Simon Roughan, Rough guitars. Making something beautiful. If this phrase might as well express thoughts. feelings that will fill the word 'beauty' with such function which must be the final aim of every creative man.
Simon, making any musical instrument is not at all a common profession. What were the main stages until Rough guitars have come into being?
My main reason for starting this hobby business is the outrageous prices of good brand name guitars. I wanted to buy another Custom Les Paul, and looking through the internet, came across the chinese copies. I had never seen or heard of them before, and was interested because they had such fantastic finishes, and were so cheap. I am no fan of fake brand goods, but I researched the making, and got into contact with a factory in China. I convinced them to built some guitars for me with my own logo, and headstock design. These guitars are not fakes or copies, they are OEM (Original Equipment Manufactured) Rough brand guitars. The build quality is excellent. (I’m sorry if you had the idea I build them alone from a bare piece of wood. This is not the case...)
What have you been inspired by?
My inspiration is to sell beautiful gig guitars to people who cant, or dont want to spend 1000s of euros. My guitars are meant to be played, not kept in a glass case. I believe there is a market niche there. The other important point is that I love to make stuff. My day job is in the digital world, so at the end of a days work, I have only a data file to show for it. It’s a fantastic feeling when you’re finished one, and holding a beautiful and beautifully playing guitar in your hands, thinking ”I made this...”
Shape, sounding appearance ! What aspects do you usually take into account when you start to design a guitar?
I like the typical traditional shapes of guitars. Les Pauls, Stratocasters and Telecasters. The form of these 3 examples haven’t changed significantly since the 50’s. The design is perfect, it’s amazing they got it right so early. Like a shark hasn’t evolved in 50 million years, because it hasn’t had to. My guitars are made from mahogany. All my new designs have ebony fretboards because of CITES. I put the best hardware I can into them, with the price in mind. For example, I used IronGear Hamerhead Pick-ups, instead of Seymour Duncan Invaders for the Burgundy LP. The SDs cost around 220€ a set. That would dramatically increase the price of the guitar. My objective is to keep the guitars affordable for normal wage earning working people.
How much do you let your own guitar world affect your instruments ?
I play rock ’n’ roll. I build the guitars to my own individual taste. I wouldn’t try to build a Gretsch style guitar, for instance, because I have personally very limited experience in how they should sound and play. I try to match pick-ups to the personality of the guitar. The sunburst LP, for example, looks more traditional, so it was built with AlNiCo PAFs. The Burgundy LP looks like a rock-monster, so it was equipped with high output ceramic pick-ups.
Simon, what plus do you think get into a Rough guitar ?
The personal touch. This is a hobby business for me. I’m in no hurry to finish and sell a guitar. I do it for love, not profit. Because of this, I take my time and do everthing very precisely. I give the guitar the same attention it would receive in an american custom shop. The fret leveling, the electrics, hardware installation, the set up, all meticulously done by me personally. Normally this kind of work is only done with new guitars costing 1000s.
Unbelievable supply can be found in the market. Inspite of this why Rough guitars are preferred?
Yeah, this is a huge and saturated market. But put a blindfold on, play a custom shop Les Paul worth 4000€, and play one of mine, you would be hard pressed to feel or hear a difference. That is how I’m marketing the guitars. CUSTOM GUITARS FOR THE PROLETARIAT. They’re super guitars, that are affordable. They are better playing and better set up than say, an Epiphone or an Ibanez in the same price range.
Finally, further projekts.
I have 5 more guitars being built for me at the moment. 3 more LPs, a Tele HH, and a Strat HH all with original headstock designs that I’m very excited about. As for the future of Rough Guitars? Who knows. Like I said before, this is a hobby job for me. I work in TV production, so it’s not that I have to feed my family from selling guitars. This is a long term project. I want to have something to do when I retire that perhaps makes a bit of ,money. I still have a few years before that.
Rough guitars home
Rough guitars home
Simon, thank you very much for your interwiev! Have a good work!