Customs is a brand of guitar makers from the "lost" village of Creuzier-Le-Vieux, located in the south
of France, a village of a mere 3.000 habitants. Three of whom are passionate
guitarists-artisans who share a love for vintage and custom work via the
"old style." From the beginning of production down to the tiniest of
details, their instruments are made to
order for Rock ’n’ Roll.
Blaise (marketing & communication), Julien (luthier) and Reno (design & marketing), along with the support of a faithful community of fans and clients, work hard to debunk the myth that Rock ’n’ Roll has no place in France.
Their creations caught our attention during the first edition of The Holy Grail Guitar Show: only a little sign that, year after year, their image continues to be solidly built. We think they are on the right track. Keep 'em coming, boys!
1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?
WILD CUSTOMS (Julien): After 15 years of experience as cabinetmaker, in 2007 I decided to design and handcraft my first guitar: the WILDONE #00. On my first guitar I immediately paid a lot of attention to details. A state of mind that will always drive my work as guitar builder. My first guitar features a 7 part through-neck in maple/rosewood/ebony, a slab-body in mahogany with a premium maple top and an inlaid Rock’n’Roll star on the back. After this first attempt, I've followed up with customization of numerous guitars, bass-guitars and even drum sets… During the summer 2007, I've joined the High-energy Rock Band “Ass Bandit” and met Renaud Sauzedde; web designer for “Hawaiisurf.com” at that time. We've quickly decided to found a brand new French guitar company and the production of WILD’s instruments officially started in 2008.
2. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?
WILD CUSTOMS: It’s really difficult to avoid comparison with iconic guitar designs. All the Rock ’n’roll stars we’ve followed as teenagers were playing on Telecaster, Explorer, Stratocaster, Les Paul and all these notorious guitars… Besides we're massive fans of unmistakable designs such as Rickenbaker’s, Mosrite’s, Airline’s… It obviously has an impact on the way we design our own instruments. Despite this heritage, we've always tried to bring a personal touch, to develop our own visual style, something that would be unique but yet identifiable in each guitar we make. You can obviously find in all our designs homage to existing instruments. We've always been passionate about guitars and rock’n’roll culture. Beyond guitars we are also sharing a passion for the vintage and we collect old cars, old motorcycles, old tools, LP’s, adverts of the 50’s & 60’s, furniture… We’ve spent a lot of time seeking stuffs in car boot sales. This background does explain the artistic direction of the brand and the vintage spirit of our guitars.
3. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?
WILD CUSTOMS: As a builders working on demand we're paying a lot of attention to consumer requests at Wild Customs. Most of our customers are experienced guitarists and know what they want. Then it's up to us to deliver instruments matching with their expectations. In order to please guitarists playing our instruments we're working with all established companies and also with artisanal companies in France and abroad (Hepcat, SP Customs, Mojo Pickups...). In 2015 we're launching a brand new series of guitars on which we will set our own pickups the Wild'Kat. An overwounded PAF 57 pickup that we've developed with Hepcat.
4. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Select one and talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop…or other.
WILD CUSTOMS: Rock is definitely our background as musicians, and music fanatics. From the late 30's to 2015 almost 80 year of classic tunes that we keep listening at the workshop. We can't live without music and the turntable is one of the most important tool at the workshop.
5. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?
WILD CUSTOMS: We've bet on the fact that we could live from our work... We've made a lot of sacrifices to keep the project alive but we've never regretted that choice
6. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?
WILD CUSTOMS: The last record of MASTODON... a few weeks before delivering Brent Hinds his custom made guitar on their last European tour. More recently I've bought "Hisingen Blues" from Graveyard
7. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?
WILD CUSTOMS: Electric... but as a guitar builder at some point I will work on acoustic instruments
8. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?
WILD CUSTOMS: For us the key point is to source premium woods. Wood must be as dry as possible to avoid any issue. It's worth mentioning that we mainly work on demand therefore we discuss tonewood selection for each project. Our goal is to be as close as possible to our customers expectations.
...AND TWO HANDS
9. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by the large manufacturers?
WILD CUSTOMS: It's pointless to fight with the industry. Most of guitars are now manufactured in Asia, you can't fight with the price dumping policy of the big brands and main retailers. Quality and personalization are key and for us, it's the only to survive in this industry
10. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to have play your guitars?
WILD CUSTOMS: So far we've built guitars for Kurt Balou from Converge (Boston / USA), Brent Hinds from Mastodon (Atlanta / USA), John D. Baizley from Baroness (Savannah / USA), Jimbob Isaac from Haark (Wales / UK), Jay WUD (Dubai), Kyle SHUTT from The Sword (Austin / USA), Mikaa Aalto from Rotten Sound (Finland) and both guitarist of Valient Thorr (USA)… The artists we would like to see rocking our instruments are James Hetfield, Dave Grohl, Billy Gibbons, Billy Corgan, Tom Morello...
Available Wild Custom Guitars at Guitars Exchange:
Wild One Sonic Blue
Wild One Sailor
Wild TV Sunburst Mat
Wild TV Butterscotch Relic
Official Wild Customs website: http://www.wildcustomguitars.com