Macmull Custom Guitars and its fearless approach to reinterpreting the classics
We speak to owner Amit R Sadras about how the Israeli guitar brand turned a passion project into a viable business by focusing on timeless designs.
How did you get into guitar?
“Our story began when Tal and I met as kids. We’ve been friends ever since. We built our first two guitars in 2004, when we were 16. Tal was always that kid who could naturally fix anything. He could find technical errors and, despite having no formal experience, come up with solutions quickly. He still isn’t afraid of turning a vision into a reality on the workbench, which is often a difficult thing to do.
“We were music-obsessed teenagers back then. We couldn’t collectively afford to buy a guitar good enough to meet our standards but thankfully we shared a passion and a deep mutual ambition. Tal had technical experience and I had playing experience. Just like that, the seedlings of Macmull guitars were planted.
“We were getting into it deep at a time when it was difficult to find literature and information. YouTube wasn’t even a thing yet. We had no choice but to work hard and learn through blood sweat and tears. We’re self-taught, which gave us the drive to get things done.”
What was the moment you realised you had a viable business?
“In about 2010, after spending a few years completing our mandatory army service, we started taking our profession more seriously. I was into the worlds of guitar and sound, and had my own recording studio at the time. We were always involved in each other’s work. I helped Tal in the workshop and he helped me in the studio. At that point, our business was local and so were our clients. After so many years of guitar and sound research, we had the dream of doing something that hadn’t been done before.
“We wanted to fix the issues we had in the studio and workshop, and ultimately discover how to bring back that vintage sound to the forefront of the modern guitar building. We put all of our passion, knowledge and experience together and Macmull Custom Guitars was born. Sharon Levi came into our lives in a very dramatic way. He’s our in-house devil’s advocate, and he’s unafraid to be constructively critical where necessary. Sharon became a Mentor to me and Tal, and he was a big influence at Macmull thanks to his genuine musician’s perspective.”
Starting a small business is tough. Did you get any help or support in the early days?
“The only investment was self-investment. We’ve invested our hearts and souls, every minute of every day. No investors or government grants. We’ve had a few offers from business investors and partnerships but we tend to refuse them because we don’t want to sell Macmull’s identity.”
At what point did you feel like you’d nailed your branding?
“There are so many great vintage-style builders out there, and we all share the same outlines and curves. We had to come up with something that will represent our philosophy of simplicity. Our original headstock was testament to that and became the symbol of Macmull guitars in terms of branding.”
How did you come up with your best-selling product?
“Our Heartbreaker series. Our approach to sound is bright and unique, which makes our guitars a natural choice among many players. We’re coming at it from the perspective of pro musicians and want to make our instruments for pro users. We believe that the spiritual bond between the musician and their instrument is crucial, so we think about how we can elevate that inspiring connection.”
What’s your proudest moment as a maker?
“We’re proud every time a client receives a guitar and writes to us expressing how it’s changed their perspective of what an instrument should be. We think about what makes the instrument beloved by musicians and the bond between them. When you spend too much time on artistic add-ons or use expensive pieces of wood purely because they’re expensive, you distract yourself from the target: making an instrument for music. An unforgettable moment came when we plugged the final Heartbreaker prototype into a real amp. Macmull tone means clarity, extended dynamic range, tight bass response, defined, rich and complex harmonics and, the most important thing, midrange.”
What are the biggest opportunities for the guitar industry in 2020?
“When you choose to make top-end guitars, your brand’s about passion and not all about business, and you need to reserve your place in that pyramid. The key element is always looking forward and having a solid plan for the future. For a boutique company like ours, that’s not an easy task. But we are enjoying the benefits of having a small tight-knit family team and we’re embracing the journey. We feed our souls through our work. Music is bigger than us and it’s music that will ultimately fuel Tal and me to continue this obsession for the rest of our lives.”
What’s next for Macmull Custom Guitars?
“We launched the Heartbreaker NEO series this year. It’s our way to come out with something new but stay classy and simple. We’re currently working on a bigger project, a whole new series (not T- and S-style guitars). It’s something that will take our philosophy to the next level in terms of simplicity and unique design.”
Find out more about Macmull Custom Guitars at macmull-guitars.com.
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