Build a Custom Electric Guitar with Orphanage Guitars

Two brothers are out to change the concept of custom guitars. Matt and Jonathon Harris recently founded Orphanage Guitars, a custom-design electric guitar company that uses the latest technology to produce one-of-a kind instruments.

Matt and Jonathon are music lovers at heart. They played in Columbus-based bands during their time at Ohio State before moving on to their professional careers. Matt moved to New Hampshire where he is co-owner of industrial design firm, Redpoint Studios. Jonathon stayed in Columbus to pursue web design and development, with a special interest in architecture and 3-D animation.

orphanage-guitars-02The brother’s backgrounds proved to be a perfect pairing to start Orphanage Guitars. A unique set-up splits the process between Columbus and New Hampshire. Locally, Jonathon handles the initial steps of the guitar design, along with the website and graphics. When the design is ready, the specifics are sent to Matt in New Hampshire, where the guitar is  manufactured.

The idea to create custom electric guitars was born from a creative way to test new Autodesk software, Fusion 360. They chose to design a curve-top electric guitar to shake-up the typically flat-top design. Realizing there was a market for such a product, the company came together quickly. In just three weeks, the brothers designed and manufactured four custom guitars. They were struck by the idea of mass-customization.

“We’re making a mass-produced product in a customized way,” Matt said.

Truly customizable every step of the way, Orphanage Guitars is the only company offering custom body shapes for electric guitars.

“We are expanding on technology every year instead of adding new products,” Jonathon said.

orphanage-guitars-03The process starts by choosing the wood, dye, hardware and electronics for the guitar. Next a 2-D drawing of the desired shape is brought to the 3-D space. Customers receive a DWF file that they can view using free apps or software. They are then able to spin the 3-D model of the guitar around from all angles for a preview before it goes to machining. With the Fusion software, the shape of the guitar is able to be changed quickly and accurately, in real-time instead of having to remodel a physical form.

Electric guitars bode well to custom shapes since the wood and electronics have more of an affect on how the guitar sounds.

Once the shape and details are finalized, the production process begins. An automated ShopBot transforms a block of wood into a one-of-a kind guitar body. Building the guitar takes two to six weeks depending on finishes and availability.

Orphanage Guitars is spreading the music through a contest and Kickstarter campaign. Participants can enter to win a free guitar they will design themselves. Supporters can also contribute to the campaign that will go towards better and faster machining tools.

For more information, visit