The Journey: Palir Guitars

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Palir Models

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For this post of “The Journey” we ask John Palir of Palir Guitars to share a little more about his guitars and the business in general. The Journey features interviews and highlights of companies all throughout the gear industry. Look for more posts!

-Tell us a little about your company and why you started building guitars

At the end of 2009 before Palir Guitars was a full-time company I was simply looking for another hobby. Something I could do at the end of the day in my own home to de-stress after managing a local bank. I started reading article after article about making aged furniture. One day I stumbled upon an article on aging guitar parts. I was more intrigued by the process than anything. I have always needed an artistic out. Being the parts were much smaller than trying to start building furniture in the house this seemed to be an easy fit for a new hobby! Before long other guitar builders started buying my aged parts. Especially the necks! (I still complete the original aging process on the necks I found by mistake one day back in 2009. If you have played one you know what I am talking about).The new hobby turned into a small income. Around 2011 someone asked why didn’t I build full guitars? I thought that to be a logical question and started building full models. For one year I built these with no logo or name. At the beginning of 2012 we decided to start branding the guitars. Before long we had a lot of orders and I had to choose to continue my banking career or make the jump to go full-time as a guitar builder. I took a GIANT risk and left the banking world to pursue my new passion. I am glad I did and encourage others to pursue their passion as well, but keep in mind you will work more hours than you think, have a lot of failures along the way, deal with people who hate what you do, and some days you will want to give up. The key I find is to just keep plugging away as there is no substitute for hard work. No one can take hard work away from you.

-Everyone seems to have varying opinions on relic or distressed guitars. Why did you seem to gravitate towards them as a main part of your lineup?

In the beginning I never set out to build distressed guitars. It was just a hobby I enjoyed in my own home at the end of a work day. I just needed an artistic out. Once people starting buying my work I started to really focus in on that area and learn new methods and it developed into what you see today. I enjoy what I do. Will we always offer only distressed guitars? Only time will tell as the market changes. Remember the guitar designs and wild finishes from the 80’s? Proof the market does shift some over time.

-Tell us about the new Genesis model. This is the first of your original designs right? 

Palir Genesis
Palir Genesis

We named the new model “Genesis” because it is the “Beginning” of our non-traditional work. I love the traditional style, but I still need that artistic out even with all the other work we currently have going. This is a chance to keep creating and is more of a personal out than anything. I am just glad people like what we are doing and are willing to buy it. We already have several orders for this new model. We will be releasing more original models to our line up as time allows.

-How hard is it to design an original body or headstock shape without someone saying it looks like something else, or just dismisses it as “too different”?

It is very difficult to create something that does not fall within another design. I recently spoke to someone about this that has been building for 20 plus years. They said everything has already been done and we are all just using other’s designs and concepts in some way shape or form. I can not say I completely agree, but it does hold a lot of weight if you start looking around. I view it as a challenge to at least keep trying.

-What are your thoughts on the guitar industry as a whole from a builders perspective? 

Well my view has absolutely changed from when I was just playing bass and guitar. I have had the privilege to meet and talk to some of my guitar hero’s and guitar builders peers I have looked up to for a longtime. Some have inspired me to either keep playing or keep building. Some are really humble and I love getting to know those people and learn what keeps them going as well. On the other hand I have had to change my once gullible perspective of some as I go along and that is unfortunate.

-Who are some artists using your guitars?

We are adding to our list just a few times a year. You can visit the artist tab on our website for more information. I can assure you our artist are some of the most genuine people I have met and that is why I like working with them.

-What are some of the main things you’ve learned as a business owner over the course of the last year?

Number one…Never give up! Number two business is still business at the end of the day. It is true business has no emotions. I recently left most Facebook groups and Public forums to keep my eyes focused as much as possible on our production, business etc… For me it was what I had to do to stay focused on where I want to go.

-When you’re not building guitars, what do you like to spend your time on?

That’s a hard one. I guess I would say focusing on the business side of the guitar business. It is something I really love equally as much as building. Other than that spending time with my family is very important.

-How can we find out more about your company online? 

You can visit We are also on Facebook, Instagram and recently Twitter.