| For right now, Bailey Custom is a one man operation. I make everything
myself. I started making guitars as a kid in 1977. At first, I just made wood
bodies and put parts from old guitars on the bodies for my own use.
I made my first aluminum guitar neck in 1998 at a technical college in
Bowling Green Ky. It was very crude compared to what I do now. I made that
neck from scrap aluminum I found at the school. I had to make a bolt on
headstock for it. The neck has no radius on the fingerboard, at that time, I
would have had to file that in by hand! I finished the guitar and it sounded
good, so I made another one. Later I made another neck and put it on eBay. It
sold! So, why not make another one? So I did and it's just grown from there.
I bought my own lathe and mill/drill with a digital readout. At the time of this
writing, I've made 84 aluminum guitar necks. I know, it doesn't sound like a lot,
but they seem to keep getting better and better. When I made my first one, I
would have bet anything that I would never have made 5, much less 84!
Alternative Materials Blog
I have made guitars completely from wood, completely from aluminum and
pretty much any combination of wood and aluminum. I've also used phenolic
for some of the parts, (fingerboards, bodies, etc.) However, I plan to quite
using wood for guitar bodies. Yes, that includes Travis Bean style guitars too.
I do plan to keep using wood for fingerboards, also aluminum and phenolic. In
the near future, I will only make bodies from aluminum or phenolic.
I know, a lot of people like wood bodies! Yeah! Some of them look
GREAT! Could you imagine never seeing a sunburst Gibson guitar? I
love'em too! Travis Bean made some AWESOME looking Koa guitars! I love
those too! But that's just not what Bailey Custom is about. I want to use 100%
alternative materials, but I'm not ready to do away with rosewood
fingerboards completely. In my opinion, an aluminum guitar with a phenolic or
wood fingerboard is the best sounding guitars..... Again, MY opinion. But all
guitars have their good points. I really like what Travis Bean did with the
aluminum neck that goes all the way through the body to the bridge, and then
he used a rosewood fingerboard. It makes a great sounding guitar.
I am speaking only about electric guitars.... Acoustic guitars are another
thing completely! And I only build electrics.
I hear people say some bad things about alternative materials. The thing is,
people are just used to wood guitars because back when guitars were first
built, that's all they had was wood! No aluminum, no phenolic.... But for an
electric guitar, you don't hear the wood, you only hear the strings! However,
the materials you use will effect the strings.
What do most people want from their electric guitar? Among other things,
they want sustain, right? Well, to get sustain, you need to build your guitar
from hard, rigid materials, the harder and more rigid the material, the more
sustain you will get.... Why? Well, softer materials absorb and/or transfer
vibrations... I hear people talk about the wood on their guitar "Vibrating" Yeah,
it's vibrating alright, because it's absorbing and/or transferring the vibration of
the strings to the material the guitar is made of. Aluminum and phenolic are
harder than wood, so they absorb and/or transfer less vibration. This is also
why most builders use metal for frets and bridges. The harder the material,
the better anchor you have for the strings.
This brings me to another subject..... Why is it some builders use metal
frets, but turn right around and use a soft plastic nut?? Seems like you would
want the nut made from something closer to the material the frets are made
from. I usually use brass for nuts, but I have made them from aluminum, upon
Again, I'm ONLY talking about electric guitars....
Anything the guitar is made of will effect the sound..... Even your fingers
touching or fretting the strings will effect the sound.
So, I want to build with alternative materials. I'll leave the wood to other
builders. We'll ALWAYS be able get wood guitars and hopefully, people will
also want guitars made from alternative materials too!
Black, paper based phenolic is very rigid and looks good polished or with a
satin finish. If I make a Travis Bean style guitar with a black phenolic body, it
will look like a black Travis Bean... Brown, cloth based phenolic does look
similar to wood and is also VERY rigid.
I have not tried any of that Richlite stuff that other builders are using. Is it
good? I figure, If Gibson and Martin are willing to use it, maybe it's worth a
shot? I do intend to experiment with it at some point. I will update this once I
try it out....................
built in 1998