GMW Guitar Works
How did you get into painting guitars?
graphics. With the Empire line, we blended
it in a manner where we’ll have exotic
woods, but the overlays on those will be
intense graphics. We’ll cover the traditional
guys with straight ahead paint schemes and
colors—guys into graphics and eye-catching
designs—but also a blend of both those
worlds. While they may want different paint
jobs and graphics, our client base seems to
be rooted in that Jackson/Charvel camp of
smokin’ guitars and crazy, colorful designs.
guitars for Pat Smear of the Foo Fighters,
Michael Anthony and Dweezil Zappa.
Its funny because my background isn’t in art
or paint… I graduated from Stanford with a
Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. After
doing that in the field for a few years, I realized that I couldn’t do that the rest of my
life. I actually got my foot in the door while
searching for a keyboard in the eighties. The
guy who was selling it to me introduced me
to Wayne Charvel. From that point, I had
Wayne build me some guitars, and then I met
Neal Moser because Wayne was working with
BC Rich. Moser got me into the industry by
building, and then as we moved into the nineties, it became more autonomous with GMW.
For painting, I set up my own booth in 1990
– 1991, and I had another guy that did all the
painting. I just learned by watching over his
shoulder, and in 1995 I just took it all over
and painted everything myself. I just shut up,
watched and took other painters’ advice.
Why should someone buy a GMW guitar?
Are you guys willing to do custom orders
on paint or graphics?
I think because we give you the most bang for
your buck. We simply don’t have the massive
overhead that the bigger guitar companies
carry, which equates to consistent value. In
addition, we listen to what you have to say
and what you’re looking for in a guitar, and we
make sure the end result is better than what
you expected—its all about customer service
and satisfaction at GMW. In fact, I answer all
the emails personally and within 24 hours.
What prompted you to go into the cus-
tom, hot-rodded paint world?
I think my influences started from just admiring the Jackson/Charvel and BC Rich companies back in the eighties. I’m a product of the
Van Halen, George Lynch and Journey generation. My graphic artist, Dan Lawrence, used
to work for Jackson and BC Rich, so I sort of
followed into that mold because I loved and
identified with those guitars. I wasn’t really a
wood-based kind-of-a-guy back then; I was
more interested in the graphics and flash on
the guitars of those rock bands during that
era. We started doing repairs and modifications on Jackson/Charvel and BC Rich guitars, and that’s how I built the GMW name.
Yes, we’re open to custom graphics and paint
ideas, but with our extensive online archives,
people usually find either a design or paint
scheme usually find either a design or paint
scheme that works for them. And if nothing
else, it provides them a starting point. People
just go through our “Generator” on the site
and design the guitar how they want, with
several options for each area and components
of the guitar. When it comes to the paint,
they just simply refer to the archived graphic
or paint, and we can reapply that design or
graphic to their particular body style. Even if
the two guitars are different, they can get a
basic feeling of what will be the end product.
What seems to be the go-to setup and
paint style people go with at GMW?
As we moved into the nineties and the new
millennium, I became disinterested in that kind
of work—just this year I stopped doing repairs,
modifications and new paint jobs on guitars
from other companies, so we could focus solely
on GMW and Empire guitars. I just turned
fifty-five, so I wanted to take my company in its
own direction before the wife puts the hammer
down and makes me come home.
I’d say most of them are going to be like
a Fender Strat or Jackson-esque guitars,
which is our SS model. Our graphics and
paint schemes seem to just flow and fit better on those styles of guitars. Probably just
another nod to our influences… the eighties rock/metal movement, in line with the
Jackson Soloist models. But we do stuff on
the LP-style, a Star-style and even quite a
few Tele-style guitars too.
What are some paint schemes that
embodies what GMW is all about?
I’d have to say our hot-rod flame, snakeskin
and camouflage models are our most popular,
with additional paint schemes on request.
What models of guitars are you
We still have our influences from the eighties and nineties flowing in our shop with the
Who are some artists you’ve done work for?
The most recent were the two polka dot flying Vs for Zakk Wylde, plus we have also built