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Besides the amazing work I could see on their website and what I had seen at Alex's clinic, the communication with Waghorn was superb from my very first query. The pricing and timeline was transparent and clear from the start, and the communication was timely and helpful (something I think is particularly important when dealing with the more boutique dealers, given some horror stories that I've heard about delays and poor communication). A year after the initial communication, I was finally ready to make some firm commitments, and Dave and Tom were beyond helpful entertaining my questions about regarding pickup and bridge options, as well as other minor details.
From start to finish, I was kept updated about progress. Towards the end there were some slight technical delays, but even then, communication was forthright and my expectations were managed exceptionally well, and delivery time was in line with expectations. Timely communication was again a big thing during this process, which went a long way to reassuring me that everything was on track, right up to the point I received it from the courier.
As for the instrument itself, I suppose it's always going to be a surprise the first time you play something you've anticipated for over a year. I was not disappointed. The choices I had made regarding pickups and the bridge, with Dave and Tom's advice, were spot on. The finish and fretwork impeccable, the scalloped fretboard, my childhood fantasy come true. To me, this instrument will be priceless, a personalized tool that commemorates two decades of playing guitar. Getting it wrong would have been heart break, but I trusted Waghorn with that responsibility and they delivered in spades. My biggest fear now is that I will someday soon become a repeat customer.
There are and have been a fair few small and independent builders that have been known to put out sub-standard instruments. As a result it can be nerve racking trusting an independent luthier to build you your dream guitar. However believe me when I say Tom and Dave are the real deal, and if you know what you want then they can build it.
It is flawless, consistent and straight up, bloody jaw-dropping. It looks incredible, and when I see it, I have to pick it up. I cannot thank you enough. It has exceeded my already high expectations ten fold. It also photographs damn well!
The process of having an instrument crafted by Tom and Dave was itself an incredibly enjoyable experience.
In terms of materials and setup I knew exactly what I wanted - I wanted a highly figured walnut top and matching headstock, a neck made of both flamed and birdseye maple with ebony fillets, an ebony fretboard and a black limba body. I wanted a special nut system that allowed me to play in straight fourths tuning but also in standard tuning at the same time. I wanted an acoustic system and also a floating bridge.
It wasn't easy finding all of the wood, but Tom managed to do it. He even went out of his way to search for a piece of black limba which is very rare in the UK and not at all c heap. He spent a lot of time developing a way for me to tune the guitar in the peculiar way I wanted. The end product was absolutely flawless - Tom's techical proficienty is second to none.
Despite my specificity in this sense, I did not have an exact idea of what I wanted for the shape of my guitar. So Tom and Dave modified an existing Waghorn model, showing me countless digital iterations until I was happy. The options available were so many, but they took the time and had to patience to guide me through all the possibilities until I found the one for me.
Although I am only a recreational player, I have owned many high end guitars in my time: Fenders, Parkers, a PRS, a Musicman, Ibanezes, Hamers, Gibsons, even a Chapman stick. None of these instruments are anywhere near as satisfying to play as my Waghorn Sauria S and none of them come close in build quality.
You need to order one to understand just how fantastic these instruments really are.