In Focus: James Tyler Guitars

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In Focus: James Tyler Guitars

James Tyler Guitars feature
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

James Tyler Guitars utilise master luthiers in their American and Japanese factories, with builders bringing their own feel and experience to the table.

Like a lot of market leaders, James Tyler Guitars (JTG) started with James Tyler repairing, customising and modifying guitars before launching his own range of masterfully assembled electrics. James Tyler Guitars utilise master luthiers in their American and Japanese factories, with builders bringing their own feel and experience to the table. Every James Tyler Guitar is finished in house, with buffing, neck shape, fit and finish being done by hand.

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The 70s saw James Tyler doing customisation work and repairs, and as word of mouth grew through the 80s and 90s, session players in Los Angeles trusted James to do their repair and modification work to their exacting specs. The experience analysing existing builds, their shortfalls and problems, as well as the needs of his customers led James to ultimately debuting his Studio Elite guitar at the L.A. Guitar Show in 1987. Since then, James Tyler Guitars has evolved into a world-leader, having been involved in the Line 6 Variax guitars, as well as the pursuit of perfection in his own range. James Tyler Guitars offer both electric six strings (and a short run of seven strings in the mid-90s) and electric basses.

Their client list includes the likes of Michael Landau and Buzz Feiten, David Williams used a James Tyler Guitar while recording Michael Jackson’s Thriller (it was the tone of that riff on “Billie Jean”), as well as Toto’s Steve Lukather. James also built the infamous Tabasco and Jack Daniel’s basses for Michael Anthony of Van Halen.

Studio Elite & Studio Elite HD

The Studio Elite is what got it all happening for James Tyler Guitars. A super Strat style electric, the Studio Elite featured a unique pickguard as well as headstock design, different pickup offerings, and the masterfully crafted build quality that you’d expect from James Tyler Guitars. The Studio Elite and Studio Elite HD are available from both Japan and USA factories, with the most notable difference being that the HD does away with lead/rhythm circuit for a more retro sound.

The Studio Elite and HD features a HSS configuration, with optional slanting and noise cancelling pickups available. There’s options for neck wood as well as fretboard, with metallic, candy, transparent, burst and special finishes available, as well as James Tyler Guitars’ own unique ‘Vomit’, ‘Burning Water’ and ‘Schmear’ finishes.

Ultimate Weapon

The Ultimate Weapon deviates a little from the Strat style body, utilising a unique offset design to offer unrestricted access to the higher frets. The Ultimate Weapon is almost entirely customisable, with both HH and HSS pickup configurations available. The Ultimate Weapon is traditionally built from mahogany, rear routed, but is also available in alder or swamp ash for a more lightweight and precise sound.

Mongoose Retro

The Mongoose Retro is a more substantial build than the Studio Elite or Classic, with a single-cutaway design. The Mongoose is built to the most exacting standards, with versatile switching options available and classic colourways. The Mongoose Retro is the amalgamation of a few models, and the finish options can give it either a vintage vibe or the impact of totally modern, contemporary art if you wish. Generally available with an ashtray style bridge, with different pickups and routing options on hand for custom order.

It should be mentioned that with all these options, James Tyler Guitars is using their own pickups. Launched in 2005, James Tyler Electric offers a range of humbuckers and single-coils, both covered and uncovered, slanted and straight. The pickups are available separately, and employ different variations of magnets to shape the sound. James Tyler Electric pickups are made to order, and wound with precision, as well as carefully selected materials to retain all the tone you want and filter out the noise.

2016 Winter NAMM saw JTG’s Japanese range as a mid-priced line, with no sacrifice in quality compared to the USA made James Tyler Guitars.

James Tyler Guitars employees the latest in cutting edge technology, as well as a human touch to its production process. While employing laser-accurate cutting machines for the bulk of the wood cutting process, the guitars are finished by hand, ensuring neck shape, feel and body finish is done with utmost precision. Finishes are sanded and buffed by hand, as well as frets polished, rounded and crowned. This allows JTG to maintain unparalleled quality in both its USA and Japanese workshops. While operating as a factory, the spaces utilise master luthiers to build to James’ exacting specs, upholding the legacy he’s built since he began a few decades ago.

James Tyler Guitars represent your new number one, your main squeeze, and everything you’ve wanted from an electric guitar. Built on the back of decades of repair and customisation, James Tyler is an expert on the needs and wants of guitar players. Having spent most of his life studying, playing guitars and honing his craft, James Tyler understands the instrument like no other, and employs all this learning into his masterful creations. JTG represent the top tier, built to exacting specifications and compromising on nothing.

A near endless list of finishes are available, while tone woods, necks and fretboards are available to finely tune the finished product. If all that wasn’t enough, James Tyler Electrics handle your pickups to further refine the resulting sound. Trusted by the best in the biz, scattered throughout guitar history, James Tyler Guitars are masterfully created instruments for guitarists to aspire to own. Owning a James Tyler Guitar is the crescendo in your own journey.

For local enquiries, visit Gsus4.