Before I became a guitar maker, I’ve been a fully professional* performing and recording guitar player for a quarter of a century. During this long time, often I have growled in frustration when a piece of gear let me down. Most guitar players pride themselves in always carrying spare strings; I have those of course, but also (out of experience and necessity) always carry with me a spare guitar and a spare amplifier! You cannot blame stuff for breaking down, but you can blame poor design. I want MY (Teye) guitars to function and be in good playing shape even after 25 years. This is why I put attention to the smallest of details. All of it inspired by my ‘list of bitchings’ that I would carry along on tours, during coffee breaks, so that I could always quickly jot down another little flaw that I’d just remembered. That list carried many coffee stains, but also many stains on the reputation of the gear I’d used over the years. So when I started building guitars for customers, I started out by finding/designing solutions for every problem that I’d written on my LIST OF BITCHINGS.
- * Professional guitar player: Meaning that guitar playing (performing plus recording for other artists as well as my own CD’s (and selling those) was my only source of income, I did not have a side job at the music store (or worse) to make ends meet.
In 1981 my father and I made a bolt-for-bolt copy of my 1969 Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar. She turned out more than perfect and sounded better than the original! I mounted like I did on all my guitars, the Schaller straplock buttons, ever since they came out in the 1970’s. So I put two on the butt of the guitar, A year or so later one screw broke! Now in a see-through guitar, you cannot fix this invisibly! So forever there is now a very visible broken-off screw inside that guitar! This became another item on my bitch list.
Strap buttons also famously work loose. The factory makes the buttons and then packages and sells them with the cheapest screws that they can still get away with. Take the test: from a new set of stap buttons, put a screw between two pairs of pliers and break it. You will be shocked at how easily they break. So I vowed two things: 1st I will put in screws that do not break, and that are long enough so that they will not work loose. So of every set of stap buttons, I immediately throw away the screws, and install them with stainless-steel 2-inch-long (5cm) screws. No, I have not been able to break these with 2 pliers!
I once performed on the then-famous Willie-Nelson-4th-of-July-Picknick outside of Lukenbach, Texas. It was the first time I ever saw Dwight Yoakam perform live and I was sitting on my barstool right next to him onstage, playing the guitar! When my solo came, instead of the beautiful, sweet sound of my guitar, the audience (of about 12,000) heard a very loud crackle thru the extremely powerful festival PA… Somebody had stepped on my cable and I needed a new jack plug… So I install the very best quality of jacks in my Teye guitars, and mout them in such a way that the lug sits on the upper side (so that if someone steps on your cable the contact between cable tip and plug chassis lug is tightened instead of loosened (pull the cable downward and the tip swivels upward – towards where I position the lug! If it breaks, you’ll know it. If it doesn’t break, you will still have good contact instead of thousands of Watts of crackle)
These are just some little details that I put into my guitars, and so far I have not had trouble.