The word “custom” is one of the most bandied-about terms in the
guitar industry. It is often mistaken to mean, “Choose from among
our handful of ‘custom’ options.” The word custom should mean,
“Tell us what you want and we’ll find a way to get it done.”
That’s what Canadian guitar parts designer Greasy Groove is all
about: getting custom ideas out of your head and onto your guitar,
whether it’s a unique pickguard design, knob, control plate, neck
plate, truss rod cover, piece of hardware or tailpiece.
If there’s anything real guitarists can learn from the immensely
popular game Guitar Hero, it’s that people love the idea of being
able to play the guitar. Unfortunately, those games are creating
highly unrealistic ideas of how music is made, frustrating many
an actual guitar player with children. This leaves them caught
between the joy of seeing their kid express a genuine desire to
play and the disappointment of seeing them pick up a plastic, fake
guitar and spend hours with it instead of the 3/4 scale Squire they
got for Christmas.
We discovered Greasy Groove when our editorial staffer who
plays in a Buffett cover band was trying to get a Tele pickguard
with a Hawaiian shirt pattern on it. He sent Greasy Groove a picture of a homemade Hawaiian shirt and asked if they could use
the pattern. The only problem was he wasn’t sure what color he
wanted. They lifted the pattern, cleaned it up and emailed him
a simulated picture of the pickguard in three different colors. He
went with the off-black and they put it directly onto a 5-screw
pickguard. The price was reasonable and he was screwing it onto
his guitar two weeks later.
Don’t give up. There’s another gateway device for fusing the video
game-driven mentality of today’s youth with the idea of actually
learning to play the guitar – it’s called GuitarGames.net.
GuitarGames.net is an online collection of videogames that does
what Guitar Hero doesn’t. It can teach you how to play guitar or
at least enhance the associated skills and knowledge involved.
The site’s nine simple games (okay, mostly simple) involve learning
the fretboard, testing your guitar trivia knowledge, developing your
ear, learning to read music and getting a grip on theory. Perhaps
cheesy compared to today’s video games, the simple graphics get
the job done. After a while you realize the games aren’t just for
kids; they are a great way for anyone to sharpen their skills.
Greasy Groove’s website will take you a while to cruise. The pictures of what they do with guitar parts are not only interesting but
inspiring. They specialize in themes you don’t see elsewhere: old
sci-fi movies, pinups, Westerns, horror, Jesus and animals. You’re
likely to find something ready to go and therefore won’t have to
custom order anything. We got a kick out of their huge selection of Les Paul “dress up kits” that include customs graphics on
a pickguard, truss rod cover, neck plate, back cover and pickup
selector switch plate.
As far as pickguards go, the company has plenty of stock creations for Strats, Teles, LPs and Gretches but they can custom cut
pickguards for any guitar. In terms of neck plates, we doubt you’ll
find anyone with cooler ones or a bigger selection.
The man behind the games is William Wilson, a guitar player
and instructor who taught himself how to program games.
“There’s something about our competitive nature that gets
involved with these games,” Wilson tells us. “I had one student
in particular who had a hard time playing out of the first position at first. After some time with these games, he suddenly
knew the entire neck!”
The games are free once you register to the site. A $14.95/year
premium membership gives you different capabilities within the
games that are designed to help you learn even faster. The premium membership also gives you access to stats for progress
tracking and the ability to focus the games around certain levels of
play, which makes them easier for beginners.
Get customized at greasygroove.com