Fender vs. Squier: The Differences That Matter

Fender vs. Squier: The Differences That Matter… Squier parts and pups are cheap and yet the woodwork can be very close…

The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation is the largest guitar manufacturer in the world. The historic guitar giant currently makes countless instruments, from exquisite small-batch Custom Shop offerings to its Made in the USA, Japan, and Mexico lines, and, finally, to its entry-level brand, Squier.

Squiers have traditionally been regarded as great starter options for any novice guitar or bass player. It probably wouldn’t be too far off to guess that at least half the experienced players reading this article have owned a Squier at some point in their lives, and for many in that group, it all began with a Squier starter pack that included a matching amp.

While for decades, Squier’s product catalog mostly consisted of basic low-end takes on core Fender models, their offerings have diversified in recent years to include dozens of unique models, including some that were traditionally only available from the Fender Custom Shop. A lot of these new and exciting designs have people wondering about the real differences between Fender’s core lines and the Squier spin-offs. Today, that’s exactly what we’re going to explore.

For our purposes, we’re going to focus mostly on comparing Fender’s well-regarded Made in Mexico (MIM) line with Squier instruments of predominantly Chinese and Indonesian origin. Like our recent Gibson vs. Epiphone piece, the goal of this article is to give an overview of the main differences between the two for those who are simply curious or for those looking to purchase one or the other.

The Cost of Buying a Fender or a Squier

As you’d expect, price varies widely in every category. New Squiers top out at around $450, whereas the same amount of money can usually get you a used MIM Fender. Used American-made Fenders are even more expensive, typically starting at around $600.

Across the board though, we highly recommend looking at used options when trying to find the best value on any Fender or Squier model. You can look at used Fender and Squier guitars here.

Fender ’60s Jaguar

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar

Below is a chart of some common price comparisons between new MIM Fenders and their Squier counterparts to give you an idea of the price spread. For our purposes we will be focusing on the standard Squier line, including the Vintage Modified and the Classic Vibe series.

Model
Fender Standard Squier
Jazzmaster
$1,024.99 $449.99
Jaguar/Vintage Modified
$1,024.99 $399.99
’60s Strat/Classic Vibe ’60s
$924.99 $399.99
Tele Deluxe Thinline/Classic Vibe Thinline
$924.99 $449.99
’50s Tele/Classic Vibe ’50s
$899.99 $399.99
’72 Tele Thinline
$899.99 $449.99
’50s Strat/Classic Vibe ’50s
$899.99 $399.99
Standard Strat/Squier Standard Strat
$624.99 $249.99
Standard Tele/Squier Standard Tele
$599.99 $249.99
Average Price Difference: $486.11

This range of prices makes for some hard choices about whether to save up for a more expensive stock instrument or pay a little less and use your excess budget for potential upgrades down the line.

Bottom Line: If buying new, Squiers will always be cheaper than comparable Fenders. However, savvy shoppers can often find deals on used Fenders that will fit any budget.

Model Selection

Previously, the core of the Squier line was mostly made up of bare-bones Strats and Teles, Precision and Jazz Basses. But recently, the line has expanded to include Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Tele Thinlines, signature models (J Mascis, John 5, and others), Bass VIs, baritones, Strats and Teles of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, and nearly all of the basses Fender has ever made.

Squier has also further defied convention by diversifying finish choices and now offering custom colors like burgundy mist, seafoam green, and Lake Placid blue.

Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster Burgundy Mist

The Fender MIM line—also known as the Standard line (which includes some recent Asian production)—has been gaining players’ respect for decades. Fender’s recently introduced Modern Player line and some of the Vintage Modified line also fall into the same price bracket as the Standard line. Though these models are of a higher-quality than their Squier counterparts, some of them—like the Starcaster and custom set-neck Telecaster—are made in some of the same production areas as Squiers, like Indonesia, China, and Korea. To keep things simple, we’ll include these newer models in the discussions of the Made in Mexico Standard line.

