Fairbanks Guitars Pricing & Custom Options

Pricing & Custom Options

As a small, flexible shop, we are able to work with you, the player, on an individual basis. We will sit down in person, on the phone, or by email, and finalize a guitar that meets your needs in terms of tone, feel and aesthetics. While it is only possible for a small percentage of people, an in-person meeting is helpful to determine your playing style. Questions that can be answered in any format include: Do you use fingers, nails, or picks when you play? How big are your hands? Do you mainly flat pick? Do you tend to play closer to the bridge or the fingerboard? Do you have a hard or soft attack? In tonal terms, do you like it dust-bowl dry, with strong fundamentals and quick decay? Or do you want some harmonic richness, with more piano-like sustain? Or you may say, I'm not sure. I just heard one of your guitars and I want it like that! To which we will say, Great! We'll call when it's done. 


Fairbanks Guitars specializes in vintage reproductions that capture the tone, look and feel of the best of the originals, but we are always open to accommodating our players with any new design or custom feature (soundports, anyone?) upon request. While we find that the vast majority of our customers prefer traditional tone woods such as Mahogany and Rosewood, we have in our shop, or can easily source, most any domestic or exotic tonewoods to realize your vision.

Standard Features:

• Red Spruce top  
• All Red Spruce bracing  
• Vintage-style sunburst or natural top with vintage toner  
• Honduras Mahogany or East Indian Rosewood back and sides  
• Bigleaf Maple back and sides (F-40 only)  
• Honduras Mahogany neck  
• Madagascar Rosewood fingerboard and bridge  
• Celluloid binding  
• Ebony headstock veneer  
• Unbleached bone nut and saddle  
• Tapered dovetail neck joint  
• Comfortable 'C' neck profile (.850" at first fret)  
• Two-way truss rod, adjustable at the headstock  
• Thin, nitrocellulose lacquer finish  
• Waverly tuners  
• Deluxe TKL hardshell case  
Base Price $5,500
Nick Lucas (any profile) Base Price $4,900
Roy Smeck Radio Grande Base Price $4,900
F-40 (Maple) Base Price $5,300

Common Options:

Custom Neck profile n/c
Custom nut width n/c
Custom string spacing at bridge n/c
Sunburst style n/c
Custom top voicing n/c
Custom body depth n/c
12, 13 or 14-fret neck to body join n/c
West African ebony fingerboard and bridge 100
Brazilian RW fingerboard and bridge 250
Wood binding 150
Stainless steel frets 200
Fossilized ivory bridge pins, nut and saddle TBD
Custom Cedar Creek hardshell case 400 and up

Tonewood Options:

Top Wood Options
Sitka spruce n/c
German spruce n/c
Bearclaw figuring TBD
Popular Back & Side Options
Quartersawn White Oak 150
Poplar n/c
Birch n/c
Cherry n/c
Honduras Mahogany n/c
Figured Honduras Mahogany 400
Sapele n/c
Figured Sapele 800
African Mahogany n/c
Curly bigleaf Maple (standard on F-40) 400
East Indian Rosewood n/c
Cocobolo 800
Amazon Rosewood 800
Figured Walnut 400
Madagascar Rosewood 1,200
Brazilian Rosewood 3,000
Curly Koa 1,200
Spanish Cypress 600
Our tone wood stocks are always in flux, so be sure to contact us with your request.

Vintage Tonewoods & Alternatives

Fairbanks guitars are built with traditional tonewoods including Honduras mahogany necks, Red (Adirondack) Spruce or European (German) Spruce tops, and a wide range of back and side woods. I like to build with the same woods used by the original makers. Domestic woods such as cherry, maple, birch and quartersawn oak were often used for vintage instruments. Besides producing wonderful sounding guitars, they have the added benefit of being local! I build roughly half of my ladder-braced instruments with these woods.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna) has recently placed Honduras (Bigleaf) Mahogany on its Appendix II, which means that trade in the raw lumber is restricted in an effort to preserve Mahogany stands. The price of this wood has been steadily rising and larger companies including Gibson and Martin have started using alternatives and laminates, with good success. Whenever possible, I use FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified woods. The FSC works with wood exporting countries to ensure that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable way.

A good alternative to Honduras mahogany neck wood is Sapele, or African Mahogany. It is similarly colored and is just as stable as Honduras, but is slightly heavier. I suspect that as Honduran prices continue to rise, woods such as Sapele, which are readily available and cheaper, will become more and more common. But, for now, Honduras Mahogany is still affordable and I will continue to use it as standard on Fairbanks guitars. Sapele is offered as an option at no additional cost.

For more complete information about the CITES restrictions, visit www.gruhn.com/newsletter/newsltr29.html

Ladder Bracing

Guitar builders and players talk a lot about what contributes to a guitar's tone, from neck joints and glue choices to the subspecies of rosewood for the back and sides. These things, and 1,000 more, all contribute in a small or large way. But the single biggest contributing factor is the style of the bracing pattern used for the top.

Top bracing serves two basic functions: to strengthen the top so that the string tension doesn't tear it apart, and to enable it to vibrate freely to produce the best tone possible. In the 1850's C.F. Martin devised the bracing pattern used as standard in the vast majority of steel string guitars today: the X-brace. X-braced guitars produce a warm, overtone-rich sound that, when balanced well, is often described as piano-like.

Another style that predates the X-brace and was utilized much more often, even into the 1950's and '60's, is ladder bracing. Ladder-braced guitars have three or four laterally placed braces spanning the width of the top. This system tends to produce a sound that is immediate and raw, meaning it leans to the fundamental with few overtones to mellow it. In addition, many ladder-braced guitars anchor the strings with a tailpiece which exerts downward pressure on the top (similar to a jazz archtop), further enhancing the tonal effect of its ladder-braced top. These guitars were generally less expensive than their more cultured, X-braced cousins and were very popular with blues and hillbilly musicians of Depression-era means.

If you seek to reproduce the sound of the guitar coming from that old 78 spinning on your Victrola, then a ladder-braced guitar is for you!