The '71 turns 10

I’ve told the story more than a few times, so here’s the condensed version. For decades, my dream guitar was a Gibson Les Paul like Ace Frehley’s. When I was 14, I got a DIY Les Paul kit for Christmas, and I was elated. I glued the neck in, painted it black (naturally), and took it to the local guitar shop to have the assembly and setup done (this was 1986, long before I started the youtube channel, and guitar building information wasn’t really available to me).

Steve at Villano’s Music looked it over, sighted down the neck, sighed, and told me that the neck was so twisted that it’d never be playable. I was CRUSHED. A few years later, I bought a single cutaway 1961 Gibson Melody Maker. Played great, but it was too light, and I constantly felt I’d break it. So I traded it in for a USA BC Rich STIII with a Floyd and a snakeskin paint job. That guitar ruled.

I got my first Gibson Les Paul in 2004. It was a black ‘73 Custom that had huge frets installed. I was stoked. It looked so cool, but I never really liked playing it. Sold it a couple of months later. In 2008, I thought I’d find a trashed Les Paul on eBay for cheap, fix it, and make it my own. I filmed the entire process (and there are many things in there that I did that make me laugh now), and you can find it on the YouTube channel. When it was complete, I thought it was okay; it played well, it sounded fine, but I just didn’t care about it (even with all of the work I put into it).

The original sketch

The original sketch

I eventually realized some key points about Les Pauls that kept me from keeping one and decided that I needed to make my own version of it. Of course, it couldn’t look like a copy (otherwise why bother?), so on September 13, 2009, I started drawing.

And drawing.

And drawing.

I’d make some changes, let it breathe for a while, come back to it, make some changes, let it breathe for a while, etc. Once I realized I had analysis paralysis, I started making templates based on the design. And made changes. I made the first body in November of 2010, and while it was pretty much what I had in mind, the final body shape was realized in June of 2012. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t working day in and day out, poring over every little detail; I’d simply make something, live with it, and come back to it and refine. It’s one of the only times in life I can think of when I’ve been patient, but this method seems to have served me well over the years.

The idea of the ‘71 turns 10 in exactly three months. It’s had an interesting life so far, and if I could only build one guitar; that’d be it. It’s absolutely the most “Sully” Sully model that I’ve built to date. I think there should be some kind of commemoration for this, but I’m not sure what it looks like just yet. I’ve got tons of photos of the progress of the first five ‘71s; maybe they’d make a nice book. I’ve got hours and hours of unused ‘71 related videos; maybe it’s be neat to edit them down into something. Hell, maybe I’ll make one that uses some of the elements of the original sketch. So many ideas. I think I’ll live with the ideas a little, come back to it, and see where we are.

Summertime and the livin' is covered in sawdust....

Hey kids, how about an update?

Custom orders are closed

As mentioned a few weeks ago, the custom order books are now closed. We’re hoping to open up a few spots in the fall, but we may need to close them through the end of the year. During this time, we’ll be focusing on the following:

Current custom backlog: There are a lot of guitars in the build process, and I need to get them moved along.

Conspiracy Series: Run 2 of the Conspiracy Series arrived at Sully HQ, and I need to get them processed and shipped. Spares will be made available shortly thereafter, so if you missed out, all may not be lost (as long as you wanted something that was popular in the pre-orders). They’ll be posted on our Reverb store.

Run 3 Conspiracy Series pre-orders will remain open for a little while longer, so for those who wanted flame tops and trans finishes, your wish has been granted.

Ormsby Guitars/Sully Guitars mashup: It’s something we’ve been discussing for a while, and we’re getting close to making it available for pre-order. It’ll be gold, Jerry! More on that this summer.

Preparing for the arrival of our CNC: Yes, the robot is coming. I’m excited. You should be, too. CNC technology is something we’ve been using to various degrees for years, and I look forward to full implementation and assimilation. Since I’m still working in the same small space I’ll need to tear some things down, build some new things, and let some tools go (I’m looking at you, pin router).

