James Trussart Custom Guitars

Best Custom Guitars, August 2009

The instruments coming out of the Echo Park studio of James Trussart Custom Guitars look like they have a story to tell. The weathered finish and one-of-a-kind details set his steel-bodied electric guitars apart, while the vintage silhouettes of the Telecaster and Les Paul give the illusion that they have been cradled for decades in the arms of a bluesman or rocker. A musician turned fiddle maker, Trussart began to craft guitars in the early 1980s, and the quality of their sound quickly earned an audience. The distressed veneer was an accident: A leaf fell and left its mark on one he’d forgotten outside. Now he purposely exposes his creations to the elements or hurries the process by soaking them in water. As he applies the finishes he’ll also add, at the customer’s request, exotic skin textures (alligator, snake) or engravings (roses, barbed wire). Keith Richards, Paul Simon, Lucinda Williams, and Sheryl Crow each strum a Trussart, as does French rock legend and fellow countryman Johnny Hallyday. Prices run from $3,800 to $7,000.