Once exclusively Strats and Teles, the current Standard line includes fewer overall models than the Squier catalog, but with more variety within each model. The Standard Strat, Teles, offsets, and basses come in a variety of pickup and bridge configurations, from the most 1950s-inspired models to HSH models, with their flame maple tops and Floyd Rose trems.

Also, a large number of signature models (Troy Van Leeuwen, Kurt Cobain, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Root, Brad Paisley, Dave Murray) have recently been introduced. In previous years, the Standard line has included some diverse models, including limited runs with rare colors like shell pink, swirls and splatter paint, and other unique features.

A clear standout from the Standard series is the “Classic Series,” which exhibits models with the best suite of traits from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. This kind of product diversity makes it easy to find an instrument that is exactly—or at least most of the way toward—what you’re looking for.

Bottom Line: Both brands offer a wide range of models, but more and more, Squier’s lineup includes unique instruments that aren’t available as Fenders.

Fender Standard Stratocaster 2006 – 2017

15 available from £336.66

Wood Selection and Composition

Early Japanese Squiers were known for being made with quality woods, while later models became known for just the opposite after manufacturers started constructing cheaper models from plywood. More of the recent, higher-end Squiers have had special runs of instruments made of pine, alder, and other woods.

Many Squier models are made of basswood, agathis, poplar, and other cheap woods as well. While some players may discount basswood, many high-end Ibanez models are proudly made of basswood.

Squier Vintage Modified ’72 Tele Thinline with an Ash Body

The body wood of a Squier can be hard to determine, as the finish is, in many cases, quite thick on these models. But overall, material is a matter of taste. I have personally found that many of the Squiers not made of basswood are very heavy when compared to similar MIM models of the same wood.

For Fender Standard models, traditional Fender tonewoods have generally been the focus, with most models being primarily made of alder or ash. Maple necks generally have the choice of rosewood or maple fingerboards for most models.

The bodies are generally formed by gluing many more pieces of wood together than is the case with USA-made models. Opaque finishes also indicate that the instrument’s body is comprised of more pieces of wood than a clearly finished instrument. Early MIM Fender necks were actually made on CNC machines in the USA and finished in Mexico, as opposed to today, when all wood components are made in the Mexico factory.

Bottom Line: Squiers tend to use what are considered to be inferior woods, though the degree that this actually matters is ultimately up to the buyer.

Hardware

Hardware is where you’ll find the largest difference between models and production centers. The overwhelming amount of hardware for the Squier series are sourced from other factories and the parts are generally lower in quality.

Replacing parts on a Squier can be a tricky undertaking. Not only are there imperial and metric size differences, but there are also several differences within the Fender models themselves.

Fender Standard Stratocaster Bridge

Fender brands much of its hardware, while a majority of Squier hardware is unbranded and of dubious origin and quality. Generally speaking, Squier uses lower-quality metals for most of its hardware. The quality of Squier tuners and bridge saddles are a common complaint.

Fender’s Standard line has generally been considered to have higher quality parts all around. Tuners are usually upgraded and of a sealed variety, and those on reissue models are generally similar to their vintage counterparts—for better or worse.

While replacing parts on a MIM Fender is always a viable option, potential modders should proceed with caution as many of the models use a mix of US parts and overseas parts. One example is the ‘72 Tele Thinline reissue, which has some MIM parts with USA-made bridge saddles. The newer, non-MIM Standards generally use metric-sized parts of varying quality.

Bottom Line: Squier uses inferior parts generally speaking. Due to differences in measurements, upgrading stock parts may not be as simple as it seems.

Pickups

Pickups, like parts, are generally where you can hear the biggest difference between these two lines with Squier generally using lower-quality pickups. Some of the single-coils are made with bar magnets instead of pole magnets, for example, making the sound fundamentally different from the classic Fender design.

Bar magnet single-coils are more similar in construction to P90s than Fender single-coils and lack the clarity of traditional Fender single-coils. Many of the humbuckers used in Squier instruments are ceramic-magnet-based, with more emphasis on output than tonal clarity.

