notes and thoughts on custom
I'd like to present my perspective and address my philosophy on our custom instruments,
hopefully to prevent any disappointments and misunderstandings.
Proletarian quality is Subway's overriding theme and focus. For over 38 years we have been
assembling custom instruments at budget prices. We have liquidated partial, and entire,
inventories from factories and companies of their unwanted overstock; and we have re-manufactured
or cobbled together an amazing portfolio of guitars and basses.
Companies like Danelectro (the old Neptune, New Jersey operation) once sold us 4000 necks and
bodies. We've also bought old stock from the Gibson Kalamazoo facility and Fender, when they
closed their Fullerton plant. USA Kramer, Dean, Moserite, Dan Armstrong, Kay, Martin, Harmony,
Alembic, Hagstrom and Warmouth have added to our huge inventory of parts stash used to build these
The Subway operation is a collaboration of cottage industries in the San Francisco area. Over
the years it's been a pleasure to have on our crew luthiers like Larry Scott, Ralph Novak, Marc Silber, Steve
White, Michael Franti, Johnny Nitro, Chris Powell, Howard Klepper, Jon Otis, and many more.
I'm also trying to offer an alternative to today's market which has 95% of its instruments
sourced in Indonesia and China, and produced under deplorable labor practices. Incidentally:
these same deplorable labor practices are the same slavery that built (and continues to build) the
good ole' USA in all our years gone by.
The Subway view is not necessarily to offer the new, shiny, traditional instruments from China
or the stock look of Fender or Gibson re-issues. If you really need one of these, get one. We try
to create our own stuff with our own look and aesthetic.
Finish: If you want what is referred to as the "shiny, prick-red corvette" look, we're
not for you. Our finishes are handsome and functional, usually a clear or dyed wood stain with a
satin look and feel. It is non-toxic to produce. A good lacquer finish can add hundreds of
dollars to the price of the guitar, and the lacquer is poisonous to the user. We also offer a
punk-ish hammertone finish (a 1940s-era machinery finish) in solid, metallic colors.
Appropriate parts: This is a tough idea to communicate, so let me offer two examples:
- String nut: We offer nuts hand-tooled from bone, low action, accurate spacing,
but not particularly highly polished - the highly articulated look.
- Frets: Appropriately milled and polished.
When people ask: "How can you make these guitars for from $200-$400?" Let me ask you this: Do
you prefer that I charge you for a string nut, or frets with a finish, that are found on $2,000+
custom guitars? Appropriate, functional quality is our theme. You must ask yourself honestly:
Will you be satisfied with what is adequate and functional? Or do you prefer to spend a lot more
for super-polished and shiny appointments? If yes, there are many builders who will charge you
thousands of dollars for it.
Madison Avenue and Hollywood have sold some of us a value system where our self-esteem is
coupled to a superficial, shiny product. You must be honest and ask yourself: is this me?
We're the old school. On one of our custom guitars you might get Schaller gears with some
company's logo, or a neck plate with a company name, a pickguard made of ebony or smoked
plexi-glass. For years I imported large shipments of Korean necks and bodies to build our
instruments that were a synthesis: half import, half domestic. Some parts might be mis-matched,
but they are of top quality and functionality.
I hope to add you to our list of ecstatic customers. Musicians like Ry Cooder, Jackson
Browne, Taj Mahal, Billy Bragg, Joe Louis Walker, David Lindley, Robert Cray Band, have bought over a
dozen-plus instruments EACH from us. Steve Cropper, Les Claypool, Bob Dylan, Green Day, Mark
Knofler, Joe Satriani, Darryl Jones, Charlie Hunter, Jimmy Page, Cheap Trick, all have enjoyed our
custom instruments. See the more complete list at the Doghouse
for more happy customers.
Check out these factory-direct, wholesale
custom and retro guitars!
FatDog thought of 'em; now we create 'em --
at prices you can afford!
Want a custom job? It's all possible here!
For a quarter of a century the international music community has enjoyed
our custom creations. We've produced bargain instruments manufactured with
the new-old stock of now-defunct factories, including Dan Electro, Hagstrom,
Ampeg, Vox, Coral, Eko, Moserite, Fullerton/Fender®, and Kalamazoo/Gibson.
We've retro-ized these parts by upgrading the appointments -- gears, electronics,
and bridges -- from the Jumping Dog inventory AND we offer deluxe options
from Bartolini, Warmoth, and Moses.
