How I Made a Custom Monkey Guitar

April 16, 2013

The finished Monkey machine!
THE ART OF CREATING custom graphics for guitars via user-supplied jpgs or pdfs isn’t exactly new—Guitar Player worked with the Peavey Custom Shop to design a 40th Anniversary Guitar emblazoned with classic GP covers six years ago—but California’s Artist Series Guitars is offering bands a very easy and affordable way to promote themselves with logo-embedded solidbodies. I met ASG’s owner, Vijay Kumar, at a NAMM show, and was intrigued by the look and feel of his instruments, so I decided to craft a promo guitar for my “punked Monkees” tribute band, The Trouble With Monkeys.

Patrick Wong’s original design set upon the ASG template.
The production process—well, at least on my end—was about as easy as plugging a cable into an amplifier. I clicked to the “ASG Core: Make your Own ASG” page on the company’s website (, and selected “DIY Design,” as the band logo and its placement on the guitar body was already created by TTWM bassist—and former Keyboard and Electronic Musician art director—Patrick Wong. Users also have the option of having ASG design the whole thing from scratch if you need a logo (a $199 fee). The guitar itself is a classic, single-cutaway that goes for $799. You can replace the ASG’s stock pickups with selected EMG and Seymour-Duncan models (a $45 to $199 upcharge, depending on what you choose). I opted for a Seymour-Duncan JB in the bridge position. So, there—a couple of clicks, an attached pdf of our logo, and—shazzam—I “co-designed” a custom guitar.

The Monkey logo imprinted onto the guitar body, just before wet sanding.
When the completed ASG arrived, I was a happy camper. I’m a sucker for band-promo gear—such as logos on caps, banners, bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee cups, and so on—so I was super jazzed to have the TTWM Monkey staring out into the audience from my own guitar. The ASG looks awesome, and it’s also well constructed and plays great. All hardware is locked down, the frets are nicely dressed, and the tone is ripping and feral enough to thoroughly punk-ify those classic Monkees hits. The whole experience was stress free and easy, it didn’t trash my guitar-acquisition budget, and after promoting the ASG on TTWM’s Facebook page, the “Monkey Guitar” is more popular than the band itself. It’s now a classic love-hate relationship.

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