Sometimes it’s the things we don’t like that point us toward what we want to do. For David Kirkham of Malyse Intende, it was his very first guitar.

“My first bass was a black, off-brand PJ bass. I had it for about three months before I was ready for an upgrade. I traded it in for an Ibanez SR400 PJ in metallic green and proceeded to cover it in stickers. The upgrade was much better on the ease of play and I loved having more tone options. Every instrument I have owned or played has had an effect on how I craft my instruments. Each has had some aspect I liked, disliked, and some that needed tweaking to my preferences.”

It was around 2008 when dissatisfaction struck again:

“I had a bass that I wasn’t happy with, just a dead muddy tone and never played it. It had a transparent black finish on it and I really wanted to refinish it in a satin lime green.” The decision to refinish that bass is what started David down a path to custom guitar building. And for someone obsessed with perfection, it’s been a path with more than a few bumps.

“I’m self-taught. Schooling, with hands-on guidance, is best in any field. But there are real-world complications and tricks that you just have figure out as you go. Every instrument is different, and every one has its own quirks. You have to be able to think out of the box, and only experience helps you with that.”

If he could go back and give some advice to the David just starting out?

“Get more information and practice on gloss finish application and buffing! The toughest thing for me has just been figuring out how to get the appearance and feel I am looking for on each instrument; getting the cleanest finish possible. High gloss, satin, open pore finishes…they all react differently to the graphics or color schemes I go for. Every mistake or blemish gets emphasized with clear coat. It all has to be perfect or you will see it.”

Drawing his inspiration from anything and everything that catches his eye: the finish on a passing car, a new movie, or the weekend hike, David seeks to give his customers a truly unique instrument.

“I let my customers choose their pickups and wiring, but if they don’t have a preference, I like to go for a well-rounded sound for guitars, and a more aggressive tone quality on basses. I like to add more visual punch to an instrument, make it look as good as it sounds and plays. I do some gimmick guitars, as well as custom finishes including artwork airbrushed, or wood burned on the body. Every guitar is one of a kind.”

So if you too have found the standard, off the rack guitar…lacking…then you should be giving a call to David Kirkham of Malyse Intende. He’ll help you find what you’ve been missing.