Chip Todd Custom Guitars

It's no secret that Chip Todd makes some of the best custom guitars in the world! Chip can create a custom guitar to order, or he can improve your T-60 (or other guitar) in both looks and performance. And the best part? Chip's prices are excellent, and the craftsmanship is superb. Chip can reduce the weight of your T-60, give it a beautiful veneer job (front, back, and sides), sculpt the neck joint for better neck access, and customize the electronics, just to name a few things. Chip is also the designer of the worlds best 25" scale mini-bass. Not only does the small scale allow this to be the easiest and fastest playing bass on earth, but the electronics allow it to be one of the best sounding basses as well.

Here's the standard type of work chip can do to beautify a typical T-60.

Now take your standard "bolt on neck" joint, and replace it with this.  This particular guitar is a Peavey Generation with Chip's custom heel joint. Note the three dowels used to hold the neck tight to the body. The sculpted heel is glued and doweled to replace the standard neck plate. Dowels courtesy of Hamilton's drummer, who brought Chip a bushel full of broken hickory drumsticks!

Dovetail control door made by Chip. A real step up from the black plastic control doors that are screwed in. It is secured with 1 screw on the end. An allen head cap screw is employed such that when you take it out you can turn it around and used it to pull the door out.

This T-60 is in the process of being “lightened” by carving out the back.



On some custom jobs the back is routed out, and stays just like this (no cap). This makes the guitar extremely light, and of course, the routing is hidden from the audience. Believe it or not, it has twice the sustain of a normal T-60, primarily due to what Chip believes is a “diaphram effect”. This brings the guitar down to about the weight of a standard Poplar bodied guitar.


Neck joint of the lightened T-60 uses a “no neck plate” design.

For the acoustic player. Here we see a design that Chip came up with that employs a Brass insert with a screw slot. Intonation is set for 10-46. A template from Stew Mac was used to determine the ideal intonation point. Chip also worked on an acoustic design that uses standard Strat styled saddles that are fully adjustable. According to Chip, "they don’t adversely affect the sound, and you don’t have to modify your bridge to use them".

This is a left handed T-60 Chip worked on with a glossy ash front (body made from scratch). This guitar is available, so if you are a lefty and want a T-60, here?s your chance! Chip sold it on eBay, but recently tracked it down and re-acquired it. It has since been refinished in clear, much like the original right-handed guitars.

Here?s a pic of the lefty T-60 being routed. All operations are done quite precisely on a lathe with digital controls.

This is a Sapele wood veneered T-60 with Walnut shaded edges, and Sapele veneered back. This will have a small black plastic front cover for the controls.

This is a ?T-60 Ultimate? made for Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets.

This guitar was made from an old cedar fence. According to Chip, it?s "light as a feather, and sustains like crazy". This was sold to a friend of Chips in Mississippi. Chip and Hartley both knew that weight was not necessarily equal to sustain when the T-60 was being designed, however Hartley was astute enough to understand that the current market trend called for a heavy guitar, hence the T-60 was made to meet the demand of the time.

This guitar was inspired by the Peavey Ecoustic. Chip's daughter (Catherine) drew and burned a wolfin on it to fill some of the white space. Apparently Chip dropped awrench on it later on, and ended up sanding the wolf off (ouch!). Thisguitar has five straight braces running down the front. Chip noted thatstandard X-braces do not transmit sound nearly as efficiently as thisdesign does. The braces have holes in them, which serves to transmitthe sound even more effectively. This guitar has twice the volume ofother acoustics of similar design. The sound holes around the horn arenot simply a cosmetic touch. Hole positioned here are much more efficient as too much wave cancellation occurs when the sound holes areplaced in the standard area behind the strings.

Note, a wooden dowel is employed to strengthen the bracing. The body shell is a piece of Walnut routed out with a rib down the center than just barley misses the center rib on the front of the guitar. This keeps the bass frequencies on one side of the guitar, and the treble frequencies on the other.

A ?? turn cam? is used on the neck joint of this acoustic guitar to keep the neck joint tight and make disassembly a snap, making it great for travelers!

This is a tremolo setup that Chip made to be used in conjunction with a T-60 bridge plate, so that the T-60 look at feel is kept intact. It is essentially like a Strat bridge, tuning stability is excellent.

Another tremolo design employing coil springs and a hinge in the back (no rear routing required). Again, tuning stability is very good.

Chip made this guitar for his granddaughter. It is made from old 2X4?s with veneered rosewood covering it. This is similar to the guitar Chip had on the wall of his office when he left Peavey and went to Fender.

No....not a CTE Custom! This T-60 was brought into Chips shop by a young man whose father was a taxidermist. The father actually covered the guitar in snakeskin because he tried custom carving the body and ruined it, so he used the snakeskin to cover his mistakes! The son didn?t want it with the snakeskin on it, and his Dad wouldn?t let him take it off, so it?s probably sitting in a closet somewhere.

On a tour of the Peavey factory Brian Henneman, from the Bottle Rockets (aka T-60 Son) discovered thousands of peavey necks and bodies in an attic above the facility. Through a series of events Chip was able to acquire some of these pieces. This is the trailer load of bodies Chip ultimately rescued. Chip's wife was gracious enough to let Chip store them in the living room for a while. Chip became somewhat of a local legend once word got out to local guitarists concerning his ?stash? of stuff. Story has it many a guitar players would swing by with camera in hand just to see the famed pile of goodies.

