, rosewood compliments any instrument with rich warmth, evening out snappy frequencies for a smoother sound. Ebony is another staple fretboard wood choice. The dark appearance is recognizable and has a bright, consistent tone.

Custom guitar bodies and necks range from being made of a single piece of wood to being comprised of multiple tonewoods. While most guitarists prefer a single-piece body or neck on an original guitar, multi-piece necks are tight-bond glued to reinforce it. Either way, we'll help you find what fits you.

Relic Guitars

Original guitars have the option to have a more rustic finish. This ageing technique ranges from discoloration to aged hardware. Relic guitars built at Monty's means you can choose the degree of wear on top of the hardware. Details are fantastic, and since we work with several of the best spray shops in the country, we can offer almost any lacquered finish in any state of agedness. 

With how rare it is to find an aged production guitar, our custom guitars are your best bet at getting that perfect antique finish. Time has to be spent making a good relic guitar, and with an original guitar from Monty's, you get an aged guitar where the pickguard, the tuners, the back of the neck, everything is aged to perfection. A relic guitar already gives you that pre-played feeling, making it fit as if you've been playing it for years. Do yourself a favour and play a good aged relic guitar to see what we're talking about.

Pickups With History

Monty's began with pickups, and we have spent years recreating vintage pickups that have come through our shop for repair. Monty's Bethnal Green PAF Humbucker Set is one of our many vintage recreations of iconic guitar pickups. Peter Green's '59 Les Paul, known as Greenie, has a fat, throaty sound and is unlike any other guitar. Pickups, historically, came in all shapes and sizes, and our recreations of PAF awesomeness do fantastic, whether it's an original guitar or a recreation of an old vintage beauty.

When you build a custom guitar with Monty's, we bottle our vintage PAF magic, shake it up, and tune your guitar to reach the best sound possible. Building any bolt-on style guitar or bass in any configuration you want sounds like a dream come true, and we'll do it with any pickup, hardware, and woods you want.

Design Your Perfect-Looking Guitar

Inlays, paint finishes, and the colour of hardware are all things that should fit you aesthetically. Monty's custom guitars have fretboard inlay and body design options. Trapezoid and black inlays like on the Les Paul or ES-335 look fancy, and custom-made inlays can appear anywhere. Want a dragon? Get a dragon custom guitar. The sky's the limit when working with Monty's to build an original guitar. 

Custom comfort contours and reshaping the back of the neck are all options we do with our own hands. Monty's will refret your guitar with your choice of fret material and size. If you want a pickguard, we'll cut the pickguard in-house from the material you wish. As opposed to getting a mass-manufactured instrument, Monty's crafts your custom guitar to suit your needs down to the tiny details. Higher quality with greater attention to the finer details is what we aim for.

Finishing Colours

There are countless finishing colours you can choose from and different compound finishing types. The three most common—nitrocellulose, polyurethane, and polyester—have traits that can add or detract from a custom guitar's look. The least common by today's guitar manufacturers is polyester. Still, polyester's colour will remain bright and is resistant to scratching and checking if you want to keep that brand-new look. Though, there is some concern that polyester hurts the conic sound capabilities since it's got a thick coating. 

Nitrocellulose is the top choice among high-end and professional brands. Nitrocellulose has been a softer and thinner skinned finish used on guitars since the 1950s that allows the natural sonic resonance from the wood. For better or worse, this finish can crack more easily and check when temperature changes occur. Nitro is good for guitarists who like guitars that take on personality and character from years of use.

Last but not least, polyurethane became popular in the 1960s. Polyurethane dries quicker than nitro with a more even finish with just two coats. Polyurethane's glossy look outshines nitro but is more porous than polyester, allowing more of the wood's natural resonance to shine. The colours stay bright, and damage over the years is minimal with polyurethane. Poly guitar finishes are thicker with a glossier look and lessen the chance of wood expansion and contraction.

Inspiration To Play

If you've been out of playing for a while, it can be hard to find that passion for picking it up again. Building a custom guitar can reignite that passion. Having an original guitar made for you can drive that urge to play and get better, especially when you've spent years chasing that sound in your head. You know how you want to sound, and Monty's has spent years analysing every guitar we've repaired to understand why they sound the way they do. From careful measurements to the painstaking recreation of vintage pickups, we have a good idea of how to get you to the sound you want.

You're paying for quality, playability, and craftsmanship when buying a custom guitar. The quality and the way a custom guitar feels and plays will be different from a mass-manufactured guitar. A production model guitar doesn't usually have a 20-inch fretboard radius, but an original guitar can. After having a custom guitar, it's hard to go back to production line guitars. That is why getting an original guitar is a worthy investment.

About Monty's: Why Us?

Matt Gleeson, the head of the crew at Monty's Guitars, started luthier 20 years ago under the best in the UK. Pickups are the heart and soul of electric guitars, and that was what Monty's has focused on recreating. While we started as a general repair workshop, we've expanded to our vintage pickups and custom guitars because we're driven to make products that can be seen on stage and played. We've served great clients like Radiohead, Pete Townshend, Dave Gilmour, and more

When searching for that perfect custom guitar, you're also searching for a shop with a reputation for quality. Our Montycasters, the FrankenStrat and Lisa, make an impression. Tailoring your dream guitar to you is the whole point! Nothing is too small to consider because we know that the difference a custom guitar has is in all the quality details that elevate it above the rest. 

Made to Measure

Waiting for "the one" to appear when you've got dream specs can be impossible. Everything off-the-rack might be settling for a guitar that doesn't fit the sound you're chasing. With Monty's custom-built, original guitars, you don't have to settle. You're purchasing a life-long instrument that is unique to you. Even if you want to recreate a vintage guitar with your own tweaks, we can walk you through the process to achieve that dream without needing half a million lying around in a bank account. Custom guitars are an investment for your soul as a musician, focusing on a beautiful, handcrafted instrument you have dreamt about.

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