Anyone that plays guitar, or is even just a fan of the instrument, knows that Fender one of the most legendary guitar manufacturers in history.
As of late, many luthiers who are fans of the Strat and Tele have branched out on their own as boutique electric guitar builders.
With these guitars you’ll find all the great tones and looks of a classic Fender guitar, with the craftsmanship of a custom shop instrument.
Being small both in customer base and physically, these guys can sometimes be hard to find and even harder learn about.
So, let me give you three of the top builders out there right now. Take this with a grain of salt, as there are many great builders out there I obviously won’t be able to mention.
Technically still a boutique guitar company, Nash Guitars is quickly on its way to full blown manufacturer. Nash guitars come from the state of California.
These guitars are primarily S and T type guitars from both the 50s and 60s.
If you’re a fan of the relic look, then Nash may be perfect for you. Most Nash guitars come with at least a minimal amount of relic, but they vary in amount all the way up to Rory Gallagher style wear.
All these guitars come stock with a lovely set of Lollar pickups. Being priced low also makes these guitars very attractive for their potential buyers.
With many options similar in price to a new American Fender guitar, low $1000s to $2000s, it’s a value that is tough to rival.
Founded by the man himself Don Grosh, Grosh guitars have established themselves as some of the most sought after boutique guitars on the market. Their main variety is the Retro Classic.
Based on the Strat body, Don Grosh brings an updated feel to the standard shape by narrowing the horns and slightly downsizing the body.
This not only lightens the guitar but also brings a great since of balance to the guitar.
As for pickups, Grosh winds their own and I have to say, they are some of the best I’ve ever played. You almost want to get the guitar just for the pups, that’s how good they are!
These guitars originally came on my radar while watching gear videos on the Wampler Pedals channel with demo player, Travis Feaster personally owns and toured with a Retro Classic.
Hearing his just through YouTube inspired me to go find one in store and try it out.
These guitars are definitely the hardest of the bunch to find at any given guitar store. Mainly made per order, SVL is run by luthier and guitar tech Simon Law.
Being Matt Schofield’s personal tech and guitar builder, Law has propelled his guitars into the hands of the great Robin Ford.
Based on one of Matt Schofield’s original 1961 Fender Strat, SVL Guitars main build is the 61 Reserve.
Built to Matt’s specs, this guitar boasts custom hand wired pickups and a completely hand built and shaped neck and body.
Due to the size of the company (Law primarily still works out of his personal workspace), and the artists he primarily endorses, SVL guitars are incredibly hard to get your hands.
That being said, if you do happen to find one, don’t hesitate to play it and try it out.
Now these are just 3 of the 100s of options on the market. I wanted to highlight these three because they all have something special to offer.
Nash has that classic relic look, Grosh has a classic sound with modern appointments, and SVL has a truly boutique instrument built at his home.
All offerings are great guitars nevertheless. As for price, Nash being made in higher bulk seem to regularly be lower in price than its counterparts.
SVL, being a custom by order guitar company, doesn’t necessarily have a set price point, but they can be seen going upwards 4 grand.
Don Grosh guitars will always set you back over 2 thousand, however they are still reasonable when put against Fender’s custom shop options.
The main thing to remember is this, try before you buy! Buying a guitar is personal experience and it needs to resonate with you.
So if you can, be sure to test it out and give it good playing before making a final decision.