Alt-rock vets Sandwich and D&D Custom Guitars officially launched their new line of signature instruments. The collection was unveiled in Nova Gallery last Saturday where guitarists tried out guitars designed by Raimund Marasigan, Diego Castillo, and Miguel “Mong” Alcaraz.

L-r: the Diego Castillo Dayglo, the Miguel Alcaraz T. Rex, and the Raimund Marasigan Raygun

D&D Custom Guitars has produced signature models from Paul Yap and Carlos Tañada of UDD, Gab Chee Kee and Darius Semaña of Parokya Ni Edgar, Razorback’s Manuel Legarda (who was one of the first endorsers), and Barbie Almalbis.

The bespoke Sandwich originals designed by the three guitarists– and eventually crafted by Elegee’s Jon De La Cruz with high-end components– were announced almost a year ago but the production-line versions are now available to the general public.

Blueprints of the three axes

Daren Lim– one of the “D’s” behind the company, the other being ace guitarist Dan Crisologo– says the China-manufactured six-strings were created to be affordable yet highly playable and customisable. “We would love it if people look at them as their first (electric) guitars before they move on to, say, PRS or Fender or all those giant brands.” Mong Alcaraz agrees, “As with anything in life, really, you never forget your first. And you kind of base what follows after on that ‘first.'”

Autotelic’s Josh Villena trying out Castillo’s Dayglo model

The production-line Sandwich guitars took a year to get right; Alcaraz openly stated that the first few units “were not very good.” The guitar company and the band made the necessary tweaks until everything was right and the results speak for themselves: the three guitarists played off-the-rack models during their short set on launch day.

Marasigan playing his Raygun while Castillo and Alcaraz try each other’s designs.

The guitars share a few features: basswood bodies (this particular tone wood is light and midrange-friendly) and Fender-inspired silhouettes. Each however has specific details that reveal each guitarist’s specific needs:

Raimund’s Raygun

The plug-in-and-go-rock-it Raygun features a Jazzmaster silhouette, a single humbucking pickup, and lone volume knob. The set neck, three-per-side headstock, and bridge were inspired by a Gibson Melody Maker, one of Marasigan’s favourite guitars. Set-neck guitars normally produce better natural sustain.

Diego’s Dayglo

The Dayglo also has the Jazzmaster shape, with a Telecaster-type bridge/pickup assembly and control plate, bolt-on neck, and six-in-line headstock (bolt-on necks help produce snappier tones). The neck pickup however is a P-90. Castillo says the neck dimensions on his model were copied off one of his first and still-favourite guitars: a Japanese copy of a Telecaster.

Mong’s T. Rex

The T. Rex is the quirkiest of the three with its semi-hollow Telecaster Custom/Deluxe-inspired layout (and a lightning-shaped f-hole, or is that an s-hole, then?), lipstick neck pickup, Bigsby-style vibrato bridge, and a six-in-line headstock inspired by Gibson’s Firebird. The lipstick pickup is bright and glassy while the bridge humbucker is warm and aggressive; Alcaraz says he needs a guitar that he can also use for his other band Chicosci. He added an extra turn for the vibrato’s spring and the result is a bouncier unit that can actually dive-bomb better than normal Bigsby-type bridges (the low E can go down over an octave).

Castillo, Marasigan, and Alcaraz hope the affordable versions of the custom instruments inspire kids to play guitar, a sentiment D&D founder Daren Lim also shares

Myrene Academia ‘s signature bass is reportedly still in the development stages.

The Sandwich logo is another custom feature

It remains to be seen if the company will produce the three guitars with the original high-end components that Marasigan, Castillo, and Alcaraz use on their prototypes; no doubt however, they will be relatively expensive.

“Just the tele-style bridge pickup I use for the original Dayglo alone was ordered from (boutique US pickup/parts specialist) Lindy Fralin; we had to wait a few months for it and it costs as much as the (production-line) guitar itself,” Diego clarifies before strapping on a “normal” Dayglo (he also has a production-line Raygun and T. Rex himself).

Like Lim, he is realistic and pragmatic. “We want to keep the price point low for everybody. We want to inspire kids to pick up the guitar. But if they can’t afford it, what’s the point?”

Check out the exclusive interview below where Diego Castillo and Mong Alcaraz talk about the development of their guitars.