Last year we introduced the Kauffmann Cozy. It was our first all original model. We are happy to say that the Cozy is doing well. We are nearing Cozy build number 150 and we will make that a special one. But of course, it was not all smooth sailing in this project. So today we share our experiences with the Cozy. How we introduced it, what went right and what went wrong and who helped us out to get the Cozy on track.
The pitfall for any new electric guitar
Introducing new guitar models is notoriously difficult. And that is because as guitarist we are very conservative. Of course, I am speaking in general terms here. I know that every single one of you is looking for something new in a guitar. At least that is what you keep telling us when you are in our store. And yet most people walk out the store with a guitar they are very familiar with. Because when they played that particular guitar ‘it felt like coming home’.
So when introducing a new model, us builders are torn between the creative need to come up with something new and fresh, something that will interest guitarists and the commercial reality that if we come up with something truly innovative very few people will buy it. Just take a look at the hard times Gibson and Fender are having trying to introduce new models. Time and time again they rely on their vintage models and find ways of marketing those in a new and inspiring way. In designing the Cozy our mission became to create a “new old” guitar. And together with Eric Smit of Smitty Custom Guitars we designed and build the first prototypes of the Cozy.
The Cozy in short
The shortest way to describe the Cozy guitar would be to say it has one basic design, it comes in five different versions, and it brings you endless possibilities. All versions share the same offset body shape and 25,5 scale neck. The variations between the versions are in the bridge and pickup configurations.
The Cozy is a modern and very playable guitar with a serious vintage vibe. You can trace its design elements all the way back to 1960’s. Because of the endless nitro color combinations and various aging levels, each Cozy is a unique instrument. Its appearance will certainly remind you of an old guitar.
But the most dominant fact of the Cozy is its extreem playability and snug feel. This guitars belongs on your lap or around your neck. It is light, resonant and it feels awesome.
Our journey with Cozy
Like most successful ideas Cozy started when we are having a few beers. ‘Let’s make a new guitar.’ Have another beer. ‘Let’s definitely make a new guitar’. More beer. ‘Let’s do it and sell shitloads of them’. More beer. ‘We are going to become so rich! Spoiler alert; we didn’t. But we are still happy building and selling our Cozy. So, what happened in the last year?
A lot of fun and much too complicated
We thought that all we would need was a good design and a good story to go with that design. As we already knew how to build good guitars. So the design and the story were top of mind. And we had a lot of fun with Story of Cozy as we made it all up, from its imaginary designer back in the sixties, the first famous players, how we lost the first three guitars, to our journey and quest to find the last surviving prototype.It was all made up, but it made a great story.
On the design side we got help from Eric Smit who helped us with the 3D design and made the project CNC ready. And soon the first prototype was a fact. But the reality of the entire process was far more complex. Our ambition made us create a guitar that would be available in five versions.
We found out later that each version required a bit of tweaking to do it right. For example, on the Cozy JM TM we had to create a different neck angle to get enough pressure on the bridge. So that requires a slightly different neck cavity in the body. Now this sound like a just small thing. But all these kind of small changes between the versions made it a massively complicated project. And because of all the options we offered it soon became too complicated and we had to scale it down somewhat.
The versions that made it
We were stuck with too many options. Fortunately, our customers helped make the decision how to simplify. As some versions became very popular while others not so much. The most popular versions are the JM with two P90’s, the TE and the TM. An unexpected version arose when Frans van Dommelen from Guitarking called and said that he had an idea for a Cozy guitar in TV yellow. That lead us to adopt our CB model and create something that has a 335 look and feel to it. We added two humbuckers, a binding on the top of the body and produced it in TV Yellow and Cherry Red. And guitarist liked it!
Cozy in the guitar magazines
We never thought of sending the Cozy off to have it reviewed by professional reviewers. It is not that we were afraid of what they might think, it just never occurred to us. We were just to busy building and selling it. Until Tim Lobley of Cream T pickups called and said that he thought it would be a good idea to have the Cozy reviewed in the UK Guitarist Magazine. And he had already arranged for that to happen. When the draft came in we were a bit nervous. In fact we did not read it for two days. I knew it was a good guitar but the thought that someone as influential as Dave Burrluck might disagree with us was kinda scary. Once we found the courage to read and it and we received a whopping 9/10 on both of our guitars.
Originality of the design but above all the comfort and playability of the guitar scored big points. We received some critique on the finish of the guitar, it was described as rural. Which it is because we do not use grain filler but let the natural grain of the paulownia wood be visible under the finish. We think it is part of the visual attractiveness of the guitar. German guitar magazines also showed interest and produced reviews and articles. Sometimes initiated by our german dealers. Such as Jochen Brown from J’s Guitar Shop and the good folks from BTM-guitars. Other good reviews came from the Guitarist in the Netherlands and they even placed us on the front cover! Because they thought a good original guitar build in the Netherlands deserved that attention. Thank you, sir. Very generous of them!
Is the Cozy a love it or hate it thing?
How is the Cozy perceived by guitarist? There is of course a group of guitarists that do not like the design. They look at it and say ‘not my thing’. Too modern, too old, to aged, to big, you name it. And I can understand that. When Dennis Fano introduced the Novo Serus, it took me weeks to learn to appreciate the design and eventually fall in love with it. And there is an equally large group that is attracked to the design and will pick it up. And that is all we need!.
Quick sidestep, many people have made comparisons between the Kauffmann Cozy and the Novo Serus. And they are right. The Novo Serus was a big part of our inspiration for the Cozy. The big offset body shape and the multiple bridge-pickup configurations definitely came from Novo. At the same time the Cozy is different in many ways. It is smaller and lighter than the Serus, its body is less offset and the Cozy body contours are much more pronounced.
Play it then judge it
We always try to put the Cozy in everybody’s hand. Because the difference is in the feel of the guitar. And even the guitarist that do not like the design at first, very often admit that it is a very comfortable guitar. On the other hand, a large group of guitarists look at the guitar and are intrigued by it and will pick it up. They seem to recognise that this is in fact a guitar that is new enough to be interesting and old enough to be familiar. A lot of guitarists find it hard to put down because it is such a joy to play. This gets them inspired and some will order ‘their’ version of the Cozy.
And then we have the small group of believers that fall in love instantly and have blind faith in what we were trying to do. Most inspiring was the encounter we had with Coen Bults of TFOA.
We showed him the design drawings and he said, ‘if you will do one in three tone sunburst sparkle I will order four’. And he did. That was a great confidence booster for us at an early stage in the project.
What is next for Cozy?
We have always said to ourselves that success for a guitar model comes in small steps. It takes guitarist who fall in love, play the guitar, and convince others to have a look. For us the project would have been successful if we succeeded in building the thing in the first place. After we accomplished that we made it our ambition to sell the first eleven Cozy’s that we build. Then we said that success would be defined as one hundred Cozy’s build and sold.
Now that all seems less relevant to us. Building a quality guitar, seeing how it is appreciated by our customers is very gratifying. As is the help that we received from so many people. From giving us technical tips, to honest feedback, to introducing us to people who could help us, to finally all the people that bought a Cozy guitar and play it. Be it professionally or just for their own enjoyment. We will be happy and so would Cozy if we can just continue on that path. So next for Cozy will be build number 150 and then we will take it from there.