Skip Heller's an old sort of jazz -
hillbilly - R&B - country - hotshop guitarist who wanted his dream guitar: a combination of a
jaguar, les paul, telecaster with a short mustang neck. It was such a success, we had many
requests for these, so we're now manufacturing them with a Moserite-style German carve with 24",
24-3/4" and 25-1/2" scale lengths. Also, electric 12-string and baritone neck. Choice of colors
and pickups from $600
7-string Jazz Guitar
L-5 size, big Florentine cutaway, sunburst, multiple bound body. Lawrence
A-400 Johnny Smith-style floating p-up with active EQ preamp in shoulder.
Special machined trapeze tailpiece. Available with a number of custom permutations
of electronics systems. $500
Hollow teardrop with doofus f-hole. Sunburst finish,
paddle peghead, two pickups. $350
Hollow teardrop with doofus f-hole. Sunburst finish,
paddle peghead, two pickups. $350
7-string jazz guitar
. cutaway, floating pickup $500
solid body $400
Subway single-cutaway Deluxe
with two traditional-style humbuckings $450
Soapbar ES-330-style made from '60s parts $400
rubyburst, Moses graphite neck, 9-volt EMG single-cutaway set.
USA Fender® neck, beautiful Warmoth Korina body, two
9w4s, active tone. $600
Subway stackpot re-issue jazz bass*.
All black, Alnico pickups, goldtone
lacquer neck with black peghead. $400
: gold sparkle glitter telecaster* with toiletseat
pickguard. Should be a tribute to Arthur "Big Boy" Cruddup $350
Retro Vox Teardrop
guitar. Spoon peghead. Doofus f-hole, two strat-style pickups. $350
Subway Baritone Single-cutaway
with graphite neck Blade pickups $750
all black with graphite neck $400
The only longscale fiddle bass
with J-pickup $350
like stingray with Bartolini MME and active tone. $500 [with J pickup, $600]
5-string bass with Warmoth neck, $600 [with J pickup, $700]
Thinline single-cutaway baritone
. Moses graphite neck, toiletseat pickguard.
Warmoth/Bartolini fretless. $800
The Fiddle Axe
Quasi-retro Vox utilizing a 30-year-old new/old stock big fiddle body, outfitted
with mini-humbuckers (or your choice of pickups) with the 3X3 Heritage-style
neck. Quality gears and bridge. from $375
FD-30: Subway's ES-330
NOS coral firefly body, long-scale six-in-line silvertone neck OR 3X3 rosewood
heritage-style neck, 2 chrome P-90 pickups, tunamatic bridge, sealed gears,
ornate trapeze tailpiece. from $400
Retro Teardrop Vox
Goofy f-hole and doofus peghead. $350
Custom Les Paul. Long-scale solid rosewood neck glued into mahogany body.
Stars brass tunamatic. Loaded with tone and sustain. from $750
The Bird Dog
A real Fatdog creation that started with a buy-out of beautiful and expensive
German solid maple Shadow bodies. Incorporates 2 mini-humbuckings under
a long double-cutaway scale-length and a string-through, non-trem bridge. A firebird
for the proletariat at only $350
. Comes in red, blue, black, and
sunburst. Maple or rosewood boards.
MAB bass (emerald)
Modern-style jazz bass*. Satin colors and composite of Modulus graphite neck, Alembic pickups, Bartolini active tone. USA sourced, ash body.
WAB Blue Stingray (detail)
WAB Blue Stingray
"Specific" bass in stingray tradition. A synthesis of Warmoth
fancy woods neck and body, big Alembic
soapbar in bridge position driven by active tone Bartolini
Subraze (blueburst) with added jazz
Upgraded standard Subraze with push-pull pot and two volumes. You get a plethora of instrument voicings and active tone. $600
THE Baaad "S" Bass
Active jazz bass* with Bartolini 9W4 pickups (1 coil per string), heavy-duty
bridge. Spector circuit board. Available w/Alembic pickups and Bartolini
tone circuit. Comes in black, ivory, blueburst, natural and assorted custom
colors: blue, green, gold and more. from $500
L-5 size, big Florentine cutaway, arch-top w/round sound hole and fancy
pearl trim. Choice of humbucking or lipstick tube pickup, active EQ pre-amp
system optional, short-scale Dan Electro neck. from $450
The only Long-scale Fiddle Bass
Sunburst, bound body, hollow, jazz bass* pickup, Gotoh enclosed gears 2x2
The "Subray" Stingray-style Bass
With Bartolini monster MME triple coil humbucker and Bart active NTBT tone
circuit. Push/pull vol pot switches from H.B. mode to single coil with hum
cancelling coil. Four- and five-string available with solid rosewood neck.
