As my perfect guitar social experiment comes to an end, I thought it would be wise to share several virtual guitar building websites I have come across. Why? Well for a couple of handy reasons. Firstly, I doubt it will be easy to simply locate the perfect guitar in an existing guitar catalogue. Secondly—and more importantly—it’s a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for months now. I’ve been putting it off for so long now I’d started procrastinating on my procrastination. But no more! today I list the websites that many a guitar lover will lose countless hours on. I make no apologies.
Before I get into my main list, I will mention a few virtual guitar building websites that almost made it. They’re good websites, but in my opinion, they only offer part of the picture. Perhaps they allow you to build part of a guitar. Perhaps they allow you to design a guitar, but then not build it. Still, they’re handy tools to check out when considering your own custom guitar build.
The almost list
- Warmoth—you can build a complete guitar here, but bodies and necks are designed in isolation. This is the best offering that didn’t make my detailed list below.
- Norita Guitars—this isn’t a system that allows you to order the guitar you’ve custom built. but it does allow you to create a design that you could then take to a custom luthier with clear instructions on what the finished piece will look like. The system looks very similar to one highlighted below—Halo Guitars.
- USA Custom Guitars—very similar to the previous list offering. A virtual guitar builder that allows you to create a virtual guitar that isn’t orderable from the same website.
The design it and build it list
These guitars are customisable via an embedded Flash guitar builder or through a downloadable guitar creator for the Windows and Mac environments. However, these guitars are also orderable through the same website/software provider. Prices are embedded in the tool and the customisation is easy. The customisation offerings are easy to apply and fairly diverse in their offerings. It’s handy to see an option for left handed players too.
I didn’t install the Windows version of the guitar creator, but found the embedded website version difficult to refresh if I wanted to change the body shape of the guitar. Still, it creates some damn sexy guitars. This one is near perfect to me.
The ESP offering is similar to the Ruokangas listing above. You choose from an existing guitar model from this luthier’s stable and make the customisations you like from the options provided. The offerings are much simpler, but easier to navigate through. It’s very easy to change body types and experiment with colour and fretboard types. But this offering has the least variety for a lot of hardware components.
The schecter offering is very similar to the ESP offering. The tool allows for some simple option choices from a very predefined list of options—those options seemingly set by the model you’ve chosen to configure. Some very sexy guitars, but some very limited customisation offerings. The PT—image below—has more options than some of the other Schecter configurator models.
If you haven’t heard me talk about Moniker Guitars before, then you’ve most likely not been here before. I won an Ugly Guitar Design contest with them using their configurator. I then went ahead and built my own customised guitar using their online guitar builder that turned out to be even more beautiful in real life—just to be clear, I didn’t build the guitar I designed for their ugly guitar competition. Over the years their online guitar builder has gone from strength to strength. The model range has expanded and the options have become more and more tempting to take from virtual to actual.
Be warned, this is a website you can easily lose hours on as you chop and change the machine heads, the pickups, the strings, the scratchplates, the hardware, the paint and the additional finishes such as binding or relic options.
The Halo Guitars website is most likely the most complete online guitar configurator I’ve ever come across. I’d love to get a guitar through this company. When you see the options they offer, you’ll see why I’ve chosen to use their service to construct what my social media experiment will determine is the perfect electric guitar. The conclusion of that experiment should be posted here in the coming days as I collate the results. That time delay has nothing to do with the procrastination I mentioned earlier. I simply have a couple of questions to go before the series ends on Twitter. Trust me.
Anyhow, just as the Moniker Guitars online configurator allows you to customise almost all aspects of a custom guitar, so does the Halo Guitars offering—and then some. The range of guitars and basses is second to none and the way you can match almost any guitar body to any neck/head combination is outstanding. What truly sets the Halo offering apart from any other online custom guitar builder however is the attention to the finer details. Here are some of my favourite customisation options for example.
- 40+ body shapes (you can even suggest your own!)
- Body contour options
- Headstock angle
- String count options
- Fanned frets
As I’ve asked 17 different questions in my social media experiment, the Halo Guitars website was the only site that allowed me to match up just about every customisation option—there’s one configuration setup that the experiment resulted in that I don’t believe I’ve come across on a guitar before.
It would be nice to build a guitar that was a bit of a first. Maybe one day I could make it a reality.
There you have it. Plenty of virtual guitar building websites for people who are looking to build a guitar online. You could use these tools to see what your ideas would look like and/or you could use any of the featured offerings above to turn that dream into a reality.
I’ve done it once before. I’d love to do it again. Maybe the guitar that social media chose could be that guitar. I have a feeling it will be amazing.
In the meantime … happy virtual guitar building.