R. Hyde Guitars

R. Hyde Guitars creates Bass guitars that combine visual beauty with exceptional sound and ergonomics. An alumni of the University of the Arts Industrial Design program (’13), Ryan Hyde formed his company to produce a distinct line of Bespoke Bass Guitars that fuse modern and classic design while satisfying the stringent needs of modern musicians.

Watch the R.Hyde Guitar grantee video here.

Recent Developments

Design and Production

In Year One, 2014-2015, after receiving funding from the Corzo Center, Ryan designed three different models:

  • The Soul Machine, a classically styled “working man’s bass”, and lowest priced option
  • The Zeal, designed to look fast, play fast and offer the most articulate tonality possible
  • The Nuvo, a small bass that has rich bass-heavy tonality and Retro-Future Styling

Over the past year, Ryan produced six bases, two of each model, using a 3D CAD schematic.

At the end of Year One, he received his first commission -- the buyer is a collector from Spain who has sign a contract for a custom-built Nuvo Model.

Marketing

As part of the preliminary launch, he began to develop a social media presence – 1,500 followers on instagram, 3,200 followers on Facebook, and 1,700 user likes on his business page – with a total reach of upwards of 50,000 people in recent posts.

Currently he is developing marketing materials in a variety of media – photography, film, print, and a web-based lookbooks. He is also working on a video as part of a soon- to-be-launched Kickstarter campaign. And he attended two trade shows with several more planned for the fall and winter.

Skills Learned

Over the past year, I learned to design in 3D CAD and learned to Laser-cut from acrylic. I have also learned to control guitar finishing, critical to the look of a high end guitar. And I’ve now established a design style for my guitars that distinguish them in the marketplace.

Challenges

I learned that designing and prototyping new models take much longer than anticipated. As a result, this led to a backup in video production since the models needed to be available for the video. The design took a long time because there were many processes and techniques that I had to figure out, and each model had specific challenges to overcome.

Since the guitars are customized to the user and the craftsmanship is critical, I still must learn how to speed up the production process should the volume require more products over a shorter period of time. To prepare for that, I have researched CNC (Computer Numerical Control) production and am now prepared to produce more quickly when the demand requires it.

Lessons Learned

Everything takes longer than expected and one must plan for delays. Persistence is all. I am still learning how to be a business man. The craft of the artist – taking time to get it perfect – sometimes conflicts with the realities of business, cash-flow and the market.

The ability to scale will be important since the amount of time I have available is limited and may limit my profitability when I reach the market size I envision for these guitars.

Next Steps

In Fall 2015, I will launch the Kickstarter campaign and expect to turn R.Hyde Guitars into a full time business. I shall use the remaining monies to continue develop the brand, improve my web site, and add video content.

Details

Think Forward

Boutique, bespoke, custom made; whatever you call it, Philadelphia luthier Ryan Hyde is building some of the coolest, most unique bass guitars out there. Taking his influences from Japanese, European, and American sources, he has created a lineup of basses that transcend the normal parameters. Shifting between the past and the present, and the future.

I want to take the designs I see and re-build them the ground up because today’s musicians are doing the same sort of thing. taking the classic songs they love and recombining them for the needs of the modern audience.

In the summer of 2014 I set out with the goal of creating a distinct new line of Bespoke Bass Guitars that would epitomize the fusion of modern and classic design. Instruments that would satisfy the stringent needs of modern musicians, and address design issues such as weight, balance, tonality, and reliability; while occupying a unique /original niche in the cloistered world of Custom Basses.

The basis of the project was four fold:

  • Design 3 different models that epitomize modern bass design and open up a new sector in the marketplace.
  • Develop a plan to bring my instruments to the marketplace
  • Develop reliable production methods
  • Launch a crowdsourcing campaign to transfer my business from part time to full time.

The 3 Models

  • The Soul Machine is the perfect working man’s bass. It combines the best features of many different classic basses and combines them seamlessly to create an instrument that rises above the competition. The Soul machine has a lot of vintage mojo, but you can dial in any tone you want from P-bass Grind to Tobias Growl. It is my lowest cost model and the easiest to produce. Yet it is built with all the passion and skill I have to offer. This bass caters to musicians who want a no frills instrument that can perform night after night.
  • The Zeal is the formula one car. it is the flagship in a way. The bass is built to look fast, play fast, and offer the most articulate tonality possible. The “single cut” body design inherently increases sustain and makes extremely low action possible while also offering the most stable neck design possible. Because of this it is possible for the instrument to have a very small area where the neck transitions to the body. The instrument is built to allow the player to perform at the highest level possible. This bass caters to the musician seeking the ultimate expressive tool for their creativity. I have two prototypes built so far.
  • The Nuvo was the last model to be designed and built. It is also the one which has garnered the most attention online. The bass is small but a real show stopper. A bass that fits in a guitar case, weighs less than 5 pounds and sounds every bit as deep as a full size instrument. The bass produces it’s signature tone because of the relationship of the thin body and the strings. the thin body vibrates a lot with the strings and that vibration manifests in a bass-heavy tonality that makes up for the lack of size. The Nuvo also sports one of the most interesting designs to be found in the bass world. It’s been referred to as “future - retro” and “the Jetson Bass”. Overwhelmingly, people love it.

Custom Configurations

Each model can then be ordered in 2 different configurations. Options offered are specific to the configuration to work best with the design.

For example, The Zeal Can be ordered with a fancy figured wood top and a contrasting accent stripe. With my guidance The customer can choose what wood combinations they want. The fancy wooden top necessitates a clear finish to be used and the bass is carved in a specific way to highlight the top and accent line.

Conversely, you could order the zeal with a solid color and a more aerodynamically carved body that highlights the form of the bass. The basic form is the same, yet simple changes yield radically different results that cater to a wide range of players. I also offer unique pickup covers that can be customized at an upcharge.

Production

Production of Four Prototypical Basses

Over the past year I have designed, refined, built and rebuilt 4 Basses with 2 more coming out of production by end of July. These do not include The prototypes I showed during the initial grant presentation. The 4 basses represent the 3 different lines I currently offer and show a variety of different options and configurations.

Skills Learned

  • Production method: The basic schematic for the instrument is designed in 3D CAD software. the schematic is then developed into a 3 dimensional model that accurately represents how the instrument will look in real life. From this model, a new set of schematics is created and reduced to separate 2D patterns. These patterns are templates that will be Laser- cut from acrylic to make guides that will help me easily build the guitar in real life just as I have designed it in the computer. I have also researched CNC production and am fully prepared to move to a new type of production should orders surpass my current methods.
  • Guitar finishing: the process of applying coats of protective paint. This is a critical step in the process of a guitar. The finish of a guitar can make or break it’s appeal to a customer, especially in the high end community where quality is a huge factor for buyers. For this end I teamed up with Jim Cara of Cara Kustom Guitars. Jim is a master finisher and helped me develop a dependable method of obtaining perfect results.
  • Cohesive design: My work is known for being very unique and very well done. I have spent most of my time creating designs that are timeless, highly functional, and break the mold. I take what I see in the marketplace and try to create an instrument which draws upon it’s influences, to present the customer with an instrument that idealizes it’s respective genre.

Marketing Accomplishments

Develop a Following

I have connected to people on multiple platform by releasing images and videos of the construction process of all prototypes. This will give me a chance to gauge what types of content work (or don’t work) and improve my company “feed” or regular news/update. To date I have almost 1500 followers on instagram, 3,200 followers on facebook , and 1,700 users “Like” my business page. A recent post reached 50,000 people in just 3 days.

Develop Marketing Materials

Using various media – i.e., Photography, Film, Print and Web based Lookbooks, Website. I have worked with Videographer Brint Duncan to produce a 3 minute promotional video that will be geared towards my crowd sourcing campaign. We have enough footage to create auxiliary content as well, e.g., follow up videos, 1 minute “Demo” videos, interviews and “how it’s done” video’s. These can be posted as teasers to raise awareness about the Kickstarter campaign.

Create a Crowdsourcing Campaign

To officially launch my brand and begin my marketing campaign. So far my work on the campaign has been getting the video produced and developing the online following that will be the basis of my reach. The campaign will be a period of time where interested parties can buy either the existing prototypes, or commission my work at a special low rate, I will also be offering a special run of “after market” necks, Specifically to retrofit onto Fender basses and guitars.

Trade Shows

Attending trade shows has been a good way to be introduced to different people in the industry who can be helpful/ influential. They are also a great way to be associated with other more established brands and give the public a chance to try your instruments out in real life. I have attended two trade shows so far and have plans to attend the annual NAMM show in November.

Crowdsourcing Campaign

The purpose of the crowd sourcing campaign is to officially launch my brand and begin my marketing campaign. So far my work on the campaign has been getting the video produced and developing the online following that will be the basis of my reach. The campaign will be a period of time where interested parties can buy either the existing prototypes, or commission my work at a special low rate, I will also be offering a special run of “after market” necks, Specifically to retrofit onto Fender basses and guitars.

The Kickstarter campaign hasn’t started yet mainly because of the above Challenges. In general I would say I’m 2 months behind schedule. Whereas I had wanted to launch the campaign july 1st,, I am actually in the editing stages of the Video for the campaign, and still planning the details with an august release date. My goal is to use the campaign to generate enough funds to get to a NAMM show. where I can show my work to the and generate some real recognition.

Production Challenges

My goal for the grant was to build 6 instruments that would outline each Model and it’s different configurations. of those 6 planned I have completed 4 with 2 in the final stages of production.

What I learned was that designing and prototyping each would take much longer than anticipated, this lead to a back up in video production because I felt it necessary to wait until every model could be represented in the video. I do believe that the video and the message it carries are much stronger for having each instrument present.

The prototypes took a long time to produce because there were many processes and techniques that i had to figure out and master in order to complete the instruments as planned. Each model represents a different type or class of bass guitar, and each model had specific challenges to overcome in order to realize them as fully as possible.

In addition each model was refined after being built. The White Zeal Model is the predecessor to the Orange Zeal which has many refinements. The same goes for the Soul Machine which was built and revised 3 times. The Nuvo model has only been built once, but the next one will have refinements as well.

Future Plans

My plan is to go ahead with launching the campaign and turning my business into a full time endeavor. Of the $3,000 left I would Like to spend another $1,500 on the professional development of my brand. Including Web and graphic design, plus more video content. I want to reserve the other $1,500 for advertising the Kickstarter campaign and beyond. I’ll be finishing the last 2 basses by July’s end in time to get all 6 photographed and filmed in a studio. I would like to launch the campaign in late august.