Heavy-duty bridge. Colors: blonde, black, ivory and blueburst. from $475
Similar to Sub-raze with custom Schaller pickups at bridge. Three distinct
tones and 3-band EQ. $450
1960 Stackpot Jazz Bass* re-issue
Jet black with matching peghead. Alnico pickups. $400
Limited Edition. USA Fender® neck, Warmoth body. Bartolini jazz bass* pickups
(9W4), active tone. $600
Traditional-Style Electric Guitars
Our Custom Single Cutaway
I've always liked these humbuckers under the long Fender® scale length. We'd
been making these Custom Creations for a number of years when we obtained
a huge pile of these Fender® humbuckers. The solid wood bodies are available
in blonde, black, ivory, blueburst and rubyburst. Lots of choices of necks:
from maple, rosewood and permutations from the Warmoth or Moses portfolios.
Can come with Bigsby-style tailpiece for you wankers.... The model shown
here is happily rocking in Puerto Rico. Here it is leaning against FatDog's
'36 Dodge pickup that he used to drive to Subway in the 1960s.Starts
1958 Double-Cutaway Replica
A 50s rockers dream: 58 Stratoid. Nice replica of a fiesta red 58 with
Alnico pickups loaded into a gold anodized metal pickguard, vintage-style
Kluson gears and vintage bridge. Solid wood body with gold-toned maple neck.
Can't beat it for $375
A great version of the traditional single-cutaway. (Even stoned-out jerks have rocked with this model.) For years we installed humbuckers in the neck position of teles
(I can see all the vintage dorks cringing about now). Humbuckers rule under
a 25-1/2 inch scale length. Fender® even got down with it in the 70s. Choice
of colors and bursts, with our assortment of necks from vintage to contemporery.
Also Warmoth and Moses graphite permutations. Single-cutaway deluxe starts at $425
55 Double-Cutaway 2-tone
They'll call you "Buddy" while you play this. It should come with
a pair of "geeky" glasses. Big, blonde, gold-tone neck; single-layer
white pickguard. $275
Midnight black graphite neck traditional-style Double-Cutaway
Pearl pickguard. Stealth. Great road-axe. $400
1960 three-tone sunburst traditional double-cutaway
Re-issue. Mint guard. You'll experience time-travel with the "real-ness"
of this. $275
Built from sunburst, multiple bound hollow longhorn body. 21 inch scale;
8 sealed gears; your choice of pickups. Lipstick tube or HB; wood bridge.
Special FD tailpiece. from $275
The Grande Baritone
If I had to choose one guitar, it would be a baritone. A 6-string bass, but tuned up. It has a Moses grapite neck with 24-frets, a traditional-style single-cutaway body in a blue- or rubyburst body. You have a choice of pickups from active to passive, EMG, Alembic or vintage-style. I can even make it with a thinline type of body. The voicing is tremendous, especially when run though a tremelo reverb amp. Starts at $750
Similar to Dan-E. $400
* Fender®, Jazz Bass® and Telecaster®
are all registered trademarks of the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation.
I understand your concerns about buying a guitar over the Internet. You can't put your hands on it. You don't know what it'll look like, what it'll sound like, how it will feel. Then there are the issues surrounding shipping anxiety: "Will it arrive undamaged?" "When will it arrive?" "WILL it arrive?" The concerns go on and on: "What's the tracking number?" "Will you ship it today?" "When will you ship it?" "Can I get it tomorrow?"
Here are five key points to put your mind at ease:
- Your purchase will definitely arrive in good, undamaged condition AND in a timely manner.
- Your purchase is insured against damage in transit.
- If you don't like what you've ordered, you can return it within two weeks of purchase.
- You have the option of a full CASH refund or a trade-in for something else you like. All you pay is the return shipping, which amounts to about $10 within the Continental United States.
- You just can't lose.
"Experience Ecstacy" for a week with your new guitar. If the instrument is not what you expected, then expect a full refund on merchandise returned in the condition of purchase. Fatdog considers this the backbone of good biz (and happy customers).
NOTE: There is no refund for shipping.
Trade-ins are seriously considered at a high value.
1800 Cedar Street
noon til six, Monday thru