James Trussart is one of the few builders who has broken the mold of traditional guitar making. Working with steel as the primary material, he produces guitars that are as unique in appearance as they are in tone.

Trussart is a musician-turned-luthier. The French native began his career as a fiddler, accompanying Cajun singer-songwriter Zachary Richard in the late '70s, before turning his attention to crafting violins and later guitars (in the 1980s). From his Los Angeles home and workshop (where he has resided since 2000), Trussart crafts custom steel-bodied guitars, basses, and violins in a dazzling array of finishes, reminiscent of shiny chrome resonator instruments and rusty, weathered, fossilized discarded machinery. The tone is so distinctive that Trussart guitars have become 'must-have' instruments in the arsenals of influential artists including Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Joe Walsh, Jack White, Charlie Sexton, Daniel Lanois, Marc Ribot, Peter Stroud (Sheryl Crow), Rich Robinson (Black Crowes), Sonny Landreth, Joe Perry, Tom Morello, Billy Corgan, The Roots, and many, many more.

“I've always liked the look and feel of old guitars, believing them to have a life beyond that of their creator, and I wanted to somehow emulate that effect of age and history on my own guitars. I wanted to make a guitar that came with a history and a slight element of neglect, of decay, so it had a personality of its own.”

Trussart's creations are designed to have the look and feel of a vintage instrument with the added appeal of metal construction. His "Rust-O-Matic" technique (a term coined by Billy Gibbons regarding Trussart's unique finishes) involves leaving the guitar body exposed to the elements for several weeks, allowing it to corrode before treating it to stop the corrosion. He then sands it to replicate years of distress, and then finishes it with a clear satin coat.

Many of the Trussart models feature patterns either engraved or literally imprinted into the metal bodies or on the pickguard or headstock. Engraved skulls, roses, and tribal art are some of the more common themes, while others feature textures of alligator skin or plant materials. He literally 'sandwiches' the metal with the alligator skin and lets it sit in water for several days.

Various pickup options are offered, but standard fare is Arcane Inc. Custom Pickups that are built specifically for the Trussart guitars and basses. Neck options offered are the classic radius and shape guaranteed to fit the most demanding player's needs.

And the sound? Former Guitar Player magazine editor and guitarist Joe Gore (Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman) summed the distinguishing tone of Trussart's Steelcaster with the following rave:

“I literally believe this guitar makes me play better. I love the combination of ultra-articulate attack and full-bodied sustain. It's almost as if one is playing through a high-quality compressor, only without sacrificing a shred of transient impact. The subtle metallic resonance - that extra midrange peachiness - telegraphs articulation details. I play predominantly with my bare fingers, and I've never before encountered an electric guitar that communicates the texture of skin, nail, and combinations therof with such breathtaking immediacy. I also find myself better able to 'shape' notes. I think that's due to a combination of the guitar's innate sustain, the perfect fretwork, the way subtle neck bends compliment finger vibrato, and the gratifying 'feedback loop' created when the metal body hums against your chest.”

Just a note to let you know we're thrashin' them blues on the FINE JAMES TRUSSART silver 6-string. It's funky. The tone is the thing...and this instrument has got some tone.

~ Billy F. Gibbons   //   ZZ Top
I have been playing Trussarts for years now. James' approach is very inspiring not only from a design standpoint, but also from how well the guitars play and how unique they sound.

~ Rich Robinson   //   The Black Crowes
The SteelDeville is the only guitar with more Mojo and more sustain than a 50's Les Paul.

~ Danny B. Harvey   //   The Head Cat and Lonesome Spurs
I literally believe this guitar makes me play better. I love the combination of ultra-articulate attack and full-bodied sustain. The subtle metallic resonance— that extra midrange peachiness—telegraphs articulation details. I think that's dueto: a combination of the guitar's innate sustain, the perfect fretwork, the way subtle neck bends complement finger vibrato, and the gratifying ‘feedback loop' created when the metal body hums against your chest.

~ Joe Gore   //   Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman
The spank and fidelity of my SteelTop with TV Jones pick-ups is like no other guitar I've owned. This guitar is a keeper for life. James' guitars are truly works of art... No two are exactly alike. So when you get one, it's "your voice" and no one can touch it.

~ Peter Stroud   //   Sheryl Crow
What I love most about my Trussart guitars is that they give me the playability and intonation of a modern instrument blended with the soul and vibe of a vintage guitar. When I need to be my best, on stage or in the studio, I reach for my Trussarts. They are as unique as the players who play them.

~ Phil Hurley   //   Stonehoney
Hey James, that chrome Steelcaster I play with Morrissey is a great looker and a great player. Many thanks

~ Boz Boorer   //   Morrissey
I also have three guitars made by James Trussart, a great French guitar builder out of Los Angeles. I discovered one of his Steeltops in Chicago last year when I was there with Ringo. I never buy new guitars, but I had to have this one. I went to see him out in LA, and we designed another one, which is basically a strat in a Les Paul style body. Then he came up with the Snakeskin Steelphonic, and that was another 'must-have.' There's a lot of soul in these instruments.

~ Billy Squier
Out of all the guitars there are to choose from these days I think James has created a guitar that's unique in style and performance, I don't think people realize just how well these guitars are made, after you get passed the looks there is a guitar that is a joy to play, it offers a new sound to add to your bag, there's Gibson, Fender and Trussart.

~ Marc Ford
Man, i am still so in love with that guitar, i can't even tell you. it's absolutely my favorite. I just co-wrote the score to the new peter jackson film with eno, and that guitar is all over it - it has the most beautiful sound.

~ Leo Abrahams   //   Brian Eno, Ed Hartcourt, Bryan Ferry, The Ministry of Sound, Marianne Faithfull/Nick Cave
James Trussart Custom Guitars
1307 Allesandro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026 USA

Telephone: 213 989 1554
Email: info@jamestrussart.com

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