Here’s a fact – anyone can build a guitar. In the opening moments of the guitar documentary It Might Get Loud, Jack White builds a guitar from an old pickup, a piece of steel cable, a coke bottle, a board, and a nail. There are kits you can buy online and Ebay parts stores galore that make it possible for any old asshole to make a fiddle that makes a guitar noise.
So what is it that separates the $500 factory-made off-the-rack jobbers from the real deal? The differences may seem small in picture or video form, but the second you hold one or the other in your hands, it becomes glaringly obvious – the complete package tells the whole story, not a list of specs. A guitar needs to be a complete thought from start to (matte or high-gloss) finish, and every decision made along the way should complement the instrument, and the player, and the sound. Any instrument’s price can be summed up in three basic categories – parts, labor, and expertise. The price of parts is usually somewhat less than you or I would pay, as large companies get bulk discounts and even small luthiers generally get deals of some kind, labor is non-negotiable because the guitar isn’t going to build itself – but the expertise and experience, that’s what you really pay for with a custom guitar – because without that, the other parts of the equation are meaningless.
Equilibrium Guitars is a shop out of Somerville, Massachusetts, whose guitars are built on the expertise of Dave Cohen, an extremely thoughtful and detail-oriented luthier whose guitars are masterworks of premeditation. Every part of the guitar is considered as the balance of the complete instrument, and not just for its individual value. The FT7 I was sent for review is a non-custom guitar, the first of its kind for Equilibrium, and part of a limited run that you can be a part of right now (email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process). The guitars will be built in the exact same fashion as every other Equilibrium, made by Dave by hand in his shop, but without the added time and effort of a back-and-forth between him and the customer about options and design – each guitar will be identical, save for the pickups which are customer’s choice. This reduces the price significantly, so you’ll probably never have the chance to own an Equilibrium for less than what you’ll pay for one of these.
Here’s the specs and info for the run:
That number may seem high, but keep in mind that it’s around $1k less than you’d pay for a fully custom guitar from Dave, and that what you’re paying for is a flawless guitar that’s a dreamboat from the word go. Everything about it is perfect and comfy as hell, and it sounds spectacular. The bridge is a more comfortable Hipshot, this one was originally made as a drop-in replacement for the Ibanez hardtail, and as much as I love the standard Hipshot bridge, this one is better. The color is just stunning in a 3D Mariana Blue tung oiled flame maple top, and the dark, streak-free ebony fretboard provides a nice visual contrast. And as I mentioned earlier, the proof is in the pudding – I have held this masterpiece in my hands, and I have felt the might of the sum of its parts as one total guitar to rule them all.
If you have the means, I highly recommend getting in on the Equilibrium FT7 run by emailing Dave at email@example.com, and start your journey towards owning a piece of fine art that you can shred. The run was originally open to only 10 builds, but a limited number of extra spots have been opened, so get on it!