If you don’t know, now you know, Wildwoodians. Let’s take a trip down the secret passageway and see why the James Tyler Secret Society is such a special group to belong to.
James Tyler is a bit of a mysterious figure. He rarely gives interviews, and he doesn’t care to advertise, relying on word-of-mouth to grow his business. Here’s what we do know: after spending his teenage years taking apart his guitars “for no good reason,” he worked his way through college by doing repair work on guitars and cars. One has to imagine that this unique combination of experiences gave him an appreciation for old-world manufacturing techniques and modern precision engineering.
After spending a couple years as the main repair and restoration specialist at Norman’s Rare Guitars, he graduated to building guitars. At first, he assembled guitars out of parts from Schecter, Kubicki, and custom-made Tom Anderson parts. This was right as the Super Strat craze was taking off, and everyone in LA was looking for hot-rodded guitars with lightning-fast handfeel. James was the right man for the job.
True to form, James moved his shop to a building in North Hollywood with no signs of any kind that would even provide a hint that it was James Tyler’s HQ. But, greatness can’t escape notice for long, and soon there was a steady stream of renowned L.A. musicians trickling into his shop.
Word spread like wildfire that James was building instruments that played beautifully and sounded absurdly good, and pretty soon he built a large clientele. Thus began the era when the sound of James Tyler guitars dominated the airwaves. case in point: the most ubiquitous song of the eighties, Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, featured David Williams playing the song’s iconic riff on his Tyler. Tylers formed the sonic backbone of countless hits in the eighties, cementing James Tyler’s place in the pantheon of guitar Valhalla.
Tylers surged in popularity from then on, but James was never content to rest on his laurels. He pushed forward with innovative new finish techniques, and he came up with some of the coolest colors in the world with names like Psychedelic Vomit, Alien Guano, Barn Find, Malibu Beach Shmear, Burning Water, and our Wildwood-Exclusive finish, Ice Water. He also developed his own proprietary pickups, which sound absolutely otherworldly.
So, what is the secret behind the quality of James Tyler’s guitars? How did they impress so many studio musicians? The secret is James’s commitment to combining precise modern manufacturing techniques with old-world craftsmanship. Sure, they may use computerized milling machines, laser machines, 3D modeling stations, and engineering techniques from the aerospace industry in order to make sure that each guitar plays easily, but they make sure to leave plenty of room for the human element. Each neck is still given its final shape by hand, and the Tyler team spends hours sanding and painting the bodies and dressing the frets.
After that, each guitar goes through rigorous…actually, “insane” is probably a better word for the level of testing they put each guitar through after assembly. They set it up, plug it in, and test it thoroughly to make sure it will meet the standards of the most demanding player, then they set it up again before they ship it out. The folks at James Tyler often say that they want each guitar they build to feel like an old friend when you play it for the first time. Their commitment to balancing sweat equity with Sci-Fi engineering allows them to hit the mark every time.
We are proud to showcase our selection of James Tyler guitars. They are precisely-built instruments with a heaping helping of heart and soul, and we know their resonance and playability will inspire you to make all kinds of joyous loud noises.