Millimetric’s Florian Bouyou on the unique design ideals of his minimalist guitars
Find out how the intriguing brand, which offers instruments inspired by Scandinavian furniture, got started.
How did you get into guitar?
“I started playing guitar about 15 years ago when I was leaving my parents’ home and playing drums was not a daily option anymore. A friend lent me a guitar and I got hooked to the immediacy and possibilities that were in front of me, especially with effect pedals and other gear.”
When did you start building or tinkering with guitars?
“Quickly after getting my first guitar I started to get pedals and amps to find new sounds and start experimenting. A friend gave me his Aria LP Custom copy and I started taking it apart and replacing parts, experimenting with its sonic possibilities. At that time, I was studying graphic design and started drawing guitar shapes and ideas. I then wanted to study guitar making and applied to Montréal’s Bruand luthiery school but got refused, so I went for the cabinet making program instead and got hooked on building Scandinavian and minimalist furniture. In the middle of my third year, I built my first guitar heavily inspired by Obstructures and Travis Bean aluminium designs. A few years after that, around 2012, Millimetric Instruments was born.”
What was the moment you realised that you had a viable business?
“After building my first few guitars and starting my Instagram page, I quickly realised that my designs were filling an empty space on the market. I found a niche and got deeper into it, embracing minimal designs and colourful finishes. When my MGS3 was released I got a few orders in a matter of weeks, and then felt like maybe someday I would be able to do that full time. Fast forward to a few years later and I now make 20-25 guitars a year.”
Did you have any external investment or support starting out?
“The hardest part in guitar building is getting the tools and space. I started very slowly, sharing a woodworking shop with friends and buying a few tools every few months when money allowed; I think patience was the key. I kept it as a side gig for a few years and was trying to get my brand seen on social media, forums and Facebook groups. I never really got grants or investors, I just got financial and moral support from my parents and most importantly my wife who was always there for me, supporting me no matter what.”
At what point did you feel like you’d nailed your branding?
“Branding is something very natural with me and is often the first thing I think about when starting a new project. I think the first time it all made perfect sense was when I made the first Millimetric Instrument business cards for a local arts and craft show called souk @ sat. The logo came very early on. A few months after my first guitar I found the name Millimetric while going to bed, and I quickly did a few tests on my computer. I think people overlook that part way to often and don’t see the benefits of a strong branding.”
How did you come up with your best-selling product?
“My best-selling model is the MGS3. I came up with it because I always felt my first model was too brutal and minimalist and a bit out-of-reach visually for people that don’t have a design background. The 2010s were the years of offset guitars. Lots of people, including me, wanted Jazzmasters or other offset shapes. I just took a chance and designed what a Millimetric Instruments offset would look like. I took a Jazzmaster shape and simplified it as much as I could without removing its funkiness. I’m still working on the vibrato part though!”
What’s your proudest moment as a maker?
“I think the proudest moment was when I opened the shop in the house I bought with my wife. I dreamt of having a place like that for years and I think it’s a goal for a lot of luthiers to have their own space, a place to grow things and ideas. Everyday I enter the shop and it reminds me how lucky I am to have this place and be able to make guitars for people around the world. ”
What are the biggest opportunities for the guitar industry going forward?
“2020 really is a very intriguing year, it certainly is the worst for a lot of things. But curiously it’s been an amazing year for me business wise. I hear colleagues around the world say their numbers of orders have exploded and they’re very busy. It’s always been very important for me to encourage local and small businesses that make original things. It’s good for your local economy but also its our environment, and we all know that the biggest challenge right now is changing our habits and to stop buying cheap things that don’t last. Small builders like me, and there are a lot of them, make things slowly with care and are often a far better choice in the long run.”
What’s next for Millimetric Instruments?
“I have a lot of things in the works; two new models and a few updates on current designs or parts. I’m always trying to make my products better and always find little things to tweak. It’ll take quite a while for the new models to arrive but I’m excited to share them soon. Keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram or Facebook page for teasers and details.”
Find out more about Millimetric at www.millimetric.ca.
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