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About Alexander James Guitars

At Alexander James Guitars we strive to constantly improve the norm of guitar construction and design.

Since 2002, we have been building and designing guitars. Our vast knowledge of exotic woods allows us to craft each instrument to match a certain tone. The quality of these instruments reflect our dedication and passion toward the organic feel of music. In 2008, Alexander James Guitars officially opened a custom guitar shop in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Every piece of lumber is handpicked to create the finest sounding and best-looking guitars possible. Our mission is to deliver quality handmade instruments that exceed your expectations.

Alexander James Guitars is absolutely dedicated to excellent customer service.


Reviews

John Butler (Tele body)

My project began with the realization that my much loved Telecaster was finding itself sitting in the case for longer and longer periods of time. While I loved playing the guitar and have a very close personal connection to it, the instrument itself was the heaviest guitar I'd ever owned and as I grew older I started to find it quite uncomfortable to play for any length of time.

In an attempt to once again reconnect with my Tele, I contacted Alexander James Guitars (AJG) to seek a solution. After discussions with Alexander, we decided the best approach was to build a new body for the guitar. With Alexander's extensive knowledge of tone woods, I was able to select a combination of exotic woods that would provide the tonal qualities I sought while faithfully maintaining the classic Telecaster profile. I selected highly figured padauk for the top and a wonderfully grained piece of mahogany for the body.

Alexander book-matched pieces of padauk to showcase the rich grain in the wood and extensively chambered the mahogany body to create an instrument that is tonally balanced (without much of the harshness often associated with Telecasters) and visually striking while being light and acoustically responsive. Alexander then fitted my one piece maple neck into the body he built with a precision that far surpassed the original instrument and proceeded to perfectly align the bridge system. He also fabricated a custom mounting ring for the neck pick up out of padauk wood to match the top.

The AJG oil and wax finish was the perfect final touch to my project. When I was first told of the oil and wax finish, I must admit to a certain amount of reticence. All the guitars that I have owned in my almost 50 years of playing guitar and over 25 years I worked in high end musical instrument sales have had high polished lacquer finishes, oil and wax was an unknown quantity. What a truly wonderful surprise it was to see and touch the final result. The oil accentuates the beautiful grain of the exotic woods and makes it pop to the eye. Not having a heavy lacquer finish on the body allowes the acoustic properties of the tone woods and extensive chambering to sing out. The oil and wax also facilitates a much more intimate contact between the instrument and the player than that of the more traditional lacquer finish. You can feel the vibrations through the body when you play and it is nothing short of an inspirational experience, I just love it.

To anyone considering investing in a custom built instrument or and extensive modification project, I highly recommend you do yourself a favour and contact Alexander James Guitars, you won't be disappointed, I certainly wasn't.

Bruce Mason (Ursa guitar)
I have been playing acoustic nylon and steel string guitars since I was 14 years old and back then I was educated in classical guitar. Now years later and close to retirement, I decided that it was about time for an electric guitar. Knowing several co-workers that are accomplished players and band players in their earlier years, supported me in my search. So, I began the long journey choosing an electric guitar. Investigating off the shelf Gibsons, Fenders, Gretch, Ibenez, Paul Reed Smith, Jackson, ESP, Rickenbacker and the list went on and on. OK then, lets also start looking at semi custom guitars, like Carvin, Sabre, Strandberg. This went on for a total of a year, how do you filter through all this?

I was looking all over the world and Canadian maker Sankey Guitars too but then I found Alexander James Guitars by sheer accident.

I loved the look of Alexander's guitars, so I braved the call and got an immediate response by phone and felt completely at ease with proceeding on a custom guitar. I was looking for a longer scaled guitar that allowed me to tune down more effectively, and was interested in something that would be a family air loom that could be handed down through time; something unique! The build was going to be close to the time I spent researching guitars, at least eight months to complete production. Many decisions had to be made on what style to choose, finding the choice of wood to use on the front and neck, tonal wood for the back, hardware, and pick ups.

