Guitar Lust: B-Way Guitars’ Mercury Head

  • by Gitabushi

Back in 2012, on the guitar brand fan forum I used to frequent, one of the members posted an announcement that he was starting a line of guitars.  He designed the guitar himself, contracted a builder to make the bodies and necks and paint the bodies, and then did the finishing work himself.  He showed his prototype, and his first build, and posted some clips.  They looked interesting, and sounded great.

Here’s the story of how he got started.

That was it for two years.  He wasn’t exactly pumping out a huge volume of guitars.

In mid-2014, he posted pictures of his next build, which (IIRC, were his #3 and #4 production guitars). I had saved up some money in my guitar fund and wanted to purchase a premium guitar brand new, and I chose his.

Here is my guitar.

I had a great time discussing the build with Ben. We went through so many iterations talking about the pickups.  I ended up choosing P-Rails, flipped from the recommended configuration to get a little extra twang by moving the rails farther away from each other, one closer to the bridge for brightness, and the other closer to the neck for sweetness.  Then a 3-way switch to select bridge pickup, neck pickup, or both, and a 2nd 3-way switch to select P-90, rail, or both (in series/humbucking) I didn’t feel like I needed parallel wiring, nor was I worried about being able to pair the P-90 in one position with the rail in the other.  It would have made the wiring and switching too complicated. I have 9 distinct, awesome tones.

Well, he’s kept up the furious pace of guitar building he set early, and production guitar #8 or #9 is up for sale (depending on when you read this, it might not be for sale any more). I’m not sure if the fraternal twin is still being prepped or has already been sold.

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My guitar sounds wonderful.  The neck joint is very solid and tight, and I believe that increases tone and sustain. It is wonderfully ergonomic, making it easy to play. The fit and finish is flawless. You look at it, and pick it up, and it just feels like a luxury guitar.  Mine is worth every penny.  It is a guitar I can never sell, for various reasons.

I feel really proud to have one of the few B-Way Mercury Head guitars.  It is truly a prized possession, the jewel of my collection, and a great guitar to play.

Do what you have to to get one.

Here’s a gallery of guitars and guitar builds on the B-Way website.

The red one you see in that gallery?  It was purchased by Walter Becker of Steely Dan, and was one of his backup guitars, on stage with him in live performances.

Not too shabby!

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