Luthier Perry Ormsby makes incredible, world-class custom guitars that can comfortably stand toe-to-toe with the greats. Demand for his instruments is so high and his fan base so rabid, that Ormsby has now added the GTR line: guitars designed by Ormsby with input from a dedicated Facebook group of passionate guitarists, then manufactured at the World Musical Instruments factory in South Korea, the facility responsible for instruments by brands such as LTD, Schecter, Dean, Strandberg, Prestige and PRS SE.
If you manage to get your hands on one of these instruments, you’ll find that they’re great guitars with incredible attention to detail and a flawless setup – each passing through Ormsby’s workshop for a final setup and tweaking before going out. So why can’t you find them in stores? That’s something that’s playing on Perry’s mind.
“We have sold, literally – not including the recent release, which is another 350 guitars over a week – 2.8% of the entire Australian market for guitars over the last twelve months, and we did that in six days,” Ormsby says on the day of his GTR runs. “But retailers are not interested in the slightest in even talking to us and I think that is absolutely crazy. We’re offering the same margins as everyone else, we’ve got the hottest product right now and we’re offering something that’s totally different to what has been in every store for years. We’ve surveyed our clients and we’ve got all the info of what these players want if they could get a custom-made guitar, and we’re putting it in a production guitar and we’re selling them by the boatload, and yet retailers aren’t interested.”
Ormsby makes a great point: walk into any store and you’ll find dozens of twin-humbucker metal guitars from different brands – often from the same factory his GTR line is made in – sitting happily side-by-side. But none of them are offering what Ormsby does: multiscale fanned- fret designs, custom-designed pickups, finishes voted on by the end users rather than a marketing committee who figure black is just the safest bet... Heck, there’s even a new headless run called the Goliath, which looks incredible. Ormsby guitars could happily sit alongside other brands without eating into their sales.
“We’re coming in with multiscales, which you can’t buy from a shop. They’ve got stainless steel frets, which every metal guy has heard about but hasn’t been able to feel how amazing they are. We’re giving them a case included in that, and we’re surveying them on what the hottest trends in colours are and what they want, and then we’re giving it to them. If you were to ask me twelve months ago, would baby blue be an option for a metal guitarist, I would have said ‘hell no’. But that’s what they want, so we made them. We made pink guitars and we sold a heap of them! I would never have thought that was something that was going to be popular. What was the least-popular colour? Black. What’s the most common colour you see on the wall in the guitar shops? Black. People are sick of it. We’re giving them something different and they’re buying them.”
Currently you can get in on a GTR run via the Facebook group. “We sold 800 instruments in 11 days,” Perry says. “Now, I’d much rather deal through retails so I don’t have to deal with the individual orders coming through. I’m sitting here looking at my desktop and there are 95 orders that came in today. People are telling us ‘If I could go down to the shop and try that out, I’d buy it today’. Especially with something like we’re selling, it’s a multiscale with a different feel and a different look, and it intimidates a lot of people, but as soon as they try it, a lot of guys find them easier to play than regular guitars – but they’ve got to try them! But retailers don’t jump on board so we do it. We do barbecue days in each state: we organise a rehearsal space, we put on a barbecue and we invite everyone down and we make sure there are 20 guitars there and most of the guitars are gone before lunch. If a retailer wants to jump on board, we’re gonna absolutely help ‘em out! We do have a store in Sydney that was entirely funded by presales of our guitars. He jumped on board, ordered 40 instruments, sold them within a couple of days and that gave him the capital to start his business. It’s crazy! And you’ve got long-established stores that won’t give them a look in. And it’s always the same thing: ‘Where are we gonna put them on the floor?’ Mate, get rid of the stuff that doesn’t sell!”