|Byrd Guitars||1996 to present||I began designing and building the first prototype of the Byrd Super Avianti (R) guitar in late 1996. I made 14 hand built prototype guitars as I refined the design. In 1999 and 2000 I was granted two separate patents, one for the body, the other for the neck by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, and additionally granted two national trademarks for “Balance Compensated Wing” (R), and “Super Avianti” (R).
In 2000 I attended the NAMM show with two instruments, as a special guest of Lynn Ellsworth, founder and owner of Boogie Body guitars and personal friend. The head of the NAMM planning committee upon seeing the guitar, selected it for exhibit as the featured display guitar at the entry to Kentia hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Although the guitars were neither for sale, nor was my attendance with the intention of accepting purchase orders, interest in the guitar at the booth was high enough to convince me to pursue developing production programs for bodies, necks, special fixtures, and pick guards. In 2003 I was approached by an off-shore guitar factory owner who wanted to produce guitars for me. After a year of waiting for the first sample from his factory to arrive, I concluded that my guitar could not be made to my satisfaction on an assembly line upon which dozens of major brand guitars were all being made with parts and materials from the same bins and fixtures. It was then also found that the Asian factory had produced 24 unauthorized instruments prior to my approval. These were supposedly disassembled and sent through a wood chipper upon my demand. It was then decided to invest in the necessary development to produce the entire instrument here in Washington State.
In 2004, I found an American production facility with 5 axis CNC machines, and one of the few programmable compound radius neck shaping machines in the United States, who also happened to be with 50 miles of me. I took my prototypes to them and the programs to machine carve the bodies and necks, with almost innumerable options for customer preferences. The first “Production” guitar was completed in 2005.
Although the bodies, necks, and Acrylite pick guards of the Byrd Super Avianti (R) are made using state of the art CNC machines, it is not a “production” instrument. Each one is made to order for each individual customer, and not counting the labor of the luthiers who finish the raw wood components prior to shipping them to me, about 50 hours of individual handwork goes into finishing and assembling each guitar, about 25 hours of which are performed by me personally; Byrd U.D.C. TM scalloped fingerboards, neck finishing, and precision inlay work are all still performed by me personally. Production is therefore extremely limited (about 20 guitars per year at this point). Wait time for a guitar from me runs from a short of 6 months, to up to a year. Each guitar part is signed and hand serial numbered by me, and a customer build-sheet accompanies each delivery. Guitars with bodies and necks factory produced by CNC machine have the letter “P” at the end of the serial number; IE, #0012P, and the serial number is located on the back of the headstock, under the finish, in handwritten ink. If the neck is removed, the underside of the neck heal will show my signature, and the name of the customer who originally ordered the instrument. Additionally, the inside of the body neck pocket features a matching serial number, and the inside of the control cavity is signed, and sometimes customer custom color information in pencil is sometimes still visible. Records of every customer order are kept on file and annotated to tooling and fixtures used to carve the pick guard inlay cavity.
To date, Byrd Musical Instrument Co. has so far spent zero dollars on marketing and advertising, my orders being generated solely by web-site traffic and customer word of mouth.
The odds of anyone ever finding and purchasing a used Super Avianti (R) as of this date, are extremely remote. Only three times has a used Super Avianti (R) guitar ever changed hands: Once when a local customer who’s son was hospitalized with cancer, and once when a prospective sales representative from Slidel Louisiana lost his home in hurricane Katrina while his guitar was en-rout to him. I re-purchased the Hurricane Katrina guitar immediately. The other was purchased by a loyal customer, making it his third guitar. The seller also happened to be the owner of the only hard-tail pre-production Super Avianti (R) ever made, which he sold to a collector in Florida by personal arrangement through me. [Source: James Byrd, CEO BMIC, email 23/3/2008]