So you want to order a custom-built guitar from the manufacturer of your choice (which surely means Electric Trees!). However you don't really know where to begin. Here are some basic questions you will need to answer before your journey can begin. These are not in any particular order, but each will have an impact upon the finished article.


Maybe the first question should be what shape you want the guitar. Do you want a shape already in existence: e.g. a variant on a Les Paul, an SG, a Stratocaster, a Telecaster; or one of the many other 'standard' or 'non-standard' shapes currently on the market? Or do you want to design your own? If the former, things are relatively straightforward, as most of the drawbacks to these styles are known. If the latter, there may be unthought-of difficulties. For example, you may find you have problems with weight, or weight distribution. Or the style may be uncomfortable to play when standing, or when sitting down: Gibson SGs have reputation for being neck-heavy, with the neck wanting to drop unless held in place, whereas Fender Telecasters do not have any of the contours of the later Fender Stratocaster to provide comfort for the player.


Some of the problems due to shape may be solved by the choice of woods. A guitar which may be neck-heavy with a light wood for the body may be better balanced if the body is made out of a heavier wood. But this may then make the whole guitar too heavy. Or maybe you want a specific wood for the grain pattern on the finished guitar. If the aim is an acoustic guitar, then the choice of wood will also determine the sound of the guitar.


However, if it is an electric or semi-acoustic you will need to think about which pickups to use. These now range from low-output passive to high-output active pickups and anything in between. These will be the determining factor in how the guitar sounds. Will you be playing jazz? Funk? Reggae? Classic Rock? Heavy metal? Your style of play may determine which pickups you want in the guitar.

Scale length and number of frets and strings

Your style of music may also affect how many frets you want and the scale length (the distance between the nut and the bridge) of your guitar. Heavy metal? Maybe a 24-fret guitar with a 25" scale so you can go play higher notes. And how many strings? 6 is normal, but 7- and 8-string guitars can be made for that lower 'growl' sometimes heard in heavy metal songs. Jazz? Maybe a 23½" scale length with 21 frets. Or a more standard 24¾" scale length with 21 or 22 frets. Or what about a baritone guitar, or a12-string?

The permutations are vast, and the choice is completely up to you. So start thinking now.