Martin Sims

Pinstriping & Kustom Graphics Magazine|February - March 2020

Martin Sims
Long-time readers will know we’ve had our eyes on Sims Guitars for a while – we interviewed their artist Andy Fleet way back in Issue 2! We thought it was long past time for a catchup, so we chatted with Martin Sims…
Grace Davis

CAN YOU TELL US HOW YOU GOT STARTED BY RETROFITTING LEDS TO GUITAR NECKS?

In the late 80s, lighting shows at rock concerts were becoming huge and guitarists, whether they confess it or not, use the dots on the guitar a lot – you can see roughly where you are using those markers because they’re always set in the same places on all guitars. When you’ve got a lot of lighting going on, you can’t see the dots. We started putting LEDs in there and people loved them!

WITH EVERYTHING YOU DO, IT STILL SEEMS YOU TAKE VERY SERIOUSLY THE NEED TO NOT IMPACT THE GUITAR’S PLAY AND FEEL. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT?

In order to fit LEDs into a neck normally, you would have to do it during the manufacturing process, before the fingerboard is glued on. The problem was that if they broke you would probably have to make a new neck. Also if you’re gonna peel the fingerboard offa guitar’s neck and then glue it back on, the thing will never, ever feel the same again. I worked out a way to retro-fit them, making them serviceable, non-intrusive, with no change to the feel of the guitar. My background has always been in research and development, and I’ve always gravitated towards working out ways of getting things done.

YOU WORKING LIFE STARTED IN POWER BOATS AND FORMULA 1, WERE THERE THINGS FROM THOSE AREAS THAT YOU BROUGHT ACROSS INTO THE GUITAR INDUSTRY?

Very much! I started in power boats when I left school, it was my dad’s business. There was a lot of experimental design involved and I’ve always found that I’m able to work well with that because I grew up with dyslexia. There was no help for dyslexics back then so I had to work out my own way in order to get by in a world that dyslexics didn’t fit in well to.

Although I saw it as a curse in my younger years, because I didn’t know why I couldn’t do the things that other people could, I became able to do things that they couldn’t. R&D is basically just trying to get closer and closer to your target through trial and error, so it gave me an advantage to be able to view things from a different angle.

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February - March 2020