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Lowe Custom Guitars goes OEM...you can too!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BeeTL, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    I think this is the right forum for this thread as it is about building basses, but with a slightly different twist.

    I've stumbled on a little known "secret" in the Made in the USA guitar industry.

    Perhaps it's just something that most people don't give much thought to, but for the little guitar builder with big dreams, it's like being given the keys to the kingdom.

    So, what is it?

    A builder like me can produce a product FROM DAY ONE that competes directly with the best of the best, simply because many of them buy their parts from the same place, Best Guitar Parts.

    The problem is, because of non-disclosure agreements, BGP can't talk about the work they do for other builders.

    But I don't intend to have them sign an NDA, so I can talk about them and, if they like, they can talk about what they're doing for me.

    I think this could be a LOT of fun...more to come!

  2. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    A little more info...

    Here is a link to the Best Guitar Parts Custom & OEM page:


    A little background on who is behind BGP.

    Andrew (Andy) Artz is the owner of BGP; many don’t know him by his name, but by his work.

    Andy is the man responsible for all of the CNC programming that USACG uses in its production work to this day.

    Most agree that USACG’s products are second to none.

    As a matter of fact, when I was looking to have my bodies and headstocks CNC milled, Tommy at USACG is one several people who suggested I reach out to BGP directly for what I wanted to do.

    I’m aware of at least one builder who is open about using BGP as their OEM source for bodies and necks: Gigliotti: www.gigliottiguitars.com/about.html

    Google: Gigliotti “Best Guitar Parts” or Gigliotti Andy Artz

    There may be more, but that’s a good place to start.
  3. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    I got these from Andy at BGP via email today...:cool:

    I know they're not to scale with each other, btw.

    LCGGuitarDesignCAD.jpg LCGBassDesignCAD.jpg
  4. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Brad -

    It is, of course, possible to farm out parts manufacture to a 3rd party, but for a number of us, that would take a lot of the enjoyment out of the process.

    I, for one, really enjoy carving a neck, gluing up body and neck laminations, etc. If I had a CNC machine, I would use it, but I'm not sure that I would enjoy building as much if I were farming out 80% of the work to someone else. I just think it would take a lot of the therapeutic aspects away, and make it more like "just another job".

    That isn't to say that this wouldn't work for some people, especially those who have more orders backed up than they have adequate time to build them, and it certainly would speed up the build process, provided you were making instruments that didn't require special body laminations, etc.
  5. Markpotato


    Jul 19, 2012
    Eureka Springs, AR
    Luthier, Sorrentino Guitars

    I noticed this same user posted this at TDPRI too, sounded a little fishy to my ears. Kind of like marketing.

    On a side note, and this is not a personal attack, those bass shapes are hideous.
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Brad's cool, he's been on here before and I've never noticed any fishiness with him. I think these kinds of threads get a little confusing just from nomenclature. For example, I would refer to this kind of production as more "assembly" or "instrument production" than building per se, however that does not necessarily detract from the quality or value of their product. By the same token, I would not refer to Fender as a "builder" either as they don't "build" much, but they are a major producer of musical instruments.

    I would personally classify building as creation and manufacture of the majority of the materials that go into the construction of a guitar. I would not classify a company that purchases ready built components and assembles them into instruments and adds a finish, as a "builder" either - no matter how custom they turn out to be. But as I've said above, I don't think that necessarily detracts from the quality or value of their products.

    Where I think this gets sticky is that some are of the opinion that assembling instruments and referring to oneself as a "builder" is disingenuous, but I prefer to reserve that judgment for when the person actually behaves in a manner that is more universally recognized as disingenuity...
  7. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    But you also can't deny the fact that the vast majority of the guitar industry operates this way, although it isn't often disclosed.

    I've always been a fan of F-style instruments and have been working over the last three years to create a niche for myself in that market space.

    Along the way I've discovered that I have skin allergies that cause my hands to crack and bleed while doing the woodworking and finishing that you enjoy so much.

    I've spent quite a bit of time and money on tools and materials and have learned a great deal by participating in bass and guitar forums over the years.

    When I find something that I think may be of interest to other builders or members, I pass it along.

    In hindsight, I wish someone had told me about BGP three years ago.

    It would have saved me a lot of time and money.
    That's kind of like saying, "No offense intended, but you're a #$@*."


    But you're right, my designs can be polarizing.

    Still, enough people seem to like what I'm doing that I don't get discouraged, and I keep moving forward.

    I learned a TON in the years I've been reading and posting at TDPRI, but don't recall ever hearing about BGP's OEM services.

    For that matter, I think I'm the only one over there who has applied for and received Trademark protection for a headstock design.

    It may be that what I'm doing now is far enough outside the "Tele" realm that I don't really belong there any more.

    Something to think about.

    Oh, here's the Trademark, by the way:


    Thanks for the kind words.

    I think the title of Designer/Custom Shop is appropriate, as is Manufacturer.

    What I'm doing is what most manufacturers are doing these days, with the exception that my product is made in the USA.
  8. Herbie Chesnutt

    Herbie Chesnutt Guest

    Mar 19, 2010
    Wake Forest, NC
    I gotta disagree. I'd totally go down on a seafoam green one of those. Replace those boring jazz pups with some snarly chrome buckers and i'd do unspeakable things to it. :eyebrow:
  9. Nidan


    Oct 31, 2008
    Duluth , Ga
    thanks for the link
  10. B_E_A_D_G


    Sep 17, 2011
  11. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes the tree Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    I don't see any benefit over the traditional J-Bass shape - I guess the shape is for someone who just needs to be "special."

    Dan K.
  12. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Or someone that doesn't want or like the same shaped bass that everyone else plays. The design isn't really my style, but if I said it was a bad design it would kind of make me look like a douche.
  13. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    I've been called much worse than special...:cool:

    Speaking of special, this is my current favorite:


    Mike's work is special, indeed.
  14. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Please understand that I'm not criticizing your decision to move in this direction, nor anyone else's choice to do the same. There have been times that I considered farming out at least body manufacturing, simply as a time saver, but at the moment, I think it would make what I do seem more tedious, and more like "a job" than "a hobby that pays". Granted, I can't produce on the same volume level that I could if I farmed out the work, but I can hand-select each piece of wood, line up grain to my satisfaction, and cover myself in a fine layer of bloodwood dust, at least until I develop a sensitivity to it.

    I can definitely understand that issue. I have already developed sensitivities to some woods, and have had to be particularly careful when handling/working with certain materials. I find that I use a lot of latex gloves and long sleeved shirts when working with certain woods and finishes.
  15. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    You're not kidding...it's a big deal.

    Allergies run in my family, but I've been pretty lucky, up until now.

    I have to use cortisone cream on my hands every day now, even without working in the shop.

    Any time I'm near dirt, grease, or chemicals I have to wear gloves, not to mention the protective gear required to work with paint.

    I was looking into an OSHA compliant spray booth for the shop, and that's big $$$, too.

    I'm 47, and I'm really excited about building a business/hobby for profit that I can continue into retirement.

    There may come a day when I can bring some of these processes "in house".

    I've only scratched the surface of what I'd like to be able to do, design-wise, and BGP gives me the chance to jump-start my production and QC capacity without a HUGE capital investment.

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