YASLA Custom Shop
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YASLA Custom Shop
Situated in Calabasas, Los Angeles, the Yamaha Artist Services (YASLA) facility is home to exciting development projects, unique custom builds and instrument modifications – and a great place for artists to drop in, start jamming and feel at home. YASLA is also the sacred space where Yamaha designer and luthier Pat Campolattano works his magic.
“YASLA is all about bringing together unparalleled artist support with research and development to make better instruments,” said Campolattano. “It doesn’t matter if it's a repair, a modification or a custom build, we are like doctors in that we work on call and we turn projects around at a really fast pace. We aren’t a production facility – we are just here to provide support to our artists, and we use the knowledge we gain to improve the guitars we develop. Everything we do here is a one-off and totally unique to each project, and we’re able to give it a level of detail and precision not usually associated with a company the size of Yamaha.”
Pat is often granted artistic freedom to infuse his own personal style into research and development projects, using his knowledge and experience in design and building to create custom adaptations of familiar Yamaha models. In the past year, the Revstar range has been a huge focus on the work benches at YASLA, both for artist requests and R&D.
“I just like to utilize interesting combinations to get new sounds and make sure the instrument feels really comfortable for the player so when they pick it up, it feels like they’ve owned the guitar for years,” said Campolattano.
Some notable recent examples include a glorious gold and cream RS720B for Royal Thunder’s Josh Weaver, and a beautiful Blue Sparkle Revstar for Michael Fish Herring featuring Lollar P90 pickups, a Suhr Doug Aldrich humbucker and Fishman Powerbridge.
The “Korina” and “Bolt-On” are a pair of unique Revstar custom models Pat built with artist feedback from the shop in mind, mixed with his own personal taste and some design curiosity.
“The Korina guitar is something I have always wanted to do,” said Campolattano. “I think Korina wood sounds amazing and the amber tinted look is super old school. As a big fan of the '59 Explorer and Flying V styles that used Korina wood, I wanted to have some of that mojo while adding my own twist with all the rosewood and tortoise parts and custom inlays. I decided on a three-pickup version of the RS502T because people always chat about it around the shop, and three-pickup set necks from the 1950s and 1960s were the most deluxe version you could get, which gives the Korina a luxury feel.”
“I also used polished hardware for a more classic look, and carved the back of the lower horn for a more comfortable access to the higher frets,” continued Campolattano. “The frets are stainless steel because they give the best feel and never wear down. The body is also about 2.5 millimetres thinner than a standard Revstar which reduces the weight a bit.”
“The Bolt-On guitar was an exercise in changing the construction of the Revstar, and still maintaining balance and feel,” concluded Campolattano. “The body is thinner than standard, and its custom contouring feels very comfortable. I balanced the guitar with a full 25.5 scale length and by doing so, I changed the point where the neck meets the body. I incorporated a three-bolt dovetail design that ensures the neck can’t move in the pocket at all. I was aiming for a Tele-esque vibe with a maple neck, but I didn’t want it to be bright white, so I used roasted maple with a half bridge. Gold foils are my favorite pickups, so I popped those in to give it the best possible tone.”
Whether repairing and modifying custom guitars for Yamaha artists, or driving innovation with fresh takes on Yamaha classics, luthier Pat Campolattano is a key member of the Yamaha Artist Services family.