With many guitar brands, you kinda know what you will hear or feel before you pick the instrument up. I see a Collings, I usually expect to hear an edgier/chimier tone, a Goodall I think more lush and overtone. But there isn’t a big range between their offerings – and the general market likes items that they can classify by part number and easily categorize, and fall easily into expectations.
Santa Cruz, unfortunately, doesn’t fit that mold as easily – they are known for their excellent build quality, while still being largely hand-made, and they are also known for their general balance, which is not EQ. But every model of Santa Cruz guitar you play has a tone and eq that is idealized in that model. Add to that the fact that so many SC guitars are custom in some way, and you get even further from a standardized model no/classification system – you get unique instruments that kinda require you to partner with them as you play. Not every SC is right for every player, but SC can build the right guitar for any serious player, and their standard models are excellent choices for anyone not entirely sure or ready to customize their choice –
Most small builders / solo luthiers work really hard to achieve consistency, so their name and models and product has that same appeal that the large factory shops have, with the main goal being to meet a consumer price point. Sure, the chocolate and the strawberry taste different, but you know it all came from McDonalds. The next step up, the one that is almost impossible to achieve without a great deal of continual evaluation, is to keep everything that is necessary to the essence of the thing, but to maximize the potential of the process and materials. Richard has brought Santa Cruz as close to that as you can achieve – a solo builder can only make so many instruments one at a time, and a production shop generally gets its advantage from building more generically in quantity. Richard has melded the unique combination of the solo builder along with the cost savings and precision production capabilities of a small factory. Its an unusual business model, too hard for many to understand, and it exists solely due to Richards drive and vision – and unfortunately, what people don’t easily understand, they don’t usually value (or are willing to pay for ) –
I tend to think of it as a choice – you can just go buy a guitar made by some other shop, but with Santa Cruz and Richard, they build YOU a guitar. A limited number of people will truly appreciate it – but luckily, he only needs a limited number of us. We just need to help spread the word to others who can appreciate what SC does –
PS – I don’t complain that Santa Cruz generally don’t demand high used prices – its helped me get some incredible guitars I probably couldn’t have afforded otherwise – 😉
Lots o’ SCGC guitars! But never ask which is my fav