Fender Dave Murray Strat with Seymour Duncan Pickups

The Fender Standard series has upgraded pickups, but again, are generally considered inferior to USA models. Different styles with each model also features a different set of pickups. Vintage-style models are outfitted with ‘50s-style pickups, for instance, while top-of-the-line signature models that are also MIM—such as the Dave Murray Stratocaster or Jim Root models—are outfitted with USA-made pickups by Seymour Duncan and EMG.

Because the Standard pickups are considered to be of decent quality, this all comes down to your personal taste. I think that the stock pickups in the Fender Standard ‘50s Strats sound great, so I personally wouldn’t upgrade them. Many players choose only to upgrade one or two of the pickups in a Fender Standard model which is also an option for any Squier.

Bottom Line: Pickups, like hardware, will be superior on Fender-branded guitars out of the box. You can, however, always upgrade pickups to whatever higher-end option you prefer.

Fender Classic Series ’72 Telecaster Thinline

4 available from £749.07

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster Thinline Electric Guitar

5 available from £335

Fit and Finish

Fit and finish can be very model-dependent across all price points. Vintage-style Squiers have glossy necks and bodies, while more modern or low-end models tend to have a satin neck. From recent personal experience, the satin neck finish on some Squiers was too rough for my taste, but this is a personal preference.

Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster

The glossy urethane finish on most of these models tends to be quite thick, which is off-putting to many players. Fret finishing on many Squiers—especially the lower-priced models—is consistently less precise than on more expensive models, fret ends are not as neatly rounded, and frets are less polished.

For the Fender Standard line, I have found that finish is thinner and with fewer imperfections than Squier, especially in key areas such as the neck pocket and neck. The satin finish necks also feel smoother in the hand. Fretting is also generally taken to a higher stage of buffing, and fret ends are much more extensively treated—although, generally, not to the same level of USA models.

From my personal experience, I have found that the MIM models tend to weigh less than the Squier models.

Bottom Line:

Fit and finish will vary guitar-to-guitar for both brands, and is largely a matter of personal preference.

Long Term Cost and Value

For nearly all guitars, there will be a cost to upkeep and to upgrade. For both brands, this is easy, as Leo Fender’s instruments are one of the finest examples of manufacturing with interchangeable parts ever achieved. For nearly every Fender model, it’s relatively easy to swap pickups, pickguards, change saddles, replace tuners, and even swap necks and bodies.

Initially, the long-term cost of a Squier will be more, as more elements will be in line for replacement, such as pickups, tuners, and most metal parts. Also, a setup and fret-dressing will be needed in most cases for the instrument to play optimally. When owning a Squier long-term, unless you love the model as is, you are paying for the wood, paint, and shape, and one can easily spend more in upgrades than on the entire cost of the base instrument.

If you’re just starting out, the sound of your pickups or the thickness of your finish might not matter as much as it would to someone who has been playing for years and is familiar with the alternatives.”

But remember that things like upgrades and feel are matters of personal preference, so the most important thing here is to know what you’re looking for. If you’re just starting out, the sound of your pickups or the thickness of your finish might not matter as much as it would to someone who has been playing for years and is familiar with the alternatives.

That said, models from the Fender Standard Series are generally more playable right out of the box. Setup and minimal fretwork will be needed, but often, not to the extent that a Squier model would require.

Also, the stock hardware and pickups will have a longer life and may not need replacement at all. As stated previously, many only choose to upgrade some of the pickups in these models. The higher quality parts and build will allow the instrument to age better and let one be more selective on what to change and keep. The initial cost will be higher, but the long-term cost will be lower.

Value is a trickier question than one might initially think. More expensive models will, of course, have higher resale value, but both Squiers and Standards have consistently high demand. Many will buy a Squier for necks and bodies, which may have a faster resale value than a complete Standard model.

Bottom Line: If owning a Squier long term, you may need to invest more money in upkeep and upgrades than you would with a Fender. Both will have similar resale value relative to the original purchase price.

Final Thoughts

While it would be easy to simply say that you get what you pay for, I don’t think that’s the case when comparing Squier and Fender. With the rising quality of Squiers and their continued low price points, I would consider buying a Squier in many scenarios.

