Van Flowers, a luthier and owner of Phat Guitars in Virginia produces some of the most unique Tele & Strat style electric guitars on the market today. Van's guitars have made their way around the world in the hands of musicians such as Blackberry Smoke, Sister Hazel, Pat McGee, Carbon Leaf and Jesse Isley. Based on this alone it won't come as a surprise that business for Van exploded, leaving him with a common problem many businesses run into. How do we increase production without sacrificing quality?
This is when Van began to seriously consider adding a CNC to his shop. Since he started making guitars years ago, every aspect was completed by hand, and that simply wasn't going to be sustainable any longer. Van started researching CNCs and all of the capabilities that having one would provide. He learned that he would be able create profiles for guitar bodies and necks that would be exact matches to the ones he made by hand. This revelation was a game changer. By adding a CNC router to his shop he would be able to automate most of the really labor intensive parts and have his guitars in the “fit & finish” stage of production weeks faster than he ever could before.
Ultimately, Van decided on an Axiom AR8Pro for his shop. Aside from all the things he loved about the machine itself, what really sold him on an Axiom machine was the team of people who created it and the superior level of support they offered. He loves his new machine so much he had to give it a name, Ruby.
Since adding his Axiom CNC to his shop delivery time has improved by 400%. Van has been able to create a series of jigs for almost every step of the process, ensuring that every piece and part matches up every time during assembly. Because all the the intense manual work is now being done on the CNC, Van has been able to hire more skilled fit & finish luthiers keeping the last 20% of the work for them. This gives each guitar the handmade look and feel his customers expect.
If you want to lean more about Van and his team be sure to check out their website www.phatguitars.com where you'll find tons of pictures, videos and more.
Van's tip: “Join the forums, do your research and DO NOT think that because something is more expensive, it’s better – YOU will make your CNC system work for you – it has to meet YOUR needs – Axiom fit our budget, our space, and the unit is rock solid. It has all the features that I heard everyone talking about on the forums, and then some.”