The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: TTK interviews Jim Lewis of Strictly 7 Guitars

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: TTK interviews Jim Lewis of Strictly 7 Guitars

By Marc Johnson for

At The Tone King, we always keep our ears to the ground for new talent. Although we love the veterans, we want to see what the new talent has in store for us. One company that you will soon be hearing a lot about is Strictly 7 Guitars. Initially building only seven-string guitars, Strictly 7 founder Jim Lewis has since expanded his business to include six and eight-string guitars. In 2010, Jim intends to expand his company further by offering basses as well. Recently, had a chance to have a sit down with Jim Lewis to discuss Strictly 7 and where he plans to take it from here.

TTK: What prompted you to start Strictly 7 Guitars?

Jim Lewis: My desire to start Strictly 7 came from my personal band experiences with guitarists who were using Pacific Rim built guitars that wouldn’t stay in tune, needed fret work or set-ups or new pick-ups as soon as you grabbed them off the shelf.  So, I figured I should be able to build a guitar in the United States that didn’t cost a small fortune and would maintain reliable tuning stability while providing a high quality, a tour worthy instrument for all level of players.

TTK: Are there any guitar manufacturers that were a particular inspiration for you?

Jim: I’d say Paul Reed Smith. He started out small, going to gigs with his wares and trying to get players to check them out. Now look at him! That’s my goal, to be the PRS of the seven and eight-string world. There are many builders out there, but PRS and Tom Anderson are amazing. Bernie Rico Jr. is amazing as well. I like his unique shapes.

TTK: Your guitars are made to order. What options for customization are available to the customer?

Jim: I offer all the major components as far as electronics and hardware. People can choose EMG, Duncan, DiMarzio, Bareknuckes, etc. for any of the shapes that I offer and in any configuration. I am also starting neck-thru designs and will be offering basses this year, too. 

TTK: How about the wood and inlay work?

Jim: There are really no limitations for the customer with regard to wood choices. Basically, if I can find the tone woods people want and the electronics, I’m willing to build that for the customer. As far as inlays, I can do Gibson-style blocks, offset or regular dots, and I’m even doing crosses for one of my customers.

TTK: How do you build your guitars?

Jim: In order to make sure I could reproduce the same quality in each instrument, I decided to go the CNC avenue…like all the main “players” in the guitar building world. One of the great people I found, Dave, does the drawing for me. He takes my scribbles from napkins and makes 3-D models for me to manipulate.

TTK: Seven-string seems to be a mainstay of a lot of metal guys, are you trying to reach other genres as well?

Jim: The main market for seven-string is, of course, the metal guys. That is why I have the extreme shapes like the Venom, Strictor, and Curran Murphy of Shatter Messiah’s signature model, the Messiah. And, this year at NAMM, I unveiled more traditional super-strat style model, the Cobra. The Cobra is for metal guys who don’t want a “pointy” axe. But, I also offer the Boa and the Rattler, which are for more traditional guys and Jazz players. I try to offer a variety of different guitars for different genres.

TTK: Strictly 7 also offers a line of pedals. How did that come about?

Jim: The pedals started as a necessity for our endorsee, Curran Murphy of Shatter Messiah (formerly Nevermore and Annihilator). Curran has his own recording studio where he produces/engineers records for other bands. Many of the bands don’t have the tone to make a bitchin’ CD, so he started making pedals. Curran’s pedals are a Strictly 7 exclusive.

TTK: A lot of pedals can sound muddy when you plug a seven-string into them. How do Curran’s pedals hold up?

Jim: The pedals are specifically designed to work with the voicing of the low B string and help clarify the mids of the guitar while not compressing the other frequencies. Curran is an electronics nut! He has done a great job with this aspect of the research and development, and we’re very happy with it. He even uses the pedals in his own live rig.

TTK: How does someone order a guitar from Strictly 7?

Jim: On my website,, there is a custom order form that allows people to seek a quote on their dream guitar specs. We are also starting to reach out to dealers in Canada and will soon have dealers in the U.S. as well. We have a motto, “If you can dream it, we can build it!” So, if anyone has a dream guitar, we can make that dream come true.

Visit Strictly 7 guitars by clicking here.

NAMM 2010, TTK meets Strictly 7 & Shatter Messiah for the 1st time!

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Filed Under: FeaturedReviewsInterviewsGuitars

About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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