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TopHat Guitars: Crafting Musical Excellence

TopHat Custom Guitars, emerging from the esteemed legacy of TopHat Amplifiers, epitomizes the fusion of traditional craftsmanship with an unwavering dedication to tone and playability. Much like TopHat Amps, it's not merely about the science; it's about the art of infusing the instrument with soul in both feel and sound. 

Led by Brian Gerhard and enhanced by the artisanal expertise of Chris Fleming, alongside the precision setups of James Carney, TopHat Custom Guitars is committed to creating instruments that not only produce rich, resonant sound but also harness the unique qualities that made certain vintage guitars legendary.

Brian Gerhard: A Lifelong Pursuit of Sonic Excellence

Brian Gerhard's journey from a young music enthusiast to the founder of TopHat Amplifiers is a story of passion, innovation, and an unwavering dedication to sound quality. Fascinated by the mechanics of sound from an early age, Brian began experimenting with electronic components and guitar design as a teenager, driven by a desire to understand and improve every aspect of how music is produced. This deep-seated curiosity led him to assemble and modify numerous guitars and amplifiers, gaining hands-on experience that would later form the cornerstone of his professional career.  

In 1994, Brian took a bold step by establishing TopHat Amplifiers. He was driven by the vision to blend the warm, nuanced tones of classic amplifiers with the reliability and versatility demanded by modern musicians. His amplifiers quickly garnered a reputation for exceptional quality, characterized by their detailed, rich sound and robust construction, becoming a favorite among discerning musicians worldwide.  

Building on the foundation of TopHat Amps, Brian has brought his passion for quality sound into the world of guitar manufacturing. With his extensive knowledge of audio dynamics, he crafts guitars that are more than just instruments—they are the ultimate tone generators. Whether it's a setneck or bolt-on model, each guitar reflects Brian's lifelong commitment to excellence and is designed to inspire even the most discerning musicians and collectors. 

His focus extends beyond offering an incredible lineup of ready-to-deliver spec builds; he also provides an affordable Custom Shop where you can let your imagination soar, creating a unique and personal instrument that will last a lifetime.

Chris Fleming: Master Collaborator for TopHat Guitars

Chris Fleming's collaboration with TopHat Guitars brings invaluable experience and a storied career from his days at Fender Custom Shop, where he was instrumental in creating some of the most iconic guitars in the music industry. 

At Fender, Chris mastered the craft of guitar building, specializing in custom orders that required a deep understanding of traditional and innovative guitar-making techniques. His role involved not only the assembly of guitars but also the intricate process of shaping each instrument's tone, feel, and aesthetic. 

Chris's expertise in relicing, honed over years at Fender, allows TopHat Guitars to offer instruments that look and feel as though they have been lovingly played for decades, providing musicians with a profound sense of history and authenticity. 

By collaborating with TopHat Guitars, Chris continues to apply his vast knowledge and skill, ensuring that each guitar reflects the musician's personality and caters to their specific sound preferences and performance needs. 

James Carney: Mojo - The Perfect Blend of Artistry and Playability 

James Carney is an integral teammate of the TopHat Guitars. James' is obsessed with providing the artist with build quality and playing experience. 

His meticulous attention to details , along with his passion as both a custom guitar maker and musician with over 5,000 gigs under his belt makes him invaluable for knowing how a great guitar should feel, sound and play. 

Leveraging his years of experience building/restoring many types of stringed instruments, such as violins, he is intimately familiar with the importance of tonewoods and the utilization of old-school and new-school building techniques to give each instrument its unique voice, or "mojo."  The time and great care he puts into every instrument reflects his love and passion as a builder and player. 

Joshua Spataro: Righteous Sounding Pickups  

Joshua began his search for the perfect tone 30 years ago with his first set of replacement pickups. This search led him to many boutique and large company pickup designs. Feeling that he never quite got the tone he was searching for, he decided to create it and formed his company Righteous Sound Pickups. 

His pickups are crafted from the finest hand-selected materials available, with hand-calibrated magnets, hand-shaped coils that are tensioned, and a premium build process that results in unsurpassed dynamics, responsiveness, and superior tone. 

Brian is working in collaboration with Joshua as he feels that Righteous Sound Pickups is a company that is quite literally defining a new kind of pickup that is organic in nature, not a cookie-cutter replica of a vintage design. His trailblazing designs epitomize tone, articulation, bloom, and personality, making them a perfect marriage with TopHat Guitars.  

Innovative Designs and Unique Offerings

TopHat Guitars has introduced several remarkable models that showcase the fusion of historical craftsmanship and cutting-edge innovation. Here's a closer look at three standout models, each highlighting different aspects of the brand's commitment to quality and uniqueness:

  • The Stratavarius Aztec Gold Relic is a prime example of Chris Fleming's expertise in creating guitars with a vintage feel that appeals to modern players. This model features an aged Aztec Gold finish on a lightweight Alder body, expertly recreated to capture the essence of a well-loved guitar from decades past. Its classic aesthetics are matched by modern playability and the unique tone provided by the Righteous Sound Bluebird pickups, making it a favorite among both collectors and performing musicians.

  • The Telavarius Junior embodies the elegance and power of simplicity. With its African ribbon mahogany body, the guitar is finished in a stunning whisky burst that is both visually appealing and sonically resonant. The single dogear P90 pickup by Righteous Sound ensures that this guitar delivers a sound as bold as its appearance, making it ideal for musicians who crave a distinctive tone with a strong vintage vibe.

  • The 59 Jazzavarius Blonde See-Through represents TopHat's venture into blending classic and contemporary elements. Featuring a lightweight swamp ash body and a transparent blonde finish, this model is visually striking. It's equipped with a unique combination of a true P90 in the bridge and a JM neck pickup, offering a versatile range of tones suitable for jazz, blues, and beyond. The upgraded Descendant tremolo and Schaller roller bridge enhance its performance, ensuring superior tuning stability and responsiveness.

Each of these models exemplifies TopHat Guitars' ability to merge the old with the new, bringing unique qualities to the forefront of guitar design. Whether through the detailed relicing process, the careful selection of wood and finishes, or the innovative pickup configurations, TopHat Guitars continues to provide musicians with exceptional instruments that are playable pieces of art and vehicles for musical expression.


Under Brian Gerhard's visionary leadership, designs, and handpicked components, TopHat Custom Guitars melds the heritage of TopHat Amplifiers with cutting-edge innovations, creating instruments that deeply connect with the musicians that play them. 

With Chris Fleming's experience and expert craftsmanship, along with James Carney's setups and unparalleled mojo, each guitar is an absolute pleasure to play and has its own voice and soul. This small, handpicked team ensures that every TopHat guitar embodies exceptional craftsmanship and superior sound quality, providing musicians with instruments that inspire creativity and enhance performance. 

As TopHat continues to push the boundaries of guitar making, it upholds a commitment to excellence, supporting musicians in their artistic journeys with instruments that are both timeless and innovative. 

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