About US

How RMI works and how to work with us


Introducing RMI

Introduction

Mark Ramsay, RMI founder and bass creator.

We are Ramsay Musical instruments - a small, but determined manufacturer based in London UK, offering a broad range of quality basses (and the occasional guitar) for the contemporary market.   Our bespoke, budget-friendly instruments all feature innovative designs and specialized features for the technical and functional musician.

We strive for excellence - passionate about challenging convention and pushing the envelope of style, function, ergonomics and economics.   Whether 'less is more' or 'standard' is not enough, we have a quality custom instrument within your reach.

We are musicians – artists.  For the love of art, all things bass, music, technology, craftsmanship and friendship, we value a sense of global musical community and the privilege of sharing music and ideas together.   Goodwill and integrity are the bedrock of our ethos.

Reputation is everything.  Satisfied customers who value our work and benefit from it are our top priority.   Owning an RMI instrument should afford you the freedom to express your music in a more tangible and meaningful way.

Overview

Ramsay Musical Instruments is a small business based in London, UK, specialising in the design and manufacture of custom electric bass guitars.  Since our launch at the 2013 Musikmesse exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, we’ve produced hundreds of unique instruments for customers and friends around the globe – UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, Ukraine, Poland, Cameroon and South Africa.  

We’re honoured to have collaborated with some of the most influential virtuoso bassists on the scene who have brought their wealth of experience and imagination into our designs.    We’re also constantly challenged and inspired by the increasingly inventive ideas and requirements of our customers.  Evolution cannot happen in a vacuum, so we embrace each opportunity with diligence and enthusiasm.

All builds are designed and coordinated by RMI founder Mark Ramsay.  The physical manufacturing is currently undertaken for us by a Korean-owned Southeast Asian factory using advanced CNC milling and high-pressure lacquering technologies.  The facility, under the direction of a Korean master luthier, boasts an average output of around 200 guitars daily - producing mainly for big brand OEM accounts in the US, UK, Korea and Japan.  Given the complexity of our builds, we typically receive only 3-4 airfreight consignments per year, which are then set up and prepared by us and our service partners in the UK, ready for dispatch.  

Philosophy

In a nutshell:  elegant simplicity, serving the necessary balance between sound, playability and aesthetic appeal for an individual artist, at a reasonable price.  It’s important to challenge convention and innovate with ‘out of the box’ ideas – honouring and enabling creative freedom, without compromise.  However, a healthy perspective of pragmatism and affordability must be maintained.  

We aim to create a broad range of versatile, playable instruments with a clear and personal artistic statement – something to suit the needs and image of any serious bassist.  

Regardless of status or ability, every customer’s needs are considered of equal importance and we do our best to achieve the right solution for individual needs in an interactive, consultative and friendly environment.  

You are the music and what you play on doesn’t necessarily make you a better musician.  Nothing can sidestep hard work and experience.  Ultimately, a guitar serves a practical purpose as a tool for self-expression and making music.  We’re not into discriminating or favouring where an instrument is produced so long as the product is worthy of the price and the player.  We don’t make furniture, sculptures or vintage relics – it’s not our priority or area of expertise, but you can count on a superb, playable, instrument from us!

Why RMI?

Simply put, we get the job done at a reasonable price to put high-end features and quality within your reach, and to indulge your imagination in the creative process.  It’s rewarding to see your ideas and expectations come to life in just a few months.   Seeing those intial drawings within a matter of days really does help to inspire confidence in the design as a tangible reality, where you can more clearly visualise the end result.

Introduction

Igor Saavedra's Octavius 4th Generation headless 8 string.

Our instruments are built from a modest range of industry tone woods and crafted to reputable Korean manufacturing standards.  Although we might seem comparably limited in offering the more exotic wood choices or finishes of a traditional luthier building by hand, the sound and ergonomics of an RMI guitar will comfortably rival boutique instruments costing significantly more money.  The colour possibilities are vast, coupled with an extensive range of models to choose from to help you budget and get started with the project.  

