Guest Blog: Seth Baccus
11th October 2017
In the immortal words of Mick Jagger: Please allow me to introduce myself...
My name is Seth Baccus, and I am a professional luthier. I build electric guitars to my own original designs, and have just recently celebrated 20 years in the guitar industry.
I have been an avid music lover since before I could walk and guitars are kind of the family business. My stepfather is Andy Manson, who is a world renowned acoustic guitar maker, and his brother is Hugh Manson, a world renowned electric guitar maker. Chances are you have seen their guitars on a stage somewhere in the world, in the hands of legendary bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Police, Muse and Queens of the Stone Age to mention but a few.
"I feel confident in saying the Nautilus seriously delivers".
The Early Years
I grew up surrounded by guitars and musicians, and inevitably caught the 6 string bug. At 18 years old I started to work with Hugh at Manson’s guitar shop in Exeter. My first role was pretty straightforward; make the tea, do the hoovering and don’t break anything!
I quickly became completely obsessed with guitars. There are so many interesting aspects to the guitar. There is the aesthetic, there are the practicalities of the design, how does it feel, how does it fit your body, how does it play and, of course, how does it sound?
"I had become infected with the desire for perfection".
After a few years of working in the guitar shop, I realised I had a growing sense of needing to build a guitar myself. I had some ideas about what I might be able to tweak and try to improve about some of the classic designs, and thankfully with a family of guitar makers surrounding me, I was able to get into the workshop and have a crack at it. I built my first guitar in 2004 for my girlfriend, and it was pretty decent. She gigged with it, it sounded good and it did the job, but I had become infected with the desire for perfection and knew I could do better. So I built another, and another and, well. You get the idea!
Fast-Forward Twenty Years...
So here we are, 20 years later and I am still as obsessed with guitars as I was back then.
"With my guitars I have tried to hit the sweet spot both with form and function".
As it has turned out, guitar-making is the perfect vehicle for my personality. It allows me to be myself, to express myself creatively and to release my inner OCD maniac! I am obsessed with quality. I once read a quote from Henry Ford, “Quality is doing right when no one is looking,” and I totally abide by that.
With my guitars I have tried to hit the sweet spot both with form and function. No detail is an accident. Every aspect has been carefully considered and refined.
From the wood selected, all the way down to the smallest component, I try to use absolutely the best materials throughout.
Sourcing Materials and Nautilus
When sourcing wood I also pay consideration to maintaining healthy forest management and buying my wood from sustainable sources. As we all know, this is becoming a bigger issue with some traditional resources dwindling. There is quite a strong movement happening in the luthier-made instrument world, of introducing lots of new varieties of timber into guitar making. I think it is an exciting time and will lead to some interesting tonal developments, no doubt.
"I had a very clear idea about what I wanted from a guitar when I sat down to design it".
The heart of Seth Baccus Guitars is the Nautilus design. It is the guitar I have always been looking for as a player, but never found. The single cutaway design is both modern and original, but heavily steeped in classic, timeless tradition. I had a very clear idea about what I wanted from a guitar when I sat down to design it. I learnt how to play on a Strat style guitar, but all my favourite players played LP style guitars. I tried many LPs, but they just didn’t quite cut it for me, so I decided to try and combine elements of both the classic designs in what would be my dream guitar.
The Nautilus was originally designed with a Fender style scale length, but a more Gibson like construction method. The result was exactly what I had hoped it would be, a bright, lively and responsive guitar. Full of sustain and raw power, great articulation across all the strings, clear trebles and a tight, fast bass response. I wanted something that will effortlessly sit in the mix in almost any situation. I feel confident in saying the Nautilus seriously delivers.
Working With Bare Knuckle Pickups
As standard I fit Bare Knuckle Pickups to my instruments. I think they compliment my work so well. We obviously share the same obsession with quality, and even more than that, I think the desire for a very dynamic and open sound.
I first met Tim Mills back in 2004 when I was managing Manson’s Guitar Shop. I asked him to come and see us with his new pickups I’d been hearing about and he brought a bunch of guitars with him, all fully BKP loaded. I gathered all my staff around and we tried them all through a selection of different amps.
We were unequivocally impressed. It was like chalk and cheese compared to the high end pick ups around at the time. The Bare Knuckles felt like you had taken the cotton wool out of your ears. They were so clear sounding without ever being too brash, they were very responsive to your playing style and were a bit of a revelation to us.
"[Bare Knuckle Pickups were] like chalk and cheese compared to the high end pickups around at the time. The Bare Knuckles felt like you had taken the cotton wool out of your ears".
I have used them in my builds from the first guitar I ever built up to the present day. I know the range well, I know what suits my guitars, I know what to choose depending on whether I am building a classic '59 type sounding instrument or a modern rock machine. The Bare Knuckles always hit the mark. It’s always nice to work with people who are dedicated to their craft and share the same values as you. I am currently working on a new instrument design, a new double cutaway body shape, and I already know who I’ll be talking to about what pickups I need to complete the package!
I think the future of the guitar is very bright (no pun intended!). We, as guitar players, are blessed these days with an amazing array of passionate people putting their heart and soul into designing and making instruments and all the components that go into them. I’ve been saying recently that we are living in the midst of a golden age of guitar making and it’s something I am very proud to be part of.
"Bare Knuckles always hit the mark".
After Seth wrote us this blog, we found out that the "Nautilus" has been included in the Guitar Magazine's "Gear of the Year" awards. They're featured in the "Electric Guitars over £2k" category, and it's entirely decided by public votes. It's the only BKP-loaded guitar in the category and we'd love to see Seth win, so please do vote for him! Go here to vote.