My Ongoing Guitar Fantasy

I’ve had this fantasy about a custom guitar in my thoughts for quite some time. It’ll never happen unless I 1) enter a lottery, B) win that lottery and III) throw enough money at Gibson or Epiphone to build it.

Very briefly, it’s a semi-hollowbody Venetian single cutaway with 2 humbuckers and a stop tailpiece.

Long version.

Body: Same body as a Byrdland Venetian cutaway, except for more holes in the soundboard for the bridge and tailpiece pins to go into the block. Although I’m a bit doubtful about how essential tonewoods actually are on solid body electrics (ignoring weight and balance issues), let’s go with a mahogany block inside. It’s supposed to be why LPs are so good. I’d want a little sort of half moon shaped insert inside the body on the lower treble bout with a hole drilled through it AND the side for better support of the output jack. Mount the jack on a plate and screw it through the side into that insert. I dislike output jacks on the soundboard of guitars.

Neck: Gibson normal 24.75" scale, not the Byrdland 23.5" scale. White/Black/White binding around the fingerboard with a squared off bottom (not fancy pointed like a Byrdland) with split diamond fret markers. Similarly bound headplate with some inlay there too. Schaller or Grover 15:1 or 18:1 sealed tuners.

Appearance: Natural maple soundboard: No sunburst or shading at all. If possible, some sort of non-yellowing finish. Back/sides/neck: Maybe mahogany/rosewood, or just stained that brown with a hint of red/purple colour. Ebony or rosewood fretboard. Tortoise pickguard. Bone pick up rings. Chrome hardware.

Electronics: Basic 2 humbucker, 2 volume, 2 tone, and neck/blend/bridge selector. I’d want it wired so in blend, I can turn down the volume of one PU all the way and still be able to play through the other pickup.

Here’s where my fantasy is stuck, the controls. I’d want each PU (did I mention they’re 4 wire ones?) to go through a double pole triple throw (2p3t) switch to select series, single coil, parallel (not necessarily in that order). I’m not a fan of mini-toggle switches. Now, the PU selector for a Byrdland (and LP, for that matter) is on the upper bass bout. On the ESs and SG, it’s near the V & T knobs. I’m up in the air about the location of this. Also, about the 2p3t switches … I think there are 2p3t push pull 500K pots available. Another possibility are 2 regular sized toggle switches (smaller than the PU selector) either on the cutaway or the upper bass bout (consider George Harrison’s single and double cutaway Gretsch guitars), or as a third possibility, maybe rotary 2p3t switches with knobs similar to the V & T knobs in line with the V & T knobs (I hate the chicken beak knobs on the ES-345/355/Lucille).

So, what do you guitarheads think?

Note: after I have this control issue resolved, only then will I think about a standard Tune-O-Matic bridge vs a Tune-O-Matic with piezo transducers.

Are either of these close?

Use either as a base?

No. Not to convert one into my Fantasy ax. There are lots of things one can change on a guitar, but I don’t see changing the sound board, back, and one of the sides.

The Johnny A Signature model has a Florentine double cutaway.
The ES-137 has a Florentine single cutaway.

Body wise, the ES-137 is closer. But the Johnny A has the binding around the fretboard and headplate that I’d prefer and you can’t swap set-in necks like you can bolt-ons. Of the two as is, I prefer the Johnny A EXCEPT for the Bigsby tailpiece. Other than for “Summertime Blues”, I never used the vibrato tailpiece on my Stratocaster; usually I left the handle in the case. And I’d rather not have to tune each string 3 times when I’m tuning up, so I prefer a stop tailpiece. I’m not crazy about the finish on either one, but I imagine throwing enough money at Gibson would take care of that. I prefer the larger size of the ES-137.

I guess if I HAD to choose either one off the shelf, I’d go with the ES, but it wouldn’t be My Fantasy Guitar, but both are in the neighborhood.

Not a bad eye, WordMan.

Hey - that’s my job. I was just trying to dialing in what I was reading. I would assume that Gibson’s Custom Shop has some flexibility for what you…customize ;). If you can start with an ES-137 or Johnny A base, then vary. You can either have them wire it up special, or receive it with standard Gibson wiring and get it fancied up from there.

You haven’t stated budget, but you could try calling Gibson, and have a conversation. Or heck, call Heritage, the small builders in Kalamazoo who were former Gibson employees.