Not so long ago, Boston-area musicians Austin Bousley and Travis Alexander found themselves suffering from the same affliction that plagues countless guitarists. The gear-junkie friends had budgets that simply couldn’t satiate their taste for the vintage, custom, and unique instruments they’d “constantly drool over” at local shops. And feeling that many modern-day production instruments lacked what they loved in vintage and custom guitars, they decided they wanted to do something about it. “We wanted to see more craft and soul come back into the guitar market and wanted to be a part of that,” says Bousley.
About six years ago, the two started out slowly by hot rodding and refinishing guitars they already owned. Not long after that, they partnered with two other friends and officially launched Venture Guitars as a team of four. Today, the mostly self-taught group of builders works out of a shop in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where they build custom instruments in whatever style and configuration their customers can dream up.
Bousley says his crew’s community mindset and passion sets them apart. “We love music, the scene that surrounds it, and the players themselves,” he says. “We work closely with each customer and try to deliver the guitar they want, and we’re willing to try and build anything.” He thinks this willingness is the main difference between Venture Guitars and other builders. “We haven’t just built guitars we liked and sold them,” he continues. “We’ve been building fully custom guitars for each customer, so we can bring that connection between the player and their instrument back to life.”
Though Venture has been building only completely handmade, 100 percent custom guitars thus far, the outfit will soon offer a production model of sorts with their Anna Lee design, which incorporates the use of CNC. That said, their custom offerings will remain completely handmade. The production-model aspect of the Anna Lee is certainly a departure for the company, but the planned price point of $2,200 will be more accessible for many than a typical custom build. “We are currently going nuts experimenting with the sound for the Anna Lee,” says Bousley. “We still haven’t officially decided what we’re going to put into them, but we have a pretty good idea where we’re going to go.”
Venture is “pretty all over the place” when it comes to inspiration for their designs, but Bousley says the entire team loves the newer, prog look that some builders are doing, as well as soulful, vintage Fenders. “I know it’s cliché, but it’s a P bass from the ’70s that really gets me, or an old SG or Rickenbacker,” he says. “There’s just something about a guitar that old that has a story to it. And that’s where we all come together—making something with a story.”
Venture also accommodates low-enders, and this is a fine example of the luthier’s custom bass offerings. Built for a southpaw, the P-style body is carved from alder and paired with a 1-piece maple neck that’s topped with a quarter-sawn-maple fretboard. Both the block inlays and pickguard are cut from 5A-rated flame maple and stained green. An Aguilar AJ-60 Jazz-style pickup in the neck and a Music Man humbucker in the bridge give it the ability to deliver a wide range of bass tones.
Painted “plum crazy,” this solidbody one-off has a head-turning silver-sparkle finish and a pair of silver racing stripes. Built for New Found Glory guitarist Steve Klein, the 25.5"-scale guitar boasts other aesthetic standouts like the grouping of mother-of-pearl inlay along the length of the ebony fretboard and the Venture logo—also cut from MOP. The deep purple #00117 is packed with a single EMG 81 humbucker in the bridge.
For this classic-looking semi-hollowbody, Venture didn’t hold back on the master-grade, 5A-rated flame maple, using it for the top, truss-rod cover, control-cavity cover, and back of headstock veneer. Other appointments include the Gibson Super 400-style block-inlay markers that grace the ebony fretboard, mother-of-pearl side markers, and a bone nut. Choosing a classic pickup combo, #00013 is outfitted with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a Jazz in the neck.
Pricing and Availability
The typical wait for a custom-built guitar from Venture Guitars is currently 6–10 months, depending on the build. With plans to produce the Anna Lee in batches of 10, players will likely be able to get their hands one of these models quicker. Venture does direct orders through an online quote/order form, where buyers list all the components and specs that will make up their custom instrument. Pricing for a custom Venture guitar varies with build, but typically falls in the $3,000 to $4,500 range.