Standard Series: With the arrival of our robot overlord, we should be able to roll out the Standard Series, which is something I’ve wanted to offer for a few years. We have the Conspiracy Series, which brings a lot of Sully goodness to you at less than 1/2 the price of a custom, but I’ve also wanted to offer a product line that’s between the Conspiracy Series and our Custom Series. I’m not 100% sure what it will look like just yet, but I’ve been working toward it for a while now, and I think I have a pretty good idea.

Oh yeah, and my favorite 800lb gorilla, NAMM. If things continue as they should, you just might see a new model. Or more.


NAMM 2019 Recap

NAMM. Huge fun, huge blur. Super excited to have been able to share not only customs, but a bunch of the Conspiracy Series guitars. Proud to say that Sully Guitars will now be available in Chile through EAS, with a plan to expand into South America. We’re in conversations to get into the UK as well as Japan, so stay tuned for updates.

We’ve added new artists like Roman Surman, lead guitarist in Wednesday 13’s band, and he’s got his Conspiracy Series Elita and Raven out there with him. Longtime friend Andee Blacksugar (KMFDM, Black Sugar Transmission) has joined the artist roster, and we’ve got a few other artists that we’ll be announcing soon.

Special thanks to Victory Amps; they had a Conspiracy Series ‘71 Starling and 624 at their booth, and we look forward to future collaborations.

Enjoy some photos and videos below!

Head like a Hole!

Buckcherry released a video today of their killer cover of the NIN classic Head Like a Hole. It’s the first single from their upcoming album, Warpaint, which comes out March 8. You can see Stevie D and his signature Conspiracy Series ‘71 SD in the video, but I’m warning ya; if you’ve had more than a little bit of coffee recently, this may feel a bit like a speedball!

"Head Like A Hole" is a track off of Buckcherry's long awaited album "Warpaint" out March 8, 2019. Stream "Head Like A Hole" via: Buckcherry on tour: Directed by Jeremy Saffer

Retired model resurrection!

Yep, that's right; for a VERY limited time, you can place an order for a Catfish, a '92, or a Galaxy V. Prices have been reduced a bit (and the options are tightened up a little), but you have until 11:59PM CDT on 7/31/2018 to get your deposit in. It's a Christmas in July miracle! Want more info? Click me!

The Conspiracy Series - Tinfoil hats not included

I was really excited to reveal the prototypes for the Conspiracy Series last week at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. "What's the Conspiracy Series?" you ask? Why, it's the production line of guitars from yours truly! 

Made in South Korea by World Musical Instruments (same factory that produces Schecter, LTD, PRS SE, and many others), the Conspiracy Series gives me the ability to offer Sullys at less than half of the cost of a custom. The great thing about it is that they share some features with the custom, hand made guitars you're used to seeing from me (stainless steel frets, compound radius fretboards, premium hardware), but there are a few things I can do in the Conspiracy Series that would be cost prohibitive if offered as a custom (the combination of matte and gloss black in the paint job of the '71 SD, for example). The neck shapes are very Sully, the guitars feel solid, and all of the prototypes were acoustically loud and resonant. That's always been the main goal for me; if it rings before you plug it in, that's a good thing. 

'71 SD - Stevie D Signature model

While I was working on the idea of the Conspiracy Series on and off through 2017, I wanted to give the guitars in the series their own identity and style. For example, the Stardust has the 3/3 Aero headstock (which I've always thought was the best headstock for that model) instead of the Raven headstock that you've mostly seen with the Stardust, and it also has a forearm contour (all of the customs have a flat top and binding). Small changes, yes, but things that give them their own style.

The '71 Starling is based on the very first '71 I built; it's got a flat top and a forearm bevel that accentuates the shape of the body quite nicely. I also removed the wraparound bridge that is most commonly associated with the '71 and I think that the Hipshot hardtail bridge suits it very well. 