Finally, choosing what style of neck. There are so many different kinds and Alexander told me to start looking at all brands and types. Thank god for that, I ended up with a D shaped neck, sounds huge but I have bigger hands and was getting fatigue with my smaller neck acoustic. Alexander promised me we can always take it down in size but can't go the other way. So, I gave the OK to proceed and hoped for the best. So many people would say, they could not buy a guitar until they have held it in their hands but I had to have faith.

Let's jump to the finished guitar, wow, wow, wow, gorgeous, with fabulous action, powerful sustain with an incredible feel of the natural wood neck and perfection in workmanship. Playing this guitar with Alexander's amp and speakers surpassed my expectations in sound, feel and playability. I was blown out of the water! Alexander told me to play the guitar "as it is" for several months' before deciding if I would like the neck thinned down. Guess what, I love it like it is and so does my son and buddies. Would have never thought.

Bruce Mason (Apollo amp)
After hearing his 50-watt hand wired amp I proceeded to look for a smaller one by other manufactures that would suit home use better, but I was not getting the sound I remembered at Alexander's workshop. He had mentioned he was proceeding with designing and building some smaller wattage amps, so I kept my eye on is Face Book page to see what he was up too. When he finally was near completion on several I called him to see if I could come down to hear them. Wow, wow, wow, again, a 20-amp with more gain than the previous. We'll I caved in and came home with it too. I have been playing with the new Alexander James gear almost daily and every day I become happier than the last. I have been getting outstanding sound in all my recordings, only adjusting the EQ and pick-ups. I am amazed at the natural sound of the guitar and amplifier.

Did I make the right decision? absolutely, and wish I could afford to do it again and again.

Tim Wilson
My project started about two years ago when I was just looking for a shop to do a simple setup for me. Little did I know that meeting Alexander would result in me having one of the most visually appealing and by far best playing guitars I have ever owned.

Alex is a true professional with out a doubt. He is there for you every single step of the build making sure the customer is getting exactly what they came for. I have no reservations recommending his shop for a custom build. I am still over the moon excited every time I pick up my custom made Ethos. This is my first but definitely not my last Alexander James Guitar.

Shaun Williams (Custom bass body)
What started out as a custom bass neck led me to the best bass I have owned in my life. I commissioned Alex to build me a replacement blood wood neck (see below for the review) for my Yamaha 6 string bass. It was by far the best bass neck I have ever owned. Over a year later the bass neck is the exact same. First ever for me. I have played bass guitar for over 25 years and this has been the first bass neck that I have ever owned that has been this consistent. Set it and forget it.

Now let's talk the bass body. My Yamaha played and sounded so much better with the new Alexander James Guitars bass neck, but having this amazing looking blood wood neck on a glossy factory dipped body did not do it justice. When Alex told my he had enough matching blood wood left over from my neck to make a body I was sold. We used the blood wood as the top and sapele mahogany for the back. Alex was amazing through out the process. Weight was a concern for me, so Alex let me come over before shaping the body to compare weights to my Yamaha. We ended up chambering it. Alex also routed in cable channels for future upgrades which was super cool. He shaped the body nicely, giving it a familiar yet unique shape to my Yamaha. Also, my Yamaha was almost unplayable at the high end of the fingerboard before. Alex was able to scoop the cutaway more, giving me 100% playability at the last frets. Alex is great with social media and posted updated pics as it came together which is super cool. Alex's attention to detail is second to none. I had to wait a little longer than expected. He would not put the body together till the moisture content in the wood was just right. That is the attention you will never get from a factory made instrument in some country somewhere. This bass is completely one of a kind. It has the richest blood red colour. I chose the bridge and the pickup's. The tone is incredible. Sustain and punch fantastic. Each note rings out solid and true. No muddy overtones. My tone cuts through my guitar players 5150 amp with no hesitation. Another first. I highly recommend Alexander James guitars. Thanks so much. I now have my life time bass.

Shaun Williams (Custom bass neck)
6 String custom blood wood bass neck TYPE OMG! I first met Alexander when I was having some fret and neck relief issues with my 6 string Yamaha TRB1006. He came recommended from a friend because of his quality of work and fast turn around time. After a few mintures, Alexander was able to point out the problem that many other Luthiers had been un able to solve. Unfortunately it was a design flaw in my neck and could not be corrected without some serious work. I decided to have my frets super glued and a fret level done. Alexander's fret skills are amazing. My bass did play the best it has ever played but that flaw in the neck still bugged me. That is when I decided to get a quote from Alexander on a custom neck. I was shocked at how reasonable the price was and being able to have the neck shaped to my liking was great.