For example, if you’re looking to try out a less common model—like a Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Bass VIs, baritone, or vintage reissue of some kind—the Vintage Modified and Classic Vibe series are an affordable way to do so. Until recently, these body shapes and era-specific designs were scarce and expensive, but the newer Squier variations offer an easy way to explore what you like and dislike.

On the other hand, if you’re sure about what you want and are looking for in an affordable, gig-able instrument that doesn’t require any upgrades, the Standard series—especially on the used market—consistently provides some of the best deals around. There’s a reason the Fender Standard Strat remains one of the most frequently recommended guitars in the world.

As always, your mileage may vary and you should look to your ears and hands to make a decision. Do you have experience comparing Squier and Fender guitars? Let us know in the comments.

NGS Finishes

Wood Finishes From 1600 – 1950

Finishing is the least studied and most inaccessible aspect of our antique furniture heritage. The workmanship on antiques show the skill of its maker, but the finish appeared to be insignificant. We can not learn from the pieces themselves, because there are very few pieces that have any of the original finish remaining. Finishes that were used in the early years in the United States which were wax, shellac, varnish and lacquer were not considered an essential part of the furniture and therefore information on what was used was not recorded.

Robert Mussey says, “The problem with finding information regarding finishes of earlier years is that traditional finishing materials include some temporary, degradable, and fugitive natural materials. Resins, oils, the most common components of clear furniture finishes in the 18th and early 19th centuries, undergo complex oxidative destruction which begins almost immediately after they are applied. They are among the most complex and difficult to separate and identify, but particularly in their oxidized states. It has only been recently that reliable methods have been developed to identify them, and even these are difficult especially when traditional materials used to establish controls may be unavailable. Cabinetmakers, varnish-makers, and other tradesmen did not commonly write about their work. The difficulties of a craftsman left little time for record keeping, plus their skills were learned through apprenticeship, practice, communicating verbally, and by example.” Also many of their skills and formulas were a trade secret. When ever any formulas and directions were written, it was probably completed by a historian or small publisher. While some of these had connections with working craftsmen and studied the subject by going around to various shops and seeing what was done, others got their information from hear say or copied it from other works. Many resins used in finishes appear similar and may possess similar properties which caused inaccuracies in naming and identifying specific materials. Just because a receipt book recommends a certain recipe or formula does not mean that formula represented the actual practice of working cabinetmakers. It was necessary for the researcher to confirm the information by looking for entries in the cabinetmakersÕ account books for the materials that were actually purchased, or newspapers for advertisements for materials actually available. Practices varied depending on local taste, availability of materials, and how much was being paid for the piece. The range of materials from 1670 to 1840 did not change significantly nor did they vary widely among workers. A list of painting, varnishing, and dyeing materials used in 1680 resembles one of 1820, (Transparent Furniture Finishes in New England).

Mussey States “During the Colonial days, demand in Great Britain for scarce materials limited their export to the Colonies. The revolution of 1776 and the embargo of Great Britain in early 19th century brought a total halt to the importation of finishing materials to the United States. During those periods, then, it is logical to assume varnishes, for example, would have been made of local materials: rosin in its various forms, and turpentine making a cheap inferior, but locally manufactured and available.”

WAX FINISHES

Mussey says wax was a very common finish for a period of 75 years from the mid 1700s to the early 1800s. It was on of the most frequently mentioned items in the cabinetmakers’ account books. Beeswax was the most common wax and beehives were also purchased by cabinetmakers for the wax they used and/or to be sold to their customers. Wax was universally available in rural New England and formed an important item of commerce both in the cities and in the country and with the expensive cost of imported varnishes we can assume that much of the United States 18th century furniture was wax finished. Wax was used in various ways, but usually polished to a high gloss finish. Some methods was mixing the wax with turpentine to make the wax softer and make the work of polishing easier, others rubbed the wax with a cork and fine brick dust, (Transparent Furniture Finishes in New England).

