Have you always been playing Telecasters?
What have you discovered about the instru-
ment over the years?
Absolutely not. I did the same thing that
Danny [Gatton] did; I was playing Gibsons for
years before I got to the Telecaster thing. The
Telecaster thing started in the D.C. area because
Roy Buchanan was playing. And nobody had
ever heard anybody do that with a Tele before,
so it opened up a lot of our heads about what
you could actually do with that guitar.
So we started playing those guitars, and then
we discovered their shortcomings. There’s a lot
of great attributes to the’ 53 Tele. It’s odd to
think that the first production guitar would end
up being the best platform all of these years
out, but we didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t
get the guitar to intonate. The bridge plate
was floating on the guitar; there was enough
space to slip your business card under the front
of it, and with the bridge plate not making full
contact with the body, it would oscillate, causing
the pickup to feedback and squeal. So we knew
that was kind of screwed up. Also, the necks
would loosen and shift in the pocket, causing
What did you do to address problems with
the neck pocket?
In the process of addressing this, and the other
shortcomings, we ended up creating a new
paradigm in solidbody guitar construction. We
designed, engineered and produced high-quality hardware based on this theory of mechanical
connection. With repeated removal of the neck
for adjustments and service, the wood screw
holes would strip out, allowing the neck to shift.
We came up with a system where we drill and
tap the hard rock maple and install carbon steel
threaded anchors. We also replaced the wood
screws with stainless steel machine threaded
screws. Our choice of hardware allowed us to
retain the vintage look, but without the neck
shift. And with the neck drawn down under
maximum compression, the result is unparalleled resonance and sustain.
How did you apply the concepts to the rest of
The saddles are made of the best material—no
cheap stuff here—and I actually invented the
vintage-style barrels that intonate perfectly. With
the bridge we started with a special alloy that
enhances tonal characteristics and sits flat on
the body, transferring maximum string energy
and sustain. Because of the special alloy we
use, our bridge does not affect the sensitive
magnetic flux field of the pickups; the pickup
sees only the vibrating strings. The hardware is
machined, not stamped. I make every piece by
hand personally—I consider it a real art. Others
have tried and failed to match my quality of
craft or tone, but it all starts in my hands.
Why aren’t more guys doing it your way?
Mass producers can’t do it my way. The handmade quality comes from being a true craftsman and artist. I have total command of my
skills and tools. Most guitar guys don’t have the
same expertise, knowledge and creative ideas.
The ones that do can’t execute it in the same
way. We’re all unique in our talents; I happen to
be a player and a builder. I’ve never understood
builders who can’t play on a professional level
or push the envelope of their designs. Necessity
is the mother of invention; Danny Gatton and I
had to build our own Tele-style guitars because
there wasn’t anything commercially available at
the time that met the demands of our playing,
and our pursuit of perfection.
What is your flagship model?
I make total art-style guitars called the DG5394
and 5394. I’ve spent years refining them to be
the finest handmade Tele-style guitars available anywhere, handmade with premium old-growth wood completely by me. Other than
the fretwire, tuners and stainless screws, we
manufacture everything else—from an exact-replica of a ’ 53 Tele body to handmade Charlie
Christian pickups. All of the patterns, templates
and fixtures are based on my Tadio Gomez ’ 53
Esquire and are dimensionally accurate to .020”.
You can’t tweak them any further!
What kind of pickups are you using
in the 5394?
The two basic options available are the “
vintage-style” handwound single coils spun on
Danny Gatton’s homemade pickup winding
machine that he had wound on since 1967.
He even showed Seymour Duncan how he
wound flatpole Broadcaster pickups on this
unit back in the day! This also includes the
“Chuck Christian” models on the DG5394.
For the hi-fi humbucking freaks, we incorporate the “rocket science” designs of pickup
giants Bill and Becky Lawrence.
Who are you guitars meant for?
Vintique guitars are for anyone who loves
the fifties-style Teles, but requires a no-holds-barred platform to execute the highest order
of functionality in this type of instrument. It’s as
versatile as the artist playing it. Tele giants from
James Burton to The Hellecasters use our hardware, and Danny Gatton, Bill Kirtchen and Jim
Weider have played the guitars as well. Vintique
is also currently building guitars for Vince Gill
and jam band king Steve Kimock.
Some people have raked you over the coals
for fulfillment problems and lengthy waits. Is
Thanks for asking that! The music business and
industry as a whole can be tough. It’s not easy
to be an artist making music or to achieve a
high art in manufacturing. Unless you have a
golden horseshoe buried where it counts, it’s
a labor of love. I’ve been dragged about with
promises and been taken advantage of, and
unfortunately some of my clients have had to
endure the lows with me. The good news is that
this year my pal Steve at Angela Instruments will
be distributing our hardware, and I’ll have guitars at Gothic City Guitars as well.