Why should I get a glass guitar?
As far as I can tell there are only a few all glass guitars in existence and the majority of them probably have my name on them. A glass guitar is something only a handful people own. People are fascinated by them. I took one to Guitar Center to try on some straps one day. Everyone in the store turned their heads and just stared in amazement. Sometimes they assume its acrylic but when you say it's glass their heads explode.
Musicians need everything they can to stand out in the massive crowd they're in. A glass guitar gets attention.
I have literally shed blood, sweet, and tears to create glass guitars that have the same “feel” as their traditional counterparts. They aren’t fragile art pieces meant for hanging on the wall. They are built to be played. If you're looking for something truly unique a glass guitar might be for you. If you're a tone fiend like me glass guitars sound like no other.
What does it sound like?
See link to videos/sound samples
The tone is quite warm/rich and the sustain is phenomenal. The way glass resonates creates some interesting harmonics. Subtle enough not to distract from the general tone, but present enough to give a glass guitar its own unique tone profile. When I decided to make my first glass guitar I had no idea what it would sound like. My curiosity and deep desire to hear the sound was the primary driving force that kept me from giving up. Thankfully it payed off in the end. The tone is better than I ever imagined.
Why build a glass guitar in the first place?
I had many reasons but there were three main reasons in particular that stand out. One reason was I simply wanted to own a glass guitar. The novelty of the idea was appealing to me. There are few glass guitars in existence as far as I can tell. I wanted something truly unique, and I thought it would look pretty damn cool! A second reason was my curiosity. I wanted to know what a glass guitar would sound like. My third reason was that I just wanted to see if it was possible to build a functional glass guitar. I had a vision in my head and wanted to make it a reality. Sometimes I look at one of my guitars and I can’t believe I managed to do it. Especially given the few resources I had to start with and what little experience I had.
I graduated from college and didn’t feel like I really achieved much. After I built my first glass guitar I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride I had never experienced before. I’m going to continue to chase that feeling.
How much do they weigh?
Depends on the body style but 13-14 pounds is the average. If you think that’s too heavy consider this; I’m a short guy. 5’3” and 125lbs wet. If I can handle the weight you can too. If you're playing a show, switch out guitars. Make busting out the glass guitar a part of your act and watch the crowd go wild.
Will I cut myself on it?
No. the edges are sanded smooth. Don’t worry.
What if it chips, cracks, or breaks?
Like any guitar, a glass guitar can be damaged if mishandled. It won’t shatter into a thousand pieces if you bump it against something. They’re surprisingly durable. I use insanely strong adhesives (I'm picking up a 17 pound early prototype by the strap button that's glued to the body.) Also I can stand on the neck and it won’t break, I don't recommend trying this. I'm just trying to prove a point. (pictures are at the bottom for mobile users)
What if I drop it?
This is sometimes expressed more like a sarcastic comment than a question. I gets old after a while. If “dropping” a guitar is a common thing for you to do, I’m not sure we should do business together...
How do you build them? Or how do you do XYZ?
I understand your curiosity. A glass guitar presents many questions. However, something that I love about my work are the challenges I encounter. I enjoy having to come up with creative solutions to make guitar out of glass. Every guitar is another chance to experiment. With that being said, I’m no artist nor am I an engineer. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology. The only experience I had with glass came from three months working in a window repair shop. I figured out how to do this by looking stuff up, trying new things, and making mistakes.
I will say this. I use a high quality glass cutter, various diamond tools and abrasives, and some insanely strong adhesives. I cut, grind, and shape the glass by hand. My techniques are all “coldwork” Meaning I don’t use torches or kilns in my process. I choose cold-working methods for two reasons. I don’t know how to use a kiln or blowtorch on glass and don’t have a place to do that kind of work even if I wanted to. Also the glass I use is factory made for commercial applications. It goes through quality controlled heating and cooling steps which make it a stronger material to work with.
Why do you build them by hand?
Even if I wanted to let other companies handle some of the production process it wouldn’t help all that much. At least not at the stage we're at now. Glass guitars enthusiasts are a small niche and I hope it stays relatively small. Out of curiosity I contacted a company for a quote on a glass fretboard. It would have cost $1500 to start and $300 per piece. Just for a fretboard! Also I would still have to cut out the fret slots and everything else. By doing everything myself I have more flexibility. Building a glass guitar is challenging and I need to be able to tweak certain things during the process. I couldn’t do that easily if other companies were involved.
I could in theory get all my glass cut and shaped through several different companies, but where’s the fun in that? I enjoy my work too much to let someone else do it for me.
However, over time if I can somehow find a way to get the majority of the work that goes into building a glass guitar handled by other companies I wouldn't be opposed to making a short run of a particular model if it could be produced at a reasonable price. I want to make glass guitars for anyone who wants one. If there is a way to accomplish that in the future I will consider it.