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Ambler Guitars – Why Handmade And Boutique?

When it says ‘handmade’ it should be right? Well every guitar here at Ambler Custom Guitars is handmade in house by John. He selects the woods. Draws the templates. Cuts, carves and sands each piece before assembling and creating a truly unique, bespoke product that you would never be able to get on the end of a mass production line. He stains, paints, lacquers and polishes each guitar and if it’s not right, does it again, and again until it is right.

Couple this process with some of the finest hand-wound pick-ups from the likes of Bare Knuckle and McNelly, hardware from Duesenberg, Gotoh, Stetsbar and Kluson (to name but a few) and hand wired electronics and you can see why these guitars are some of the best creations available. These parts, be it guitars, pickups or other bits of hardware are being built by small companies that are fighting to make a name for themselves. They put their heart and soul into their products. They use the best components available to them, and keep going until it’s perfect. You don’t get that with mass produced instruments and parts. Their goal is to build the product as quickly and cheaply as possible.

The attention to detail John goes to on each guitar build is astounding. This stems from his love of boutique instruments. In almost all of the large guitar factories out there, everything that can be done by a machine is done so. The instrument is passed down a line of workers who are there to do one particular job. One guy might be to push the frets in, the next to level them, the next will maybe fit a bridge and so on. None of those employees could be pulled aside and asked to build a guitar from scratch, they are trained to do the one process. So they have no recognition if something is a miss with what’s been done before.

“The woods for those instruments are also bought in from anywhere with very little care or consideration for the customer at a price that benefits the company. At Ambler Custom Guitars, I hand select every single piece of wood that is used in my workshop. I know where every piece has come from and only deal with reliable sources that care as much about the environment as I do. Everything I make starts out as a sketch. Through to jig and template building, prototypes made, re-working, alterations, new jigs made… all before the wood is selected. Then the instrument is crafted- the entire process is a growth. And no one else hands will touch it other than mine until its finished and ready to play. The ensures the greatest quality possible. A strive for ultimate perfection. And the guys behind the boutique companies that make the parts and hardware that I used on my guitars, they all feel the same way and have the same fire in their bellies. The parts aren’t made by guys just watching a clock wondering how long it is until hometime.”

John is passionate about his craft. Hopefully this will give you a better understanding as to why everything that comes out of the workshop looks the way it does and why building a guitar of this nature, is not done over night.


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