Q: What was the reaction to Spearfish?
A: Overwhelmingly positive and mostly pure shock. In a very oversaturated guitar market (especially evident at the NAMM show) it’s cool to see when a name lives up to its hype. The neck is of course a major selling point of the Spearfish and is an instant conversation starter. It reeled people in to learn more about the guitar…it grabs attention and sparks interest in ways a traditional neck wouldn’t. The International Orange finish totally shook people and was clearly visible amongst the noise at NAMM. The reaction to the FreeWay 10-way switch was GREAT. It almost adds another layer of value and individuality to the guitar. It gives the impression that the guitar is infinite (rightfully so). A lot of folks came out to see your guitar. None left disappointed and I was so happy to see it all go down!
Q: What did people like best about Spearfish?
A: THE NECK. The neck. It really is the selling point of this guitar and the feature most people want. Very unique but extremely playable and functional. “Effortless” is a word that kept coming up. People noticed the balance and ergonomics of the instrument. It does an excellent job of comfortably adhering to your body as you play. The International Orange finish sort of spoke for itself…it was a great display of the depths you’re able to go. People loved it. Another thing people loved? That headstock. It’s really sick.
Q: What did they like least about Spearfish?
A: The neck. HA! Just kidding…but in all seriousness, it is the one thing that threw a small number of people off. I will say for 99% of skeptics, this wore off quickly. It does not surprise me that something of this nature would throw off a more traditional player. It’s a massive sea change when you first try it out, but the benefits quickly become evident. The only other thing I can think of (which wasn’t necessarily a dislike) was the extra space on the fretboard room on the high E-string side. Most players were not used to being able to pull the string in a downward motion on the high E string, and I think they weren’t used to feeling fretboard under their hands on that side on the neck. It was an interesting observation because I’m SO used to the Element neck at this point, but I understand — because if I pick up a Telecaster, I find myself falling off the high E-string side more than I’d like to admit. Ha! I think it’s a cool part of the guitar that I personally love, but something I did get feedback on.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Fretboard Flare™ is the geometric feature included in the patented Element™ neck.
Q: What did you learn regarding how people perceive my work?
A: You are definitely an elusive creature in the guitar world, so watching people try your guitars is like witnessing man discover fire. It is interesting because as far as I can tell, you’re not worried about marketing and shoving your name down peoples throats. You just make real evocative art and it resonates. Word of mouth is still alive and well when it comes to art that people feel the need to share, and seeing this cult-like following towards your work is inspiring. DIY to the max.
Q: Did you make any connections to help your career?
A: Oh man. Where do I begin? First of all, thank you for the Bare Knuckle Pickups relationship that you started. They were amazing people and it was a gift to help represent a brand that I have been a proponent of for so long. I confirmed a big project with Neural DSP that will be taking place within the next few months. I secured an artist deal with Happy Cable Company which are making some really high quality cables. They’ll be helping me with cable needs for the wireless packs we use on stage and cables here in the studio. Steve linked me up with an entire hotel room of guys that totally rocked my world with emerging technology for guitar. I like to go deep with the Fractal Audio units and utilize things like automated preset/scene changes via MIDI, and to see what’s possible when it comes to using the guitar as a controller blew me away. If this can become optimized, it would be a total game changer for live performance. I think we’re officially in the future! I met SO many people and there is a lot that I’m leaving out, but it was without a doubt the most fruitful NAMM experience to date. Thank you for putting me in a position to make these new connections and plant many seeds. I will forever be grateful to you my friend!
IMAGE (below): Tim Mills demonstrates why he has successfully built a world-class business.