Alexander's knowledge of wood, tone and construction are limitless. I decided on using Bloodwood for both the finger board and neck because I wanted a neck that was strong and stable. Something that all my past basses I have owned were lacking. This neck is the most stable neck I have ever had. Set it and forget it truss rod adjustment. The neck is flawless. The most beautiful blood red colour. The thin fast EVO gold frets are amazing. Alexander cuts his fret slots with a CNC machine, leaving the wood at the fret end untouched in stead of cutting the fret slot all the way across the finger board with a saw. Almost like binding but better. It adds more stability to the finger board and looks and feels great. He also added some custom inlays to personalize the neck for me.

The communication with Alexander during the build process was amazing. No detail was overlooked. Again, Alexander's fret work is impeccable. I like a low action on my bass and have a light attack. I was able to lower my action to the lowest I have ever had it with this neck not a single buzz (un less I want it to). Super fast. The oil finish on the neck is smooth and feels great in your hand. If it was possible to put 6 strings on a stick of butter and play it, this would be as close as you could get. The tone, sustain and punch from this neck is crazy. I have played hundreds of basses in my 25 years of playing and this is by far the best neck I have ever played. We are now in talks for a body to match. I can't wait. This will be my forever bass!

Brad Hess
I've been playing guitar for 15 years but never seriously cared about tone until I bought a new 2012 Gibson Les Paul Standard. I've owned and played Fenders, Gibsons, and the other major brands and am used to playing quality made instruments. I first met Alexander when I was looking for a luthier to repair my Les Paul after tragically dropping it headstock-first onto a hardwood floor, cracking the neck where it met the fretboard at the nut. My straplock just let go! He greeted me by giving me a tour of his shop, explaining his current projects, and introducing me to his vast selection of tone woods. With only the well being of my Les Paul in mind at the moment, I only wanted to be sure it could be fixed and that Alexander was the man to do it. After explaining to me it was a tough job, he fixed my Les Paul very quickly and it was like it never happened!

After seeing some of Alexander's work in the shop and hearing what knowledge he had of what tones toexpect from different building materials I gave building a custom guitar some serious thought. He was beyond fantastic to work with. He was very patient and fit me into his schedule whenever it was convenient for me. I told him in detail exactly what I wanted and it was like he already knew! He made valuable input since this was my first time doing anything like this. I always knew I wanted a custom guitar but thought I would just have a Gibson or Fender custom made... I'm happy I didn't! I felt very involved with the entire process. Every single detail was what I wanted, rather than having a "cookie-cutter" model with some minor alterations. I really felt like anything was possible!

After making some final decisions on wood, neck specifications, electronics and pickups, the guitar was finished in a quick 10 months. I was given updates and photos along the way. Alexander and I met up at a guitar show in Ottawa where he presented me the instrument. It simply took my breath away! I couldn't wait to get it home and plug it into my rig. When I did I was in love... everything was perfect! My expectations were blown away. The tone and playability was impressive. I really don't need any other guitar. This one does it all! The craftsmanship of this instrument is astounding. Truly a work of art! I can't believe I know someone who can make stuff like this!

Alex Ungar
I had always wanted a custom built instrument. I even built one myself, but it lacked the master quality that you would want out of a custom guitar. I started hunting for luthiers and after looking at a dozen or more I found Alexander James. After investigating his site and Facebook I was drawn to the Ursa Model.

I like somewhat traditional influences but the Ursa has just enough of Alexander's unique style to make it one of a kind. His knowledge and understanding of exotic woods also intrigued me. After speaking with him and making a trip to his shop I knew he could create an instrument that would meet my tonal and aesthetic preferences.

The designing phase with Alexander is a breeze. Purple Heart is one of my favorite hard woods. All he needed was my preference for a mid-range tone and my love of Purple Heart to come back with a list of specs that impressed me. My instrument was built out of two different species of mahogany and of course a Purple Heart top. He threw in custom Purple Heart pickup rings free of charge. He found a unique piece of mahogany for the back that has a uniquely "loud" resonating tone to it compared to other pieces of mahogany. You cannot get this from any store bought name brand!