SHELLAC

Mussey says shellac was advertised as early as May 9, 1738 by John Merritt, whose ad called it “seedlach”, but there was no single purchase found in any account book until the early 1800s when it began to appear frequently. This may possibly be explained by its cost. Shellac was imported to Great Britain from India, then to the Colonies, and was subject to considerable import duties levied by the Crown. Beginning in the early 1800s the American merchant fleet began to import directly from the Far East and a huge trade developed, (Transparent Furniture Finishes in New England).

Don Williams says “Lac, the raw material from which shellac is made, is refined from the secretions of the tiny insect Laccifer Lacca, a native to Indochina and India. The Lac bugs live on trees, sucking out nutrients from the sap and secreting a protective shell that eventually covers the twigs and branches. When these deposits are abundant, the branches are cut off and the resin is prepared for processing. The raw material “sticklac,” is crushed and washed in water to remove the twigs, dirt and the lac dye in the insect carcasses. The finished product can include the amber color and the wax (which acts as a plasticizer) or can be blond (color removed) and dewaxed. The final step is assigning a grade to the shellac which is based on the host tree and the time of year it is harvested, wax content, color, clarity, and hardness”, (Shellac Finishing).

VARNISH

T. Hedley Barry, F.I.C. says “The history of the manufacture of varnish is necessarily associated with that of the arts and of industry. The application of a varnish is invariably the final stage in the preparation of an article for use, and as regards to both the quantity of the material and the labor involved, usually represents a comparatively small item. It is natural therefore that the manufacture of varnishes began as an incidental process, and in the early stages was ultimately connected with the arts rather than with industry. As to the nature of the varnishes used, we have in the works of Jean Felix Watin, a very detailed account of the types of varnish made and the method of manufacture. It was published in 1773, achieved great popularity and was re-edited no fewer than fourteen times, the last edition being published in 1906 by L. Mulo of Paris. The formulas are given in ounces and it is evident that the amounts made at one time were very small. In the case of spirit varnish, he recommends that the resin be dissolved in alcohol by heating on a water-bath whilst in the case of oil varnishes, he describes melting the resin in an earthenware pot, preferably glazed, over a hot fire, but not flaming. When the resin is properly run, the hot oil is added and heating continued until incorporation is complete. In fact, WatinÕs process is little more than a transcription of that described by; Theophilus at least 600 years before,” (Varnish Manufacture).

Mussey says Alcohol necessary for spirit varnishes was probably derived from various sources. While account books and newspaper advertisements rarely mention it, we know the colonies produced and exported huge quantities of rum and brandy, often high in alcohol content. Much of it was drunk but many varnish formulas specifically call for brandy as spirit vehicles, and its universal availability and cheap price probably led to its common use in spirit varnish. According to the Cabinet Makers Guide a typical varnish formula is “To one gallon of spirits of turpentine add five pounds of clear rosin pounded; put it in a tin can, on a stove, and let it boil for half an hour; when the rosin is all dissolved, let it cool, and it is fit for use”. This would have yielded a not-so-hard varnish with a decided yellowish brown tint. As turpentine and rosin are among the most frequently mentioned finishing materials encountered among entries in cabinetmaker’s account books of the period, and because they were among the cheapest, we can’t go far wrong in assuming a varnish such as this was commonly employed on much 18th and early 19th century furniture. The process was extremely simple, and required only domestically produced materials, free from the constraints of the various trade embargoes and taxation that imported resins were subject to. However, it would have been suitable only for darker woods. Another typical recipe recommends — To make the best white hard varnish: Rectified spirits of wine, two gallons; gum sandrach (a commonly used spirit varnish resin), five pounds; gum mastic, one pound; gum anime a relatively soft, Zanzibar copal mostly soluble in alcohol, four ounces; put these in a clean can, or bottle to dissolve, in a warm place, frequently shaking it, when gum is dissolved, strain it through lawn sieve, it is fit for use. The mixtures of old attempted to combine the best properties of the various resins and thereby to overcome the disadvantages of each. Sandarac was used for its lustrous quality; Venice turpentine to overcome brittleness; elemi resin for elasticity; copal gum for hardness; and benzoin as a plasticizer for the varnish. Another varnish from the Cabinetmakers Guide suggests 4 parts amber to 1 part gum lac dissolved in turpentine, with a small addition of linseed oil, (Transparent Furniture Finishes in New England).

