FROM Tony Pasko, Musical Instrument Product Manager:
|For many musicians (myself included), Peavey has always been involved with our music making, in one way or another. I grew up playing on Peavey solid-state amps and various guitars; even the PA system always seemed to have a Peavey component or two. This company, under the steady direction of Hartley Peavey, embodied the great American ideal: create solid, trustworthy products at affordable prices for working musicians. And so even though Peavey became an indelible part of our musicial culture, for one reason or another, the company seemed to get unfairly relegated to a second-class status whenever flashier, trendier products surfaced. |
Today, Peavey finds itself back in the game, in a big way. Realizing that every player wants an instrument tailored to their exact needs, but that few have the deep pockets to buy one, Peavey announced the debut of their brand new Custom Shop. A gradual evolution from the earliest days of custom shop building, the Peavey Custom Shop promises to provide countless possibilities and fine craftsmanship at egalitarian prices, a true boon for the modern musician.
We spoke with Tony Pasko and Scott Mire, both of Peavey, about what we can expect from the NAMM launch of the Custom Shop, and where this will take Peavey into the future.
Give us a bit of history? Where did the idea for the Custom Shop first start, and where has that idea taken Peavey?
It started with Hartley Peavey and the EVH custom shop, and has evolved quite a bit into what we now know as the Peavey Custom Shop. We were receiving tons of requests from our customers for custom guitars, and of course retailers like one-of-a-kind stuff, too. Since we have the capabilities to accommodate them, we decided to see where the idea took us. The Cirrus Custom Shop for bass guitars became a very big success – since we launched it two years ago, our custom business has tripled. The satisfaction rate among players is high, as well; most of the people who order a Custom Shop guitar end up placing orders for their second and third guitars. Peavey is known as one of the great USA manufacturers, and there’s still a large segment of musicians who want to play a finely crafted, USAmade instrument. The idea of a “custom” instrument is very attractive. How does this new custom shop tie into the old Peavey EVH Custom Shop?
Only in concept, and “loosely” at that. The EVH Custom Shop featured just one guitar model, and the options offered were limited. The new Peavey Custom Shop will cover multiple models and offer many more options. Although we are launching the web application with a single model – the HP Special – the Peavey Custom Shop will soon expand to cover other models and features. Of course, we still build custom versions of any USA model instrument to spec. Those orders can be placed through a local retailer or by giving us a call. How long has the Cirrus Custom Shop been creating high-end basses? How successful has that been for Peavey?
For the past 2-years, the Cirrus Custom Shop has been a great way for us to interact with our customers and get feedback directly from them. It all keeps in line with Hartley Peavey’s vision for the company. Since day one, customer involvement has been vital to our growth, and it really helps us keep our finger on the pulse of what they want. The customer involvement has also allowed us to tell our story to the people that matter the most – our customers. Who’s heading up the Custom Shop? What kind of experience do they bring to the shop?
Tim Litchfield, our head luthier, has been with Peavey for more than 20 years. He built the majority of the EVH custom guitars. The man eats, sleeps and breathes guitars. He is truly one of the best guitar builders on the planet. Could you name drop a bit? Any major players ripping it up on a Peavey custom?
We’ve built custom guitars for Edward Van Halen, Greg Howe, Dweezil Zappa, Jerry Donahue, Marc Rizzo, John Taylor, David Ellefson, Bo Bice and Alessandro Benvenuti, an insanely talented player from across the pond. Nashville guys like Kenny Vaughan, who plays with Marty Stuart, and Chris Rodriguez, who plays with Keith Urban, are playing Omniac JD models. What is your overall vision for the instruments produced? Who will be buying these instruments? What have these musicians been clamoring for?
We feel that we’re making custom-quality instruments available to everyone, because we don’t charge such a premium that only a select few can afford them. Our clientele has included some of the most talented, discerning players of our time, as well as lots of working professionals and collectors. Most of our customers are looking for rare and brilliant woods and custom finishes, and we specialize in those areas. But aside from that, we design our instruments to be an extension of the players’ arms; you shouldn’t have to wrestle a guitar, you know?
We’ve created very ergonomic designs and have developed special ways of using woods. For example, the HP Special is our most popular model for custom players, and we use birdseye maple – known to be a softer wood – for the neck and fretboard. In order for the birdseye to work, we developed a dual graphite-rod system that keeps the neck rigid. Players get the tone and comfort of birdseye without the drawbacks. That’s the kind of thing that makes Peavey different. Can you tell us about the life of these special instruments? How long do they take to produce, how much staff works on each one, and so on?
When a custom order comes in, Tim reviews it and hand-picks the woods and materials that are needed for the guitar. We select the woods according to which grains will look the best for the color selected. An instrument with a transparent finish or stain should have a brilliant flame or quilt to it.
At every step of the custom shop, you will see the customer’s name next to the instrument so that everyone knows that this guitar is being built for someone. Adding the “human factor” is just a small reminder of how personal our instruments are to their owners. Our turnaround time on a custom guitar, depending on the options, has been 90 to 120 days, and we have a staff of 25 men and women who take a huge amount of pride in what they do. What models will you be offering through the shop? Just how much customization will be possible for the average player?
We are launching the web application with the HP Special in flat-top, carvedtop and pearloid-top configurations, then we will expand it to include the HP Signature, HP Select and Omniac, and onward from there. Right now you can choose your body, top and fretboard woods, inlays, hardware, colors and bursts, but will soon expand to pickup configurations, colors, graphics, binding and bridge options. FROM Scott Mire, Web Manager:
So what are your plans for your web interface? What should we be expecting?
The web interface and funtionality represents the latest trends in RIA (Rich Internet Applications). Plainly put, it is a web application that behaves like a desktop application, with no webpage submitting or refreshes required. Everything happens in real-time right before your eyes. A lot of thought went into the layout and usability of the application, with the goal being a product that was not only extremely usable and practical, but actually a whole lot of fun. It launches at Winter NAMM at PeaveyCustomShop.com.
Our goal was to allow the user to pick any color that could be represented on the screen and then translated to paint. Our color selector will allow you to “scroll” through the color spectrum and see the results on the virtual guitar in real time. There are actually only a finite number of colors to choose from, so basically we are saying, “Here are 16,777,216 colors. Choose one.” As Hartley Peavey has always said, you can’t be better unless you’re different. This is definitely different!