Glitoris - making the Glitterbomb Guitar

Riot-grrrl inspired Australian punk band Glitoris have collaborated with Vance Custom Guitars on a stunning instrument called the Glitterbomb. We asked guitarist and singer Samantha Bennett aka Andrew, all about it.



Glitoris & Glitterbomb Guitar - pic Martin Ollman

Custom Guitar building

How did you get to have a custom guitar built

It happened out of the blue. Totally unexpected. Glitoris toured The Disgrace EP late in 2016 and after a hectic show in Melbourne my guitar (a Fender Bullet) got damaged. When I got home I called around trying to find a guitar tech and the only name people gave me was Rusty Vance, so I took it to him to be repaired.

He did a great job on it and when I went to pick it up he started asking me about the band, about our music, about my guitar and wanted to see Glitoris live. We were about to play our homecoming show at ANU Bar that weekend so he came to see us and then said he wanted to endorse me and make a guitar for me, so it went from there. It’s been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and it’s been an incredible 6 months going on this ultimate guitar journey!

What did you want from it that you couldn’t get in other guitars

My sound. My own identity. Keven plays rhythm guitar in Glitoris and her sound is gorgeous, really warm and full of low mids and a, ahem, nice and rounded bottom end. My sound is the opposite - it’s abrasive and sharp, designed to cut through all that and sit on top of the rest of the band. I’ve played the Bullet for a long time - it’s actually a very basic, no frills guitar, but the neck is perfect for me, so I never bothered playing anything else. The issue was that it’s two single coils, which doesn’t pack the punch a band like Glitoris needs, so it was always on the edge of brittleness, which was my biggest challenge.

Glitterbomb Guitar

Design for female guitar players

Tell us about the design process

Rusty and I sat down and talked about guitars generally. The main aspect of the guitar that could not really change was the neck, so we did a lot of measurements of the Bullet and started there. One thing that’s always pissed me off about guitars is how they are 100% designed for men. I practice and rehearse sitting down and there’s this dimension - the point between your thigh/torso and chest where the guitar sits. My Bullet and Jaguar always crushes my right tit, so we worked on a more scooped out cutaway and a smoother, more angled cut out at the back of the guitar.

Now I can play without the guitar digging in, so that is a very specific feature, purposely designed for women players. You won’t find another guitar with that detail. Then we worked on the weight. My stage persona ‘Andrew’ is pretty nuts and throws the guitar around a lot, it’s up on the shoulder, behind my head, gets dragged along the floor, so it had to be light and somehow Rusty managed to weigh it in lighter than my Bullet, which was amazing!

We then worked on the sound, which was vital. The pickups are a DiMarzio Chopper on the neck and a Bareknuckles Painkiller on the bridge. The Chopper is iconic and has this fat and punchy sound, which is great for all the really heavy stuff in the Glitoris set. The Painkiller is totally ‘Andrew’ and is abrasive and cutting - that’s the one I use most often for the trademark ‘ner ner ner ner ner’ sound. So we worked on that for a long time. The design and build process took months, but that’s what it takes to design and build the perfect guitar. I still can’t quite believe it.

Glitoris Andrew & Glitterbomb Guitar

Glitoris neck inlay

Did your ideas change along the way

No. I knew exactly what I wanted and so did Rusty. It was just a case of working on it until it was right. Rusty is an amazing guy to work with. He’s an exceptional creative and a brilliant guitar luthier. He’s made an amazing, unique guitar that is a true game changer for female and small-frame players. None of this pink heart-shaped or flower-shaped guitar in the corner of the music shop window bullshit. A powerful, massive sounding beast of guitar that, dimension-wise, is perfect for women players.

What are you favourite features

Where do I start?! The overall look of it is amazing. It’s bright green glitter, so it stands out a mile! It’s got a cartoonish character to it, which I wanted because all our stage personas are like cartoon superheroes. The press have compared us to bands like Rage Against The Machine, but also to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and that’s exactly the aesthetic. Another favourite feature is the glow-in-the-dark inlays - the Glitoris symbol */ is inlayed on the 5th fret and my initials on the 12th. That just tops it off!

Glitterbomb Guitar

How did you arrive at the name

I called it ‘The Glitterbomb’ because that’s exactly what it is: a sparkly, party-looking guitar that once plugged in sounds like a bomb going off! The first rehearsal I had with it I wrote a song for it - Theme From Glitterbomb - this 50-second power-pop number that just shows off the fatness and crunch of the guitar. That will go on the next record.

What’s it like to play

Brilliant! It took a while to get used to. When you’ve been playing one guitar for so long, then suddenly change to something else it feels alien. We supported Frenzal Rhomb a couple of months back and that was the first gig and the Glitterbomb was just out of control. I was all over the place with it - it felt like it wanted to play itself. It was like taking a screaming baby on stage and spending 40 minutes trying to shut it up! The issue was not the guitar or my playing, but that the pick ups were so much hotter than my Bullet and I hadn’t properly reset all my pedals, so I hadn’t nailed down all my combinations. I completely underestimated the pickups and the power of the guitar. After the gig, I went back to the drawing board and went through every single guitar line of every single song, got the pickup, pedal and amp setting combination sorted out. By the next gig, it was totally under control and played like a dream. The fretboard is like silk and I’m completely at one with it now!

What kind of response have you had to the instrument

It’s been great. Everyone loves it! Especially the band and other musicians.

Where can people see you playing live with it

At Glitoris shows. We’re busy writing at the moment and we’re recording an album later in the year. Before we go out on a headline tour, we’re going out on a support slot with a legendary punk band in late September/October time, so look out for that!

It’s been a dream come true. It’s every musician’s dream to have an instrument made for them personally and I still can’t believe it. Rusty has made an exceptional guitar and I’d encourage all guitarists to check out the website:

• The Glitterbomb is available with a variety of custom options including metallic finishes.