LACQUER

Joe Amaral says “Cellulose Nitrate” was discovered in 1846 by Dr. Schonbein in Switzerland to be used for explosives. It was used in the film industry from 1880-1920. From 1870-1920 cellulose nitrate (celluloid) was the basis for many plastic objects, French Ivory, imitation tortoiseshell and mother of pearl. In 1855 Nitro Cellulose Lacquer first came into commercial use in England as Liquid nitrate. In 1870 American John Wesley Hyatt found that camphor made an excellent solvent and plasticizer for cellulose nitrate and patented his discovery on July 12th and called it celluloid. In 1882 Production of amyl acetate by J.H. Stevens in the U.S. initiated the development of modern lacquer coatings.” (History of Nitrocellulose) Lacquer was developed as an alternative to shellac at a time when shellac price instabilities were causing small-scale economic turmoil in the US. Lacquer’s principle component, cellulose nitrate, was easy to process from wood pulp and was already in plentiful supply in “nitrate,” form as “gun cotton”. Post-war gun cotton stockpiles were a dangerous nuisance and as such, the chemical industry was asked if these stockpiles could be turned into anything useful. As an added bonus, lacquers became more durable than shellac and easier to apply in production furniture manufacturing. Russ Ramirez says A nitrocellulose film by itself would be much too brittle so plasticizers are added to add flexibility. Plasticizers come in two varieties, the oil type that does not chemically bond to the cellulose molecules, and the chemical type that modifies the cellulose derivative chemically to yield a molecule with improved characteristics. Resins are used in lacquer formulations to enable the cellulose film to bond to the surface it is being applied to and to minimize any shrinkage of the film. Resins also impart a physical and a chemical durability, as well as enhancing the overall appearance of the lacquer,” (Lacquer by Design).

Nitrocellulose

Ramirez “The following is a formula of classic nitrocellulose lacquers that follows the same across different brands. This old recipe shows what goes into a batch and what role each component plays.”

Ingredient %ByVol Role
1/2 second Cellulose Nitrate packed in alcohol, 75% non- volatiles 5.5% Binder
Non-reactive Alkyd resin, 70% non-volatiles 7.9% Resin
Maleic resin, 50% non-volatiles 5.1% Resin
Dioctyl Phthalate 1.5% Plasticizer
Castor Oil 1.2% Plasticizer
Butyl Acetate 16.6% Solvent
Ethyl Acetate 6.4% Solvent
Butanol 9.1% Solvent
Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) 27.3% Solvent
Toluol 19.4% Diluent

Events that affected the United States also affected the finishes used. The revolution in 1776 and the trade embargo in the early 19th century stopped the importation of finishing materials and local materials had to be used. This caused varnish to be made with local materials and the use of wax became popular. In the early 1800s the American merchant fleet began to trade directly with the Far East. That caused shellac to be more available at more competitive cost. Lacquer was developed as an alternative to shellac at a time when shellac price instabilities were causing small-scale economic turmoil in the US and there were stockpiles of post-war gun cotton (used to make lacquer) available. Lacquer also dried faster and was easier to apply which made it very appealing to manufacturing. Lacquer, because of its improved durability and fast drying, has become one of he most popular finishes in manufacturing of wood products. So through research we have found that there is not much information regarding what was used as a finish on antique furniture. The reason for this is because the furniture was built originally for functional purposes and the aesthetics of the piece was secondary. It was believed that if the finish became a problem you could easily remove it and put on another. There also were very little instructions written regarding finishes. The cabinetmakers skills were learned through apprenticeships, practice and verbal communication and many recipes of finishes were trade secrets.

