Early on in the Covid lockdown I placed an order for a tele style guitar with a young local luthier. He’d done some set-up and maintenance work for me previously on my FGN Iliad tele-clone and impressed me. I mainly mess around with blues and wanted to stick with the tele shape that I love, but to have it made with woods and gear that would give it a meaty, warm punch that I didn’t think would come from off-the-shelf stuff. So for better or worse I commissioned a guitar from him - my first ever 'custom build'. A week or so ago I saw the first photos of the embryonic ‘butterfly’ emerging from the cocoon of lumps of wood and today I've been along, seen it in the flesh with a bit extra work having gone into it since then. I thought I'd share the journey with you in instalments and give a warts and all honest debrief on the whole experience, highs lows, delight and regrets. I intend to be brutally honest, if I think with hindsight it was a mistake, I will say so, if I'm delighted, then you can be damn sure I'll tell you that too! Here's instalment number 1, the build up to date: At commissioning stage, Josh (the luthier) really impressed me with his knowledge, how he listened to my playing and what I wanted and then proposed the way he'd build it. I tried several styles of guitar in his showroom and stuck firmly to the Tele - it just works for me. I liked his whole approach and felt good about supporting a young guy running a local business during these difficult times (his workshop is a ten minute drive from my home). Whilst he asked for and listened to my thoughts, he was very determined not to let me do something 'stupid', so gave me quite firm advice when needed, which I appreciated because I make no claims to be an expert. He gave me sketches and a materials list at first, followed by CAD drawings from every angle. I didn't shop around other luthiers in other parts of the country, lockdown being part of that, but my desire to support a local businessman whose I genuinely took a liking to and trusted was the main reason. Naive perhaps - time will tell. Every week without fail since that commission, he's kept me posted on progress and where he's hit issues or had choices, he's consulted me first but given his advice and made me feel really engaged with the process. 2-3 weeks ago the woods arrived at his workshop and after they'd acclimatised he did the shaping of the body and neck and sent me these photos: The main part of the body is some very dense Brazilian Mahogany, sourced from a Spanish timber mill that was closing down and selling off its stock. Amongst the stock they had a fair bit of this dense mahogany that had been sitting in their stores for over 60 years according to the old timers that had worked there man and boy. The top is figured walnut from the crotch of the tree. The neck is plain straight-grain walnut and the finger board (and pick guard) is European flame maple. Josh had suggested Rosewood, but I was concerned the whole guitar would look too dark brown, so he did agree to this cosmetic change as it won't change the tone as much, Euro maple having a warmer sound that hard maple apparently. Today I saw the work in progress: The parts list looks pretty decent to me, though more experienced players may know of better bits, but it's things like: Bridge - Hipshot Fixed .175 Chrome Tuners - Hipshot GripLock Closed Chrome Pickup Configuration - Bridge, Humbucker / Neck, Humbucker Sized P90 - hand wound by the Luthier and he will tweak them after delivery if I want any changes as part of the original price e.g. if I decide I want two humbuckers or differently wound coils. The price is a bit more than I'd have paid at a music supermarket like Gear 4 Music on a Fender Ultra and less than the Rarities and Parallel Universe 2 models - all of which are factory built. I've absolutely no delusions that if I sell it it won't hold value like a Fender - it may be a mistake...but it'll be my mistake! 6 weeks to go Josh reckons, so fingers very firmly crossed.