‘Billy Boy’ guitars from Italy

One of the coolest, unique new guitar makers I’ve seen.

Although though it may seem like I love (and therefore want to own) every axe I see, I’m pretty picky with guitars. I can see the beauty in most guitars, but that doesn’t actually mean I’d want to buy them. For me to put my hard earned $$$ on the table on a new guitar design, it’d have to be pretty damn special. Most custom/boutique guitars nowadays are in some way clearly influenced by a few well known designs. Paul Reed Smith has been the main template for the high end market, his quilt top/twin humbucker etc format now seen everywhere. Strats, Tele’s, Les Pauls & 335’s are the basis for countless other small volume builders. Which is fair enough, these designs work well and are still popular 50 years after their conception.

Very few guitar makers actually design new, totally unique designs that ‘work’. I mean, there are plenty of builders out there building unique looking guitars… but most of them don’t really get me excited. They’re either too weird looking (yes, even I have my limits of weirdness) or they’re basically a Les Paul (twin humbuckers, tune-a-matic stop tailpiece format) slapped on some randomly cut out body shape and sold as a ‘new’ design. Schecter, ESP, BC Rich & Dean guitars… I’m looking at you.

Billy Boy Guitars though, a small one man operation in Italy, is making some VERY unique instruments which just happen to be razor sharp cool. His guitar body shape is like an inflatable Bo Diddley guitar… but with lots of curves thrown in as well. It’s got bits of Gibson Reverse Firebird along with Fender Jaguar in there as too. It sort of looks like what would happen if someone built a guitar that had been illustrated by Shag…

Unlike most builders, Billy also develops his own unique hardware. His tremolo system is genius. Instead of using a Bigsby or Jazzmaster trem…. he’s made a skull, with the strings being held on by it’s teeth, and the arm going through it’s eye. The thought that’s gone into it is fantastic.

The control plate is awesome as well. Vaguely based on the Telecaster,  it features awesome looking knobs with a sideways switching system. It totally suits the rest of the design too. Another thing that I like about Billy is that he’s not scared of experimenting with some cool pickup combinations. This guitar has what seems to be 3 Telecaster neck pickups splayed at various angles and positions, coupled with a Gretsch pickup at the bridge. Oh, and the 4 pin input looks pretty bad-ass as well…

I like this guitar as it features 2 of the favourite pickups, the mini Firebird humbucker and the Danelectro lipstick. The neck/middle & bridge/middle positions would sound frikken’ awesome. The tight power of the mini humbucker with the brittle bite of the lipstick… yum.

Another cool feature on some of Billy Boys guitars is his wooden bridge. A lot of people (me included) love the sound of original wooden Danelectro bridges, but they’re not what you might say the most precise of designs. Billy’s version fixes that. He’s developed what is basically a wooden tune-o-matic bridge. It’s a great idea, and one that I think would sound great with some high output lipsticks, or as Billy Boy has done… some sweet Gretsch pickups.

And then there’s Bill Boy’s basses. Oh my gawd… I mean, seriously. Look at how the pickguard and the fretboard end work together. So, so good.

In the end it’s the whole package that really grabs me. All the Bill Boy’s little bits and pieces that make up what is just a really, really, REALLY cool guitar. This guy has put a LOT of thought into each and every one of his axes and has made works of pure pop culture art that you can also play your dirty rock ‘n roll on. There’s not really much more to say… enjoy the following pics of these beauties.