I was impressed with his attention to detail and commitment to the quality of his instruments. He finished my guitar but would not let it leave the shop for two-three weeks to make sure that it received multiple set ups as the neck settled under the string tension. When I brought my instrument home, admittedly worrying that I would find something I didn't like, my expectations were more than exceeded. It sounds and feels amazing. Store bought guitars require sets ups and servicing in most cases to correct the intonation or fret work soon after purchasing. Who wants to spend more money after already paying for your instrument? Alexander does an amazing job with his set ups and you can trust that you will not find a buzzing or muted fret anywhere. I am completely satisfied with my one of kind instrument and will most likely be visiting him again!

Mark Richardson
When I first met Alexander James to do some work on my beloved Les Paul, I off handedly mentioned an idea for a guitar that I had been thinking about for a while, a Les Paul style single-cut with a bit of Telecaster flavour that would deliver a vast dynamic range and flexibility that I wished my Les Paul had. After a great discussion, I promptly visited the closest ATM to put down a deposit on what would later become the Ethos project. Enthusiasm and an absolute devotion to quality are just two of many qualities that Alexander James possess that have made my first custom ordered guitar an absolutely wonderful experience. The result was far greater than I could ever have imagined. The feel of this guitar is just incredible, I have never felt a neck like this before and the beautiful rounded body is beyond comfortable. Most importantly, it's a dream to play and has the awesome tonal flexibility I had been lusting for. It was a great experience picking out woods, deciding on hardware, going back and forth with Alexander James on body shape ideas and discussing every tiny detail of the project to ensure that the guitar of my dreams would be just that. I have been so pleased with my guitar that I have already started dreaming up a few new projects for him to turn into reality.

Ryan Alvarado
It's hard to find such quality customer service and products nowadays. It's been a great pleasure to discuss every design detail of my guitar over many emails and phone calls. 60 picture updates and 57 emails later, I received my guitar to find it looked even more spectacular in person. In my 13 years of guitar playing, this is the first time I've truly started to care about tone. Thus far, every facet is superior to every other guitar I've touched, heard, and seen.

Ryan has written an in depth review of his custom guitar. Read it here.

Sam Quinn
To say that my custom Alexander James Guitars Jazz Tribute is the best bass I have ever played is only telling half the story.

I have played my fair share of basses, many exceptional, several not so much and after cycling through many it came time that I needed a forever instrument. I coveted a versatile, thick, warm-sounding bass that would sound just as at home at a coffee house jazz gig as it would on the raucous of rock-show stages. I wanted something contemporary but with a fundamentally vintage sound; something that could handle any of the situations my increasingly demanding sessions request of it. My mind turned to the Laklands, Sadowskys and Alleva Coppolos of the world. However, I ended up finding my way to Alex's workshop located not in Southern California, New York City, Chicago Japan or any of those other typical hotbeds of well-made guitars, but Peterborough, Ontario.

This bass has tone to spare and a comfortable neck you cannot find on any stock basses these days. I have owned this instrument for a short period of time but I already feel as though I have played it all my life. I have the utmost confidence that I will never need another bass. If you are looking for a high end instrument that looks as good as it sounds, I cannot recommend Alexander James and the team at Alexander James Guitars enough.

Will Dunning
I am the happy owner of Alexander James' "Ursa Macassar Ebony Guitar". I became aware of him though a very favourable review on the website of the 12th Fret. Coming from what is one of the GREAT guitar stores, the high praise definitely got my attention.

Alexander James loves guitars and he loves exotic woods - now, that is a glorious combination of obsessions.

The photo on the website doesn't do it full justice - the textures and colours in this guitar are more subtle (and stunning) than in the photos. And, the hardware choices he made result in a very wide tonal palette, ranging from clean, acoustic, and/or jazzy to crunchy and dirty. Another plus - the "neck-through" design results in a very small heel and excellent access to the upper register across all 6 strings.