Chip used ?garbage cans? out in his shop to store the Peavey necks. Some necks had flaws, but the majority of them were in perfect shape. Somewhere in there are 60 patriot necks, and some oddities like a left handed foundation (bass) neck.

This specimen is proof that you shouldn?t get rid of those guitars that look like dogs but play great!! This was an ugly Vortex that someone brought in to Chip to ?pretty up?. It has a veneer down each side with Sapele strip down the center, and painted-on walnut strips to make it look laminated.

Another custom Vortex for the same customer. Shortly after Chip took this picture the hook holding the guitar up came out of the ceiling and the tips on the end of the body were crushed (ouch). Chip repaired the problem, hung it back up, and then exact same thing happen again! Proof that "it" can happen to the best of us.

Here?s an example of what can be done (quite inexpensively) with a normal T-60 body. This piece has a veneered flamed maple front and a mahogany shaded rear. The back of the guitar is slightly shaped to reduce weight.

This T-60 has a glossy ash front, cr?me binding, and mahogany shaded back body Chip was working on at the time this article was written. The glossies are especially difficult to produce because they tend to accent the wood grain as finish anomalies. Special care is required when sanding (chip uses a hard wood block) to ensure the hills and valleys are reduced as much as possible. The final product sports a spectacular finish.

Closeup of the creme binding.

An example of what Chip did with a Mexican Strat. This guitar has a quilted Maple front with binding on the edges.

Here are two Wolfgang bodies that came out of the Peavey attic. The one on the left has been re-shaped by Chip a bit to give it a little more of an offset "strat-like" look.

Curly Koa Veneer

Quilted Maple Veneer

Standard veneer is 1/28th of an inch thick. Chip uses a spray solution called ?super soft? to soften up the veneer and make it easier to work with. Chip uses the more modern ?heat activated? glue, which makes the application easier, and has allowed Chip to drop his prices on this type of work. Veneering makes more sense ecologically, because it allows the manufacture to use much more of the tree, with substantially less waste.

Chip can also build a guitar with a maple cap (as opposed to a veneer). Quilted, curly and flame maple are created by nature when the tree is so huge that the weight of the upper part of the tree crushes the bottom part. Trees with this characteristic are all being cut down, so at some point in the very near future, maple caps will become very difficult to acquire.

These two examples of veneer are the two that Chip used on the ITOC 2005 T-60. Aren?t they spectacular?

One of Chips personal guitars (reportedly his favorite) sporting some very cool looking spalted maple. The guitar has Carvin M-22 pickups, which Chip prefers over the T-60 pups. The guitar has a slab of ebony (actually made up of 4 or 5 pieces). According to Chip, there is no benefit to producing a guitar from one solid piece of wood. The wood will be much less likely to warp and crack if the pieces are first cut, and then positioned such that the grain from one piece is flipped in a manner that it competes with the grain from the adjacent piece. This makes the wood substantially more stable. In the case of the ebony used in the guitar pictured above, Chip glued up a bunch of pieces side by side. He then planed them down to make a flat slab out of them.

Spalted Maple is derived from a tree that has rotted on the inside. Because the rot is on the inside, it doesn?t take the form of a powdery type of rot (like it would if it were exposed). The spalted wood is still quite hard and useable. Chip created a strip down the center of the guitar because his largest piece of spalted wood was only about 6 inches across. The bridge is a Schaller roller model. Gold plated frets finish off the slick look.

This was a small bass that Chip made for Neil Diamonds lead guitar player.

This is a T-40 with Chip?s custom neck joint and veneering job. Controls were made rear accessible, which eliminates the pickguard. It?s amazing what a nice veneer job, neck joint sculpting, and weight reduction job can do for the average T-series guitar or bass. According to Chip, the production T-series guitars all had pickguards, primarily because Hartley was a Strat fan! This particular guitar will be called a ?T-50? because it?s a 5-string bass (built for Scott Provencher). It sports multiple hollow cavities (to reduce weight).

This is a 5 string T-40 bass side by side with the famed mini bass that Chip recently presented to Hartley Peavey for possible production. The mini bass sports a beautiful maple cap. The neck was made from scratch. The headstock is shortened so that it fits in the overhead cabin of an airplane. The 25 inch scale sounds as good as any bass equipped with a 34? scale. RT Lowe once commented that the reason why Leo Fender went with a 34? scale was because he was marketing the first Precision fretted basses to players who were familiar with playing large upright basses.

"Bumpy picks," designed by Chip because he was tired of losing picks.

Rob Ramos playing the first prototype (22" scale) of Chips tiny basses.

Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets cradling a Chip Todd Custom T-60. Brian is probably the foremost T-60 fan in the world. He only plays T-60?s. Here Brian poses with a new neck that Chip installed on his guitar (serial number 000000). A smile doesn?t get any bigger than this! Brian recently gave the neck back, as he, mistakenly, didn?t think himself worthy of it. Chip, obviously didn?t agree. Notice where Chip branded his signature for Brian.

Hamilton Loomis, playing a small Walnut guitar Chip made for him. Chip is currently in the process of making Hamilton a scaled down copy of his Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty. Hamilton is well on his way as an artist. Yeah, the boy can play. Hamilton admits that he is more of an entertainer than a musician (although he is the finest musician Chip has ever been around). Hamilton understands the importance of ?the show? and isn?t afraid to do what it takes to ensure the crowd is entertained at his performances.