The LeMans is the result of several different desires:
1) To have a simple, straight-forward guitar in the lineup, like a junior, but of a higher build quality than what is commonly available. I’ve wanted to do that for years.
2) I have also wanted for some time to build a ‘thin’ guitar, simply because of how great they sound. I think of it as the ‘Live at Leeds’ factor. If you’ve ever played a SG special through a Hi-Watt then you know what I’m talking about, the guitar resonates VERY strongly. It’s even better with a single pickup because the neck joint can be made stronger and the transference between neck and body is increased. You can feel it in your hands and against your body, the mahogany resonating like a soundboard, creating a responsiveness that just ISN”T there on lots of thicker, laminated guitars. For me personally, this is my favorite rock sound. It’s aggressive, punchy, and somehow very ‘natural’ sounding. Angus Young’s guitar sound is another great example of this.. it sounds like a GUITAR, not a buzzsaw, and it’s not all compressed and small sounding either. It breathes, and the responsiveness is very sharp, snappy, and articulated. Thin mahogany guitars are also deliciously lightweight!
3) I wanted to make something that was totally bullet-proof electronically. In my repair business I’ve seen lot’s of guitars that suffered from on-the-spot emergency repairs, and they’re usually done in an attempt to fix something simple, like a jack for instance, or a switch. So I intentionally dumped everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary, and put the necessary parts in a VERY accessible place. (All hail Leo on this one folks, from a repair standpoint the metal control plate is simply unbeatable) In addition, having so few electronic components so close to each other reduces cable length, which reduces capacitance, which makes the LeMans a VERY sensitive, responsive, and CLEAR sounding instrument from an electronic perspective, with plenty of high end at lower volumes, and much better shielded.
4) It was time to change my headstock from a 4x2 to a 6-in-line. Luckily I was able to use the same shape, tilted treble-side a bit, and I’m extremely happy with the result both aesthetically and functionally. The LeMans has amazing tuning stability, and I think the look is particularly vicious as well.
I had all of these ideas in my head before I met Dimitri Coats from the Burning Brides, but watching him play live inspired me to make the LeMans more than anything else. I had seen his Univox guitars in my shop, with the switch taped down in the treble position and the whole thing covered in dried sweat & blood splatter, and I was intrigued. Then he burned me a copy of the record they’d just finished recording, Hang Love, and I REALLY liked it, even more as I kept listening. (lots of people give you copies of their CD’s, and I always listen, but it usually goes in one ear and out the other or just really isn’t my thing) When I finally saw the Brides live I knew those songs pretty well and it was absolutely STUNNING watching Dimitri do his thing. I was floored.
From a guitar perspective, Dimitri Coats plays a lot like Pete Townshend. He attacks the guitar very aggressively, mostly rhythmic playing, and gets a HUGE sound out of a very thin, essentially single-pickup guitar. He just goes out there and plays, and plays hard, the whole time either screaming his fucking head off or flying across the stage.. it’s really something to behold. So I decided I wanted to make him a guitar. A guitar that would do only one thing, essentially, but do it extremely well and be completely reliable night after night after night, & look just a BIT evil at the same time.