The headstocks all have the Sully logo, of course, but it's been adapted for the Conspiracy Series as you can see here

The first three guitars in the series are the aforementioned Stardust, the '71 Starling, and the '71 SD, which is the Stevie D signature model. Pricing starts at $1099 for the Stardust, the '71 Starling is $1199, and the '71 SD starts at $1249. Additional fan packages that contain extras like signed guitars, VIP Meet and Greets at Buckcherry/Josh Todd and the Conflict shows, and more. 

Pre-orders are open for a limited time, so check them out here. There are many different payment options available, and there's a bunch of extra information at the Conspiracy Series Facebook Group.

The guitars are absolutely killer, and I'm proud to have my name on them. I think you'll dig 'em, too. 



Stevie D and his '71 Trella on the cover of Guitar Player Magazine

When you were younger, did you ever go to one of those shops that will put your photo on the cover of a magazine? Me too! I still have the photo of 13 year old Sully on the cover of Hit Parader complete with props to make it look authentic; a Harmony acoustic guitar, some sort of animal print suit jacket and metallic tie. Totally believable, and before you ask, no, you can't see it. 

Stevie and I joked about that kind of situation when he called me in late July to tell me that he was going to be featured on the January issue of Guitar Player magazine with record label mates Rich Ward (Fozzy) and Ryan Patrick (Otherwise). I was so excited for him, and that was kicked up a notch when he told me that he'd be bringing his '71 with him for the photoshoot. At this time, he had the white '71 he'd been playing on tour, and his next one was just about ready to go to Billy at Rock N' Roll Relics for paint and aging. Since this was such a special thing, I really wanted to get it wrapped up and to him in time for the photoshoot, and as you can see, we made it happen. 

This has been a very exciting year for Sully Guitars, and seeing a guitar that I designed and built on the cover of an iconic magazine like Guitar Player remains something I have yet to wrap my head around. Subscribers got their copies earlier this month, and I've been keeping my eyes open for when they hit the newsstands. That seems to have been today, as I finally got my hands on one (okay, ten), and like Ron Burgundy, I was trapped in a glass case of emotion (but for a nice reason, no one punted my dog off of bridge like poor little Baxter). 

It's as good of a time as any to be thankful, and I absolutely am. While I've been floored at times about how things have gone this year, I know that these moments in life can be fleeting, and it's what you do with them that counts. I'm enjoying this moment and thinking ahead, and I'm really excited for the present and the future. 

Sooooooooo, go grab a copy of the January issue of Guitar Player, eh? 

Zero is here-o!

Long time Sully artist/guitarist extraordinaire Dee J Nelson's new album, titled Zero, is available to stream and purchase here! We're very proud to have Dee J playing his Sully guitars on this record, and hope you enjoy it. I think it's his most cohesive effort to date, and I've been cranking this record in the shop since I got my little hands on an advance copy. 

Also included in the album is a track from an upcoming project he has with singer Eric Liljehorn, titled Ravens. Obviously, I'm a big fan of the name! Dee J and Eric filmed a video for the song titled Ravens, which you can view below:

I hope you like the video and the album; check it out and tell a friend! Hell....tell all of your friends!

Stevie D on My Favorite Riff with Nikki Sixx

Along with the Sixx Sense radio show, Nikki Sixx has been doing video segments for the Sixx Sense YouTube channel called My Favorite Riff. Past guests include Joe Bonamassa, Steve Vai, Tom Morello, and most recently, Stevie D of Josh Todd and the Conflict and Buckcherry!

Watch the episode below and enjoy!

In this episode of My Favorite Riff, Nikki welcomes his friend Stevie D (Josh Todd and The Conflict/Buckcherry) into the studio. Stevie tells Nikki why he switched from sports to music, about getting lost in the notes and how he was forced to play Stairway To Heaven for his mother's friends.