Dave Stephan
1. I bought my first Alexander James guitar in April 2011; it's the Ursa Maple featured on the 12th Fret website. As nice as the guitar looks in those pictures, it's even nicer when you're holding it in your hands. I'm always knocked out at how beautiful the Ursa is; the workmanship and the quality of the woods and parts that Alexander use really stand out. Then, when you start playing! The guitar has a shimmering sound to it, it's kind of hard to describe but the combination of the brightness of the maple, the warmth of the ebony fretboard, and the sustain from the neck-through design sound great!

2. One day last December when I was playing this guitar, I was enjoying it so much that I thought I should send Alexander an email saying just that. He replied saying that he appreciated the comments, and that he happened to have the Ora Ziricote guitar available, and would I be interested in buying it? I immediately cursed him for making such terrific guitars, and since my powers of resistance were low, I bought it. Another hit! The ziricote/bubinga combination works really well; when I strum a chord or pick a note and hold it, not only does the sustain go on forever, but I can feel the vibration of the sound going right through the guitar. I couldn't be more pleased with Alexander's guitars.

3. This is getting out of hand! I just bought my third Alexander James guitar, the Xylon African Blackwood, and it's even nicer than the Ursa Maple and the Ziricote. The attention to detail, workmanship, and quality of woods, pickups, hardware, etc. leave nothing to be desired (until Alexander makes me another offer that I can't say no to). At this rate, my next purchase will have to be of an extra-long extension cord to run out to the cardboard box that I'll end up living in with my guitars and amp. Judging by all of the glowing reviews on this page, you can see that Alexander has built himself a company and reputation that will hold him in high standing for a long time to come. Great work!

Jamie L.
Being local afforded me the opportunity to gain a special level of customization on my guitar. Every 2 weeks or so I was able to stop by Alexander's workshop to check out the progress of the instrument and consult with him on new innovations being tested out on my guitar. This involved things like a thinner profile body and complete removal of the notch where the neck meets the body.

The finished product provides amazing sustain, fast playing and unparallelled fret access. A blend pot in place of a pickup switch provides unlimited tone options and the guitar seemingly never goes out of tune.

Jake Bartoli
I purchased an Alexander James custom Ursa model guitar about two years ago and I am thoroughly impressed with the dedication and craftsmanship that has been put into this instrument. The design is fluid and inspiring, and being able to customize the specs means it is exactly the sound I was looking for. Having an instrument that inspires me is an important factor in my creative process, and Alexander James guitars delivers just that.

Jacob Gosselin
I recently purchased an Ora guitar from Alexander James Guitars and I am amazed by the quality of this instrument. The great design, combined with top quality exotic woods provide one of the best playing experiences I've had with a guitar. This guitar has a beautiful tone, which can be modified in any way to match your playing style, thanks to the blend pot pickup selector and the humbucker/single coil switch, not to mention that this guitar never goes out of tune and has amazing sustain. I am truly impressed by Alexander James' guitars and I would recommend them to any guitarist and I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

Jean Carbonneau
I bought my Alexander James Ebony Dios guitar at the Montreal Guitar show 2012.

I am kind of a small guitar collector. I own a few guitars like a 1967 Gibson ES330, 1978 Gibson Les Paul, Gretsch Duo Jet, Fender Strat Eric Johnson, and also some other luthier guitars like a Godin Montreal and XXL U2 Bigsby. I would say that my new Alexander James Ebony Dios guitar completes this small collection. It is a very versatile guitar going from superb acoustic piezo sounds to a very nice clean jazz tone. Of course, it can sound very smooth or hard rock-ish as well. The SH2 Jazz pick up from Seymour Duncan mixed with the flat wound strings make it sound smooth with lots of sustain. I find this very nice and different from the other guitars in my collection. Also the semi hollow body with the neck-through design must have something to do with this superb sound. I actually use the Dios with a Mesa Boogie Mark IV for clean and a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier for overdrive. They pair beautifully.

The Alexander James Ebony Dios guitar has a unique shape and superb wood to match. The top and back are made of black Ebony which is like no other guitar I have ever seen before. I am going to keep this guitar for the rest of my life.

I want to end by saying to you Alexander: Just keep creating those beautiful pieces of art.