When it comes to ordering a Benjamin guitar
(or any other guitar!) the main and most
important options are of course which body size and which combination of woods will best
give the results you are seeking. These choices will usually be made based on
considerations relating to the instrument's desired response to suit a particular playing style
and the player's tonal taste but, of course, can often also be made with reference to physical
comfort considerations and visual aesthetic preferences.
My focus throughout my building career has
always been on musical function and a simple
clean aesthetic with tasteful combinations of timber colours to produce a beautiful
instrument and so I would encourage anyone ordering one of my instruments to allow me
to keep to my simple but long in development and still constantly evolving style rather than
turning to customization for its own sake. I fully understand the wish for something unique
but please understand every guitar I make is a 'unique' instrument with an individual
character. Even if a guitar is built to 'standard' specifications every aspect of it's voicing is
worked on individually and is also, perhaps, a snap-shot in time of my ever unfolding and
evolving journey into guitar making. Sorry if that sounds a little pretentious - I'm not sure
how else to put it!
Neck and string spacing dimensions are fully customizable - just let me know what suits!
Finger-board position marking dots can
be done in either mother-of-pearl, real silver or a
nice combination of the two, with the option of a plain finger-board front to keep things
really clean looking.
Edgings are generally combinations of
black ebony or more colourful Macassar ebony
and flamed maple with occasional other species such as bloodwood available. My aim is
to enhance the colours of the main timbers chosen for the guitar by best choice of edging
woods. A ring of shell can be added as part of the sound-hole edgings if this appeals.
The 'Benjamin Scoop' cutaway is available
on all models usually in either black or
Macassar ebony to match the chosen bindings. I first came up with this style of cutaway in
2006 but I have since found out that the concept was certainly devised well before then
(mid 80s or earlier), although I am still uncertain if there can be said to be one original
first 'inventor' or several people who had the same idea independantly so I will not list any
names here. Earlier implementations seem to be primarily for classical guitars.
The Linda Manzer 'Wedge body' is used
as standard on larger models and is a no charge
option on smaller guitars. Most guitars are tapered in depth end-to-end but the Manzer
Wedge adds tapering across the guitar as well such that the depth of the bass side beneath
your picking arm is shallower than the side on your leg. Given the way most people hold a
steel-string guitar I feel the Manzer Wedge is just as successful as arm bevels at
increasing comfort and also has zero impact on the structure of a guitar.
The wedge body (or standard body) can
also be combined with my new arm comfort
feature; the Benjamin 'Radius'. The Radius is my alternative to the original Laskin and
Ryan bevels and is designed to have much less impact on the acoustic structure of the
guitar. The Radius is, as its title suggests a rounded or 'radiused' portion of the guitar's
corner, rather like many solid electric guitars have all round and it helps spread the
pressure of the guitar's corner on the picking arm. Unlike faceted 'bevels' it works at
whatever angle you hold your arm at and requires very little modification to the internal
structure (just slightly wider kerfed linings in the area).
I am currently also happy to offer versions
of the well-known Laskin and Ryan angled
bevels if a particular person sits or stands in such a way that this feature does increase
comfort for them or the style appeals. I usually make this feature in a style that matches
my Scoop cutaway.
I do not offer Laskin style extra sound-holes/ports
on my main range of guitars - the
already 'open' sound of my guitars does not benefit to any great extent from this type of
feature. I will however probably offer this feature on my new 'Concert' model which is to
be voiced in a different way to my other guitars.
I have made a few Novax style fan-fret/multi-scale
guitars and I am happy to make guitars
with this feature if it appeals but I only offer a subtle 20mm difference between top and
bottom string's scales length: any more difference puts the bridge at a greater angle than
I feel is structurally sound. Usual options would be 645-665mm or 650-670mm. I
personally don't find this style of construction a magic cure-all for issues associated with
lower tunings or I would make all my guitars with this feature but it can make a subtle
difference and has certain ergonomic benefits for some players.
I originally invented the Benjamin 'Scratch-Patch'
for a prototype guitar I made for Eric
Roche to stop him wearing through the soft cedar top when he made scratching or 'guiro'
sounds on the guitar's surface and it has become a global DIY feature for many
'percussive' players who have been influenced by Eric and Thomas Leeb.
No charge for this feature!!
Note to other makers thinking of producing
instruments with a feature or design clearly
created by another maker:
Please give credit where it is due as far
as you can for features and designs you use as I
have done on this page and the rest of my web-site and try to develop your own over-all
'style' so that even if you use features developed by others, your guitars will not be seen as
'copies'. Every guitar design has come from somewhere but if you take 'influence' from one
main source without permission or without being a pupil of the 'source', this does not show
respect for the years of work that have gone into most makers' personal designs and, in
my opinion, is no basis for a successful career in guitar-building. If a classic design like a
Fender Strat or a Martin D-28 is referenced, everyone knows where the idea came from but
the design work of individual makers is a different matter.
The Benjamin 'Cow-Bell' - a new innovative
percussion feature attached to the head of
one's guitar to create new and pleasing musical effects! Price at customer's discretion.
'A little more Benjamin cow-bell please!'