Technical details such as string count, scale, string spacing, fret count, construction, dimensions, electronics, dynamic response, desired tone and target weight are all comfortably within our remit of expertise.  Don’t be shy to share your ambitious – even seemingly crazy ideas with us.  It might just be possible to achieve your dream build.  No shame in asking.  We work with some of the best hardware and electronics builders in the business to supply best-of-breed custom solutions for our projects.  The advantage of good design and trustworthy suppliers ensures the most reliable outcome.  

Our guitars offer outstanding value for money, so although quality comes at a price for a prized instrument you aspire to own, you don’t need to pay boutique prices equivalent to buying a car.  

How to Order

The process is simple.  Just email your enquiry to us once you know which models in our catalogue take your fancy.  We’ll let you know what is possible and estimate a price.  There might be some technical or practical limitations in adapting certain models for your requirement - for example, extra strings or frets, so we’ll advise the most suitable model/s to suit your needs.  

Check our list of custom options for pricing of any extras you might wish to add to the build.  This will help you spec the quotation request and assess affordability so we can get back to you with an acceptable quote.  

Once the quoted build price is agreed and you’re happy to proceed officially with the build process, a non-refundable deposit is paid and we’re good to go.  

Please see the How to Pay section on this page for payment options.  

For any special parts we must order separately (not sourced directly by the factory from their own suppliers), we usually ask for a second down payment to cover the parts when they are ready to ship to the factory.  Parts are typically manufactured within 4-6 weeks.  

The final balance is only due when the guitar is set up and ready for delivery.  

The Build Cycle

The average build time, from the beginning of our official engagement (when the deposit is paid) to completion (when the instrument is ready for delivery) is typically 12-16 weeks.  

The first phase (consultation phase) of the project includes the specification and technical design process.  During this time, we will work together closely via email to discuss and prepare everything required for final confirmation and submission to the factory.  During this time, it is possible to change or upgrade aspects or components in the spec.  However, this might alter the original quoted price relating to the parts and design hours.  

The second phase involves the processing of the build at the factory.  Due to the nature of factory scheduling and methodology, you can expect less frequent communications and status updates (unlike working with a luthier building your project on site) until reference photos are supplied to us.  At this point, we will both examine the photos to ensure the build has been crafted exactly to spec and mutual expectations.  If anything needs to be actioned or corrected, this is usually turned around within a day or two and updated photos are supplied.  All guitars in the consignment must be signed off before leaving the factory for the airport, which means we’re pressed for time and need to hear back from all customers prior to export.  We’re counting on a quick reply to get things moving, but in most cases, customers are eager and waiting for their instruments so things tend to wrap up very quickly for phase two.  

The third phase begins approximately four days later once the consignment arrives with us for setup or final installation and wiring of the electronics.  Any special requests such as a PLEK (computer-assisted fret dress) or restring are undertaken usually within a week or two after the consignment clears customs in the UK.  We’ll be in touch to update you on the status and provide a shipping date and shipping price once we have determined the packed shipping weight usually on the same day.  Any outstanding balance on the build is due prior to shipping.  We’ll also send you high resolution photos of your guitar when it’s ready.  

Please be aware, although the manufacturing process itself only takes a couple of weeks or so, the production queue and various economic equations determined by the factory dictate the delivery timescales.  It is advisable rather not to engage in such a project where a customer is prone to nerves or impatience.  We cannot guarantee a completion date given that certain factors are outside our control, but we do our utmost best to ensure every build is delivered to us according to our high standards and your expectations.  The instrument does not leave the factory floor until it has been signed off by us.  

How Custom?

Custom means custom.  We like a challenge and very rarely turn down an opportunity if your budget can cover the job.  For this reason, budget and timescales are usually the prohibiting factors and not a lack of willingness on our part.  

We design custom hardware parts, such as bridges, control plates and headless components.  We’re not electronics engineers, but we understand how to implement them in our product.  As such, we work closely with our expert suppliers who wind pickups for us according to our dimensions.  We don’t prescribe how a pickup should be wound unless a given supplier provides that option.  However, we will recommend a tonally suitable pickup type for your needs and then specify the necessary string sensing area, wiring configuration if available (e.g. parallel or series) and accompanying circuitry.  

