Today I am very pleased to say that I have six awesome responses to six scary (they’re not really) questions I put to the talented folks at Moniker Guitars. If you haven’t heard of Moniker Guitars then you’re either on the wrong website right now, have never read anything I’ve written here, never seen my Instagram posts or simply require some edumacation (real word). Never fear dear reader, I’m here for you.
Moniker Guitars simply make the greatest customised guitars this side of anything. Yes, anything. They made my Scarebear Reedsdale in 2013. I’m hoping they’ll one day make me another guitar. I probably need to talk to my wife about that at some stage. Who knows, they could make your next guitar. To help you find out out more about them and their skills, read on as Kevin Tully from Moniker Guitars provides answers.
You may just enjoy yourself.
Six scary questions
- When starting Moniker Guitars back in 2011, did you have any idea how many people would be interested in their own custom guitar?
When considering whether to start the company, we knew that guitar players were creative people and we hoped that would translate into them wanting to design their favorite instrument, but it’s always wise to do some market testing. We set up a booth at a SXSW showcase here in Austin with our friends from Paper Garden Records who were putting on a showcase. We had a very crude version of the website which was basically just a Photoshop file loaded up with guitar parts and two body shapes. We used the opportunity to talk to guitar players about the idea for custom guitars designed online and the the response was positive.
- Since starting out, you’ve managed to not only allow for custom paint and design, but you’ve also allowed for custom components (such as custom truss rod covers and custom scratch plates). What have been some of your favourite customer component requests?
My favorite requests typically have to do with custom wiring. Wiring is something that I didn’t know much about before starting Moniker. Fortunately my business partner Dave is really good at it. So every time a customer has a wiring request that’s a little different, I learn something new. It also gives us a little insight into how they plan on using the guitar (sonically speaking) and that tells us something about them as a player.
- Have you had any requests for add-ons (such as hardware or custom paint requests) that you’ve not been able to meet yet?
Yes, all the time! Usually the issues are with custom paint. We’ve been pretty upfront with people that we don’t have Leonardo Da Vinci on retainer so we’re limited in what we can do. For example, if you want a lifelike portrait of your dog on a guitar, we can’t do that. In most cases we can find a happy middle ground with our customers that makes them happy. We’re always careful about not wanting to over promise and under deliver. That’s when you let your customers down.
- You’ve managed to build custom guitars for members of Silverstein and The Sword already. What has the feedback been like from these touring artists?
The feedback has been great. Kyle from The Sword is still playing his 2001 Space Odyssey themed guitar and the Shane from Silverstein loves his as well. Paul Marc from Silverstein used his Moniker in a video for Guitar World which was really cool. I’d be lying if I said those guys play our guitars exclusively because like most players, they have several guitars in the arsenal.
- Are there any artists (local to you in Texas or otherwise) that you’d love to design a guitar for?
We have a long list of people that we’d love to work with. Some are local like Bob Schneider who is a great musician and also an artist. We’ve talked to him about doing a guitar and he’s visited the shop a few times but we haven’t gotten there just yet. Wayne Coyne is another that we’d love to work with because I think he would have some interesting ideas.
- 2014 saw the introduction of several new shapes and features for your online guitar builder. How have these been received so far by your customers?
Its been interesting to watch the feedback. When we first launched Moniker, people liked the ability to customize but some people criticized the shapes for being too much like Fender and Gibson. And of course, that’s true but that’s what we were going for. We wanted to offer familiar shapes because we knew they would look very different once designed by a customer. With the new shapes, we wanted to come out with things that were more unique to Moniker. I think all of the new shapes have some nod to a guitar you’ve seen before but they’re definitely more unique than the first four we put out. The Anastasia and the Far City have been popular with just about everyone that I’ve talked to. The Tejas has been more polarizing. Either people love it or hate it. And to be honest, there’s something really exciting to me about that reaction. People are taking notice of what we’re doing and of course, they can always choose another shape if it’s not for them.
Usually I end this with the additional not-so-scary question which is “What’s coming up for you?”. As Moniker Guitars has less than a week to go on their Kickstarter campaign I’m sure the release of three new models (as mentioned by Kevin just above) is on the horizon. I wish them well on that.
Huge thanks to Kevin from Moniker Guitars for answering these questions. Bigger thanks to the entire team there for doing such awesome work. Oh, and happy New Year!