Earl LaMott April 30, 2003

works cited
  1. Amaral, Joe – History of Nitrocellulose Lacquer, Group@Alan.net July
  2. Barry, T. Hedley F.I.C. – Varnish Making, Chemical Publishing Co., 1940
  3. Mussey, Robert – Transparent Furniture Finishes in New England, 1700-1820
  4. Mussey, Robert – Old Finishes
  5. Ramirez, Russ – Lacquer by Design
  6. Williams, Don – Shellac Finishes

Linton Series

 

A hand built guitar currently on the bench.

First shots expected Feb 14 2018.

 

Cutty Sark was designed by Hercules Linton, of Scott & Linton, a shipbuilding company based in Dumbarton. Hercules had followed in his father’s footsteps, embarking on a career in the shipbuilding industry and was apprenticed to Alexander Hall & Sons, shipbuilders in Aberdeen from 1855.

Hercules Linton is my 4th generation grand father and I am proud of the fact that quite by chance I found out about my heritage from my great aunt.

Sleek lines and a windward feel for this offset beauty.

Stay posted.

NG
Read more at http://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/behind-the-scenes/blog/fathers-and-sons-cutty-sark#SCbDRv7gT9tZ4iJK.99

 

Linton Series

Tonecaster series

NGS Besoke Guitar series

Bespoke, one-off guitars with a common theme for unique, unleashed vibrant sounds, beauty and playability. There are no gimmicks here.

 

Every body and every neck has a life of its own and the parts fitted to them are done so over a period of 3 months. This is what we term the knowing time. Getting to know and feel the instrument, what it needs and what will work within it’s framework and energy.

One pick-up will work like butter in one body but be a dud in another. That’s why we give it extra in order to distill the best combination of working parts.

Intonation of the body and headstock is a delicate process which includes the cleaning lines, contouring of roll offs, use of shellac, refining a snug neck pocket.

The choice of bridge, saddles, nut, machines and pick-ups continually discussed and considered during the 3 month period.

If it takes longer… it will be the making of the sound Shifter.

 

Prices start from £1425.00 (sterling)

 

  • Hand made or F quality body or neck
  • NGS Hand finished and re-contoured fine form (Nick Garrett)
  • NGS Contoured neck – for silky, fast play (Nick Garrett)
  • NGS body intonation (Nick Garrett)
  • Paint finish (Nick Garrett)
  • Cloth wiring and 250 CTS Pots (Nick Garrett)
  • Fine finish hand aged parts (Nick Garrett)
  • Gotoh and/or Kluson parts
  • Selected pickups (Nick Garrett): Fender Vintage player, Porter or Seymour Duncan 
  • Satin neck and light age waxed finish (Distress Light 002 Nick Garrett)

 

NGS Guitar bodies and necks

History in the making

The NGS guitar body and neck parts are things of beauty and one off originality. Intuitively putting components together that play perfectly.

The finishes I create follow natural ageing of lacquer and surface designs.

The parts are made by hand by my crew of craftsmen.

 

Real distressing of relics – it’s an art

Starting my career as historic paint finisher of interiors in 1986 my clients included Designers Guild and Nina Campbell interior design. The surface finishing was museum quality and each project involved bespoke and unique design ideas, references and approaches.

 

I was the first paint finisher in London working from a studio in Effra Road in Brixton, pioneering historic finishes that have now become the shabby chic look – a crude and far cry from the originals.

Restoration was always a part of the work of the day. Learning many skills from master clock maker David Walter while I lived in Perth, Australia, grounded me in the beauty of wood finishing and french polishing techniques.

Gilding has been a central part of my lettering practice since 1981. Distressed gilding is one of my hallmark finishes.


Strat heavy relic

 

 

Today

In June of 2017 I picked up my beloved Strat and started playing it again after 26 years. Fairly soon I realised I had a raw unabated obsession for these incredible toys.

I met Neil Shoemark who inspired me to start thinking about creating special instruments. 

The primary concern for me was sound rather than look. But that changed as I started playing with some hand made bodies he let me have for a song.

Neil is now my primary builder of necks.

My passion for guitars has brought alliances and these traditional skills together, creating rich subtle instruments, relic finishes and even more dramatic effects.

Email me for information and detailed images of NGS finishes.

Best to you,

Nick Garrett