We can offer active/passive, passive-only, piezo, coil switching, midrange frequency switching and MIDI solutions.  

Examples of some fairly unconventional projects we’ve worked on include:

We have, on occasions sourced exotic top wood independently and shipped to the factory for inclusion in our builds.  We’re not averse to doing this but it does add some extra time and notable cost.  All wood imported for the factory must be fumigated and fully certified.  Given that all wood assembly on our instruments is handled by the factory, it’s more feasible to source wood options directly from the factory itself.  Please see the options page for a complete list of available woods.  

While high gloss and satin lacquered finishes are our mainline and most cost-effective method due to factory processes, it is always possible to apply polished oil finishes offsite to a bare wood guitar if required.  The only real factor here is the cost of commissioning a UK-based specialist, considering the vast difference in labour rates, but it's certainly an option to consider.

RMI offers both a product and a service.  A service has a deliverable outcome in the same way a product represents a deliverable outcome but a service is sometimes undervalued and undersold unless it is clearly quantified.  The engagement is time intensive and requires responsible, attentive management in addition to the initial design hours and technical discussion.  We factor these service estimates carefully into our pricing but there is always a risk that extra time might be taken to complete the project as expected.  We don’t add any unexpected surprises to the final price.  The price is agreed upfront and any change requests are subsequently made (where and when possible) by mutual agreement.  

Our customers can expect fair and transparent interactions with us and in the same manner, we ask for fairness, patience and understanding in return.  We always do our best as is reasonably possible to satisfy our customers.  

How to Pay

The quickest and easiest way to pay is through Paypal.  However, you may also pay via bank transfer or by debit/credit card.  We don’t have a card terminal at this stage so all card payments are handled by Paypal – even if you don’t have a Paypal account this is possible.  We simply send a payment invoice to your email and you then follow the link and the Paypal checkout processes the payment from the funding source of your choice.  

Our preferred currency is GBP (British pounds sterling) but we do accept payments in US dollars (USD) and euros (EUR).  Bear in mind that conversions from local currencies to GBP do incur a cost given that Paypal and bank set exchange rates in their favours and not ours.  Similarly, any foreign payments between currencies and between banks incur transaction fees – typically around 3% for sending and then, an additional commission is also charged by the receiving bank to the recipient (RMI).  

For this reason, while the 4.5% estimated average transaction fee seems considerably higher than sending money through a bank, unless the exchange rate of the bank is lower than the Paypal rate AND the combined sending and receiving fees for both banks is lower than the Paypal fee, it really is a lot more painless to use Paypal – in our opinion.  

Our prices don’t include transaction fees as fees are variable between banks, so all receipts are calculated on clear funds received.  Please check with your bank and Paypal to determine which method will work out cheaper for you.  

What to pay

For the purpose of definition, the build refers to the complete physical guitar fully tested and set up to a standard level (installation of special parts is included but these parts are priced separately).  The project refers to the entire engagement from beginning to end and includes all costs where the guitar ships to you exactly as ordered with any extra parts, services and accessories.  

Project total = deposit + special parts + (build price - deposit) + extras + shipping

Deposit

£100 for builds priced £500 - £750

£200 for builds priced £750 - £1000

£300 for builds priced £1000 – £2000

£400 for builds priced £2000 - £3000

Special custom or extra parts + shipping, duties and taxes

If applicable, this agreed amount is payable on completion of the parts (typically 4-6 weeks)

Balance of the Build

Quoted build price minus deposit paid

Extras

Anything not included in the build price agreed beforehand, such as PLEK setup (standard setup is free), hard shell case, bag, special string requests (D’Addario XL nickel wound are standard) etc.  

Shipping

Fully tracked and priced on shipping weight + insurance.  Only items shipped in a hard shell case can be insured against damage.  


Shipping Guidelines

We can ship to most countries, but please check with us first.  In some countries, corruption and unreliable handling agents might be