Apollo

Solidbody, neck-thru electric bass guitar with Maple & walnut neck and body slab, with Zebrawood top and back, dyed maple and purpleheart binding, dyed Maple pickguard and truss rod cover, bound 24-fret ebony fretboard. Hipshot A–style bridge and Ultralight Tuners, Bare Knuckles Jazz bass pickups, with series/parallel switching and an onboard effects loop through a stereo jack.

A new headstock design.

A model I built for an old friend and musical collaborator, Paul Kester, the Apollo was designed to approximate the feel and shape of a Modulus Flea Bass, but with some stylistic divergence and embellishment. One of Paul's old band's flagship tune was called 'Lunar Module', so we worked the name of the instrument and the two main inlay pieces around that reference.

The Apollo 13 Lunar Module inlay on the instrument's back, with a Gold MOP infinity-sign rubberband.

The Mother-of-Pearl Moon Phases were so obvious I couldn't believe it, and I can't believe I haven't seen it done before on a guitar —I'm certain I can't be the first to do this style of fingerboard inlay, but it's likely I'll be using it again. The Apollo 13 Lunar Module on the back features Gold and Black as well as White Mother-of-Pearl, and also sterling silver in a couple spots.

The stereo jack mounted in the instrument's side handles the effects loop's send and return, via a Y-cable that starts with one 1/4" Stereo Plug that splits into two Mono plugs to link from either side of the effects chain. The controls are set up like a traditional Jazz bass setup, with independent volume controls that feed into the same tone control. The Volume knob for the Neck Pickup sits on a push-pull pot which changes the pickups from parallel to series wiring, essentially combining the two single coils into one humbucker —which gives a nice beefy character to the sound, making this a really sonically diverse bass.

Hellacaster

Solidbody electric guitar with Maple & Cherry body, Hardrock Maple neck, dyed maple binding and pickguard, bound 24-fret Maple fretboard. Vintage Tele–style bridge, Duncan Alnico Pro Bridge p/up, Mojotone Twoface neck p/up.

The 'Jester' headstock design —according to Charlie Young of Australia's AMODERNDEATH, this headstock shape really lends to dropped tunings.

A model I built on spec, the Hellacaster is one of three interpretations of a basic double-cutaway body profile, each interpreted after the fashion of, respectively, an SG, a Telecaster and a Strat.

I'd never played on a Tele before, so this was sort of an experiment —I'm not really excited about having to mess with lacquer in the context of frets, but I'm probably going to do more of it. This is a bright, snappy little twanger with a lotta sass and style!

Hellion

Carved solidbody electric guitar with maple & mahogany body, Mahogany neck, paudauk binding and pickguard, bound 24-fret Indian Rosewood fretboard. Pigtail wraparound bridge, Railhammer G90 pickups, Black Ice passive distortion circuit.

The debut of the 'Imp' headstock design —a more moderate interpretation of the earlier 'Harlequin' featured on the first Edison and Tesla.

A model I built on spec, the Hellion is one of three interpretations of a basic double-cutaway body profile, each interpreted after the fashion of, respectively, an SG, a Telecaster and a Strat.

I'd heard mixed reviews of Passive Distortion circuits, but I'm quite pleased with the sound I've achieved with the Black Ice unit I installed in this one. There's a switch to turn it on and off, as well as a drive control knob. It's a wonderful way to add a little grit without overtopping other instruments in the mix, or to get a second stage of low drive out of a dialed back OD box before you switch on a high-gain pedal.

Lurker

Carved solidbody 5-String electric bass guitar with Alder body, Mahogany neck, dyed maple binding and pickguard, bound 24-fret Ebony fretboard. Hipshot Bass Tremolo bridge, EMG HZ pickups.

The Flaming trussrod cover —a trademark design feature, along with the Maxwell Snakes.
Not the simplest solution but the dyed maple pickguard and binding on this are too sexy to deny...

Ben Reames wanted a bass like a Mosrite Ventures style bass, so I went ahead and approximated the german carve of that instrument, and went to town on a layout and color coordination that makes me think of an old gangster car in black with crushed red velvet interior.

The Hipshot Bass Tremolo is a monster, and a really well designed and user–friendly piece of hardware. I can highly recommend these units to any builder or player that is interested in trying one out, though I can't personally demonstrate its tasteful use, at leasr not with my limited bass chops...

Valkyrie

Beveled solidbody electric guitar with Alder, Padauk and Walnut body, Birdsey Maple neck, padauk binding, Kingwood details and pickguard, bound 23-fret Panama Rosewood fretboard. Hipshot US Contour Tremolo bridge, Overwound Golden Age humbuckers. Side-mounted 5-way switch with cut-coil settings.

Side-Mounted 5–way switch and access cover for spoke-nut trussrod.
the bevel on the body is what really sets this interpretation apart from your standard v–style guitar.

I did a lot of interesting stuff with this one —first the pickup covers were the first ones I've done, and I was really pleased with the sapwood I managed to preserve in them. Then I had the idea to do a side–mounted 5–way switch. It's a dream to play, even with a slightly oversized neck (1.75 in. nut width)

The whole reason I began to use this was that I'd run out of uses for some alder cuts I'd been left after laminating the body from another build, and they were just short of what I could use, so I laid them out with some padauk I'd milled out of some old pallet wood, and laid it all out to be striped. My buddy Leon likened it to a cutting board, but I find it to be a little more inspiring than that!

Jerrybird

Semihollow electric guitar with Bigleaf Maple back, sides and neck, bound 24-fret ebony fretboard and Wenge bridge, tailpiece and headplate. Railhammer Hypervintage pickups. coil cut and coil tap switches, a la Trey Anastasio's guitar setup.

Tommy McKaughan with the first Jerrybird!
Custom Wenge Floating bridge and 'hanging' tailpiece.

Tommy McKaughan (aka Pizza T, Daddy Phriday) and I were classmates at the Evergreen State College, and began talking about the Jerrybird a decade before I ended up building it —the basic concept was to have a guitar shape that combined the bout style of Jerry Garcia's Rosebud and Tiger and Lightning Bolt guitars, with the treble side upper bout from the BC Rich Mockingbird, and over time we decided to style the construction and the set and shape of the lower bout to the Languedoc guitars that Trey Anastasio plays.

This was the debut of the new 'raptor' headstock design

The Jerrybird features a number of new innovations for me —the 'Raptor' headstock debuted on this build, as well as the 'Hanging' tailpiece, which has a hook shape at its end that clings to a fitted protrusion that is part of the Guitar's butt wedge.

mother of pearl rosette and custom 'Segno' inlay.

Scot Hebert Custom

Based on a Martin Grand Performance model, we spared no expense with this acoustic build! From the Adirondack Spruce top to the African Blackwood sides, back and headplate, to the custom inlays and Fishman Ellipse Infinity integrated piezo/mic acoustic pickup syestem, this was a chance to work with some of the very best materials and hardware.

Front and Back views
Lovely Padauk binding on African Blackwood headplate. The Atom inlay was fun to do.
Here you can see the depth of the body. It's a big boy!
Bigleaf Maple top Edison with the beautiful Carolina Alanis

Introducing the Edison

From its earliest origins —in my drawing journals from as far back as 2001 —to the first prototype in 2011, the Edison concept has been a steady companion throughout the entirety of my early development as a luthier. You have to be a musical bozo to miss the Beatles reference in the name, and that homage was really the catalyst for branding my guitars as Maxwells in the first place —be on the lookout for a special edition in Silver leaf called the Silverhammer!

I’m still earning my wings as a professional craftsman, so my intent at this point is to charge an extremely modest base price (modest for the world of custom guitars, of course) for the guitar itself —options such as exotic wood substitues, fancy hardware, Design Modifications and custom inlays, case, etc. will cost more.

Edison with Blackheart Sassafras top

I’m really happy with the Golden Age Overwound Humbuckers I've been using. These are really crisp and powerful pickups and at an extremely affordable price! The next few I build will likely each feature a different pickup configuration &I'm thinking a P-90 build and a trio of singles in addition to another dual-humbucker set up.

Overall, the guitar feels and plays a lot like a Les Paul. The weight is a little on the lighter side (which can hardly be a shortcoming unless you’re using your guitar to do squats), but the neck and ebony fingerboard feel solid and smooth underhand.

Now, is that not the sexiest inline headstock you've ever seen?

I'm eager to play with this design if there's a detail that could be changed to make the overall design more attractive to you —A number of people have expressed that the hard angular lines of the soundholes are unattractive to them, or they are not sure about the eccentric flourishes on the Maxwell headstock designs. Be assured that these are all elements that can be swapped out for more traditional or conservative aesthetics in the interest of scratching your particular visual itch.

On the Bench:

Currently I'm wrapping up woodwork on 7 new pieces —the Apollo Bass, two more Valkyries, a standard Edison and a Tenor Edison, another Jerrybird and the Volta.

Apollo Bass

The Apollo is a neck-through build (my first) with walnut and maple laminate slab and Zebrawood top and bottom plates. It features an attractive 'Lunar Cycle' inlay on the fretboard, as well as an inlay of the Apollo 13 Lunar module on the back. Hipshot Bridge and Tuners, Bare Knuckle Jazz Bass pickups, featuring series/parallel switching and a switchable onboard FX loop.

Valkyries

One is a neck-thru walnut/padauk with a Hipshot Tremolo and Railhammer Chisel and Anvil pickups, the other a set-neck alder/walnut/wenge with a fixed bridge and Filtertron or Lollar Novel T pickups.

Edisons

The standard Edison is walnut with carved maple top and maple neck, featuring a set of p90s and a Bigsby Vibrato. The Tenor Edison will be a true semihollow featuring a carved maple top and carved padauk back with padauk sides. Maple neck with 24 fret 22.5" scale Padauk fingerboard. Vintage Zen-On goldfoil pickups.

Jerrybird

The second Jerrybird build is in Wenge with carved maple top and a curly maple neck. Will feature a custom floating bridge and tailpiece, and humbucking or filtertron pickups.

Volta

This new semihollowbody design is sorta like an explorerized-Edison. Carved Maple Burl top and back, Padauk neck and sides. Will feature Bare Knuckle Nantucket p90s and an onboard preamp.