In a nutshell, they offer several body shapes, all in alder, and one neck carve, in maple (bolt on) but from there you can specify
Pickup and control configuration
Bridge, tuners, knobs
Figured wood top
Hollowbody or solid
...and other things I forget. Kind of like when Dad used to order a Pontiac. You had several base models and tons of customization.
Anyway, I liked the idea of supporting a young, innovative company right here in the USA making guitars for the working-class stiff. but with a lot of cool options. And a 7-day no-questions-asked money-back. I spent ages on the online configuration thing, then talked to Kevin, the owner. Because my band makes videos and works the social media, he knocked something off the price if I'd promote Moniker and play the guitar live. Endorsing artist thing.
I wanted some stuff that was not, strictly speaking, available on the online builder. Kevin was great about ordering "off the menu" so we agreed to build my "vision" of a fictional, long-lost Gibson prototype from 1960 that melded elements of a Les Paul Jr and a Supro.
Slab solid-body, no contours. Classic tobacco sunburst finish going to black on the back and neck. 3+3 Supro-style headstock. Absolutely had to have a trapeze tailpiece, because I like the harmonics and overtones they bring, plus the Sonic Youth strumming potential. Dot inlays to go with the working man's rawker vibe. I briefly considered a single pickup but I do use the neck position, so we went with two Lollar single-coil-in-humbucker-size units, with a V-T setup (and appropriately old-school knobs.) They usually have the pickup switch down low, but I wanted it up in Gibson land. Finally, went modern on the tuners, with top-end Gotoh Delta series.
Here it is. It got clobbered really hard in shipping, so the tone knob was broken and the neck shifted almost imperceptibly. Loosened and re-tightened the neck and glued the knob back together. Moniker didn't set it up very well: neck needed some relief, and then I had to lower the bridge and pickups.
How's it built? First off the finish is great. Perfect sunburst, and the clear is as smooth and mirror-like as anything I've seen at any price, and very thin to boot. No deep, gloopy Korean coating. Oddly the back of the headstock is not quite as polished, but front, back, sides and neck are all like glass.
Neck is substantial, with a little meat to each side of the E strings for bends and banging. The edges are subtly rounded, so it feels broken in immediately, The rosewood is top quality, tight and not dry or waxy. The frets are jumbo and made of stainless, and they did a great job of rounding the edges. Nut is cut right, not too low or high, doesn't stick.
These Gotohs are the dog's bollocks: dang. Smooth and beautiful , best tuners I've ever tried. The control knobs move smoothly. The bridge is a quality unit, and the only thing that seems "off" is the trapeze tailpiece. It's perfectly fine, chrome, generic steel unit. Just doesn't have the "oooooh" factor of the other hardware.
Okay, time to play. It's a little neck-heavy, but nothing a leather strap doesn't overcome. Neck feels really good, and I can get the action as low as I care to, with no fretting out of rattles. The sound? I was concerned because a maple neck bolted onto an alder body is so... well, ordinary. Like a Squire or any of a million other guitars. And the old guy in me reacts "bolt-ons are cheap" even though I KNOW Suhr will tell me otherwise and logic says a bolt-on can be a superior method. Anyway...
...it works. I think the trapeze tailpiece, the thin finish, and the Lollars add up to a lively, woody, old-school rawk sound. The guitar vibrates a lot, so I guess they get good wood and it's dry. It's not as polite as I expected a guitar with Lollars to be: it can really snarl. Middle position is freakin' sweet, really woody, and almost like an acoustic guitar clean. The bridge gets a good aggressive, more nasal sound, and the neck is not the least bit muddy but has an almost Tele neck quality.
The chunky neck, big frets, and lively sound add up to a guitar that likes to be played hard. It gives the impression of being made to play in beer-soaked bars, very substantial, medium weight, a real sneering, cigarettes and slung-low kind of vibe. I could imagine Johnny Thunders or Keith Richards digging it, and it just cries out to be used by Josh Homme. I am very satisfied: it comes closer in spirit to an early 90s Hamer P90 Special than anything I've come across.