We have some very talented luthiers building guitars. However, it often seems to be an exercise in assembling expensive exotic wood, probably better suited to a fruit bowl or a wall-hanger instrument. There are many top-quality custom-built Teles, Strats and other generic models produced – but I really do not see the point. Turn your hand to something original.
I guess I feel a lot of production lacks soul, I’ll cave in and call it, that over-used word, Mojo. Design is a very touchy subject and of course completely subjective. Good design, bad design, who is to say? – of course the author is always right. Some want brand new shiny generic guitars, others something relic’d to near destruction.
NCG Guitars are hand made in my Nottingham workshop. The current range evolved from the design of the aluminium NCG Moneymaker guitar project. Concepts are original, incorporating as many parts of my own design and manufacture as possible and made locally. This is not reinventing the wheel, it’s always dictated by ergonomics.
I developed my own range of Tele’ and hardtail bridges, along with neck plates, cover plates, string trees, string ferrule blocks, strap buttons and the alloy NCG T-Bar. The hardware pulls the designs together and completes the guitar. All items are important, and have a visual impact, even down to string trees. There is no fabulous re-invention here, but it all adds to the overall aesthetic.
Metal hardware is bespoke and made locally in Nottingham. NCG bridges and parts are available to buy separately and listed on the website.
Some guitars are made from reclaimed woods and no two instruments are the same. Ideally they would all be made from reclaimed materials, but sourcing is problematic.
It’s the small details that makes the difference, such as the individual decals, Custom Cooletch pick guards and switch rings, hand made in Newcastle upon Tyne, or the Haramis Musical Hardware knobs from not-so-local New Jersey. Sourcing original top quality products is time consuming but worth the results.
Guitars are subtly aged, in my opinion….using various lotions, potions and pickles. Finishes are usually nitro-cellulose.
I fit boutique hand-wound pickups, including Bare Knuckle Pickups, Monty’s Guitars, Sunbear Pickups and Gemini Pickups USA. Occasionally I wind my own, but to be honest there are so many top quality options available there seems little point.
The NCG Moneymaker moves out of the regular comfort zone. It is a hybrid aluminium and wood guitar. The aluminium body is sculpted, light weight and perfectly balanced. This increases sustain, due to the density and rigidity and provides a high degree of electrical shielding, so there is virtually no extraneous hum.Aluminium is more stable than wood, it is not affected by humidity. Temperature changes produce a calculable effect. Wood is randomly affected by temperature changes, humidity and changes to inherent stresses when machined. I have seen well seasoned 100 year old wood crack after routing body cavities, due to a change in stress patterns.
The notion of electric guitar “tone wood” is a myth. You can read up on it here. Metal guitars do not sound metallic, they just sound like an electric guitar.
I investigated the use of alloy necks but felt a truss rod was essential to enable adjustment to the neck profile, if wanted. There is no alloy neck on the market, that I am aware of, that incorporates a working truss rod. A wooden neck also allows greater scope for back of neck finish and feel, which is very important.
The Moneymaker shape was modified to create the more traditional wooden Apostle guitar models. The T-Bar increases rigidity and sustain, tying the overall structure together.
There is more hardware and other ideas on the way – watch this space.