One of my favorite aspects about guitar reviews and journalism is discovering new guitar companies, luthiers, and designs. Randomly scrolling through Instagram brought me to RWM Guitars and they’ve been stuck in my mind ever since.
RWM Guitars is the work of Ron Mason, a talented luthier who mainly focuses on putting his personal touch on classic Fender designs. What caught my eye most of all was his work building double cut Telecasters. As a huge fan of both the Tele and Les Paul Junior Double Cut, this guitar is somewhat of a dream come true for me.
Fortunately, Ron was able to conduct a short interview with us, allowing you to get to know him and his amazing guitar builds!
GFI: Hi Ron, thanks so much for your time! How long have you been building your own guitars? How did the first guitar you ever built come out, was it a disaster or did you get it right from the start?
My path to guitar building came gradually as my skills developed. First, I started to hot rod my own guitars by changing out pickups, bridge saddles, doing small upgrades that didn’t require any specialized tools. Then I moved up to building kit guitars, my first was a Carvin Strat style guitar, which only needed finish work and assembly. These and other experiences were full of learning opportunities, such as: taping up your pick guard before making mods so not to scratch it, putting wax on screws to make them go in easier, preventing them from breaking, and testing my wiring work before closing up the controls, etc.
In 2017, I took a guitar building class with master luthier Jamie Boss and built a Stewmac Triple 0 acoustic guitar kit, which took 40 hours to complete. I quickly gained the confidence to build my own line of electric guitars, both right-handed and left-handed. Three months later, I filed my LLC and RWM Guitars was born.
My first build was the Butcher Block Tele, which can be seen on my website (rwmguitars.com). It took me about eight months to complete, partly because I juggle a full-time job, but mostly because I was taking my time double checking each step. I did experience some bumps, like not getting the neck pocket correct and breaking a screw when installing the strap buttons – but nothing that couldn’t be corrected! I am very proud of the finished product.
GFI: You’re clearly very inspired by classic Fender shapes and designs, what inspired you to make the double cut Telecaster such a prominent part of your offerings? Do you feel you’ve improved on any of those classic designs?
I have always been a big fan of Fender guitars, the telecaster being my ultimate favorite. My first electric guitar was a MIM 1994 Fender telecaster, which I still own. I love the telecaster for its straightforward, simple design, two pickups, one volume, one tone and a three-way switch. The double cut tele came one day when I was flipping my template around and I saw the double cutaway. I had never seen one before and just thought it was unique. I created my double cut template, by simply taking a single cut template, tracing the right side, then flipping the template to trace the left side to create the double cutaway.
I’m also improving the basic tele design by adding the belly and stomach contours. Also, I am making the body a little thinner. The typical tele body is 1 ¾ inch thick, but I started making my bodies 1 ½ inches thick, such as my 2019 left-handed Paisley Tele. Another interesting feature to my guitars is the material – all the bodies are made with reclaimed or locally sourced wood. For example, the body to my double cut semi hollow tele is made from pine trees by the reservoir on route 66 in Middletown, CT. The top is made from pine panels out of an Estey’s 1889 pump organ. So, not only do my guitars use unique wood but they also have a little back story.
GFI: If you could build a custom guitar for any famous or professional musician, who would you most want to see playing one of your builds?
The one person I most want to see playing one of my builds, is also one of the best players of the telecaster: G.E. Smith. I’ve seen Mr. Smith perform many times and admired his talents while he led the Saturday Night Live band, when he toured with Hot Tuna, and of course his Masters of the Telecasters shows. It’s also incredible the number of musicians he’s not only performed with but backed. And let’s not forget his own outstanding music! Yes, G.E. Smith would be the highlight of my career.
2 thoughts on “Meet RWM Guitars: A Company Putting It’s Own Touch On Classic Designs”
Matt, assuming you have played one of these guitars, how do you feel about the GFS pickups? When I went to his website and saw that he uses GFS pickups exclusively, I was surprised. I do not have any experience with that model, but this company is the first boutique guitar builder that I am aware of that does not use a higher end (or just priced) pickup.
I’ve not yet had the chance to play his guitars thanks to the current lockdown, though I use GFS pickups quite often myself and am a big fan of them. I think they’re about 85% as good as any boutique pickup for like 25% of the price