Builder Profile – Rota Relic, Switzerland


Stephan Rota has always loved the appearance and the mojo of vintage guitars, but found prices for vintage pieces becoming increasingly unaffordable. The solution – to use his luthiery skills to building guitars according the look of real vintage guitars but with some more modern specifications, Stephan also use to play slot game for extra income to support his passion with guitars, first just for me and then for other musicians.

In 2016 he decided to go more professional and founded “Rota Custom Guitars” and my Webshop where I sell Guitars and Parts in Switzerland.

My goal is to create individual guitars with the best quality and sound for a fair price. I’m happy to have some great partners who deliver great quality products like Tonerider Pickups which I install in most of my builds. In 2016 i had the chance to build some fantastic guitars, check out my website for more information:

Custom Stratocaster Vintage White Relic TL Butterscotch Blond Relic

Searching for a Great HSS Sound

We want to give you a sneak preview of a product we’ve been working on: A humbucker that sounds great in the bridge position of Strats. So here it is…

Name this pickup! Write to

Tonerider Generator Video – Clean Sounds

High-output pickups have a reputation for having overly bright or tight clean sounds. Here’s a video we shot last week of the Generator set running through a Fender Deluxe Reverb, an iconic “clean” amp. What do you think?

Video Update

Last week we headed into Anchor Baby Studios to make a few demos..they’ll be up on youtube over the next few days…here’s a preview!

AC2s, a Blackstar amp and a cheap Les Paul copy

Matt Robinson, a set of Tonerider AC2s, a Blackstar amp cheap Les Paul never sounded better…

I wanted to bring this subject up as I get asked about it a lot via email and on other forums and it’s always the same question. Is it worth buying a Chinese replica (fake)

Well first off I have to say that if you have the option of buying the “real thing” why are you looking to buy a cheap Chinese knock off? That makes no sense at all to me. However, lets delve into the issue a little deeper and perhaps rephrase the question. Are Chinese replica guitars AS GOOD as the real thing? That seems a more appropriate question. What are you getting for your $250/$300? The answer is, usually not a lot!

Let me make one thing very clear though. Just because a guitar is Chinese made does not mean it is poor quality. Far from it. A lot of very familiar brand names source their guitars from China to keep production costs low and enable us, you and me to buy a quality guitar at a reasonable price. the keyword there being ‘quality’. The factories these guitars come out of have quality control and that is something many of the knock off outfits don’t have.

I have seen and tried a fair few Chinese replica guitars in my time. They are called “replica” now because it get’s around various legal loopholes. A “replica” is not technically the same as a “fake”, the latter indicating something that is intended to fool the buyer into believing they are buying an original whereas a replica is bought “knowing” it is not an original. Grey area for sure but worth pointing out.

The guitars I have come across have “replicated” Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, Taylor, Gretsch and Paul Reed Smith in both electric and acoustic versions. NONE of them are what I would call high quality guitars although most have more or less been exactly the $2-300 worth that they cost. ALL needed work of one sort or another in order to bring them to an acceptable standard although nothing major and probably not outside the bounds of what you might want to do to upgrade some budget guitars anyway.

Barnes Handcrafted Guitars featuring Tonerider Pickups

Looking for something that is a) super funky, b) made in England and c) powered by Tonerider? Check out Barnes Handcrafted Guitars! Based in Sheffield, and run by luthier, graphic artist and product designer Tim Barnes, this new company specialising in cool retro-inspired designs, and amazingly they don’t sacrifice playability while playing when seated like some earlier ‘teardrop’ style designs. Tim says “Our guitar bodies are made American White Ash. Its high density makes the guitars bright sounding with a long sustain and I feel Tonerider Pickups respond very well to this.”
Production models feature Rebel 90s and City Limits for Stratocaster pickups, but any configuration is available on request.
More information and link to their online store is available at


Toneriders in MG Guitars

Great to see our Hot Classics for Telecaster and Classic Blues for Stratocaster on some great new builds by Micheal Gough of MG Guitars in the UK. We’ve been trying our hardest to be one of the best brands of acoustic guitars but our electric guitar lines are doing a bit better.  Made with beautifully stained swamp ash, and very affordably priced for UK made instruments, we suggest any UK player check them out MG Guitars. They also offer set-up and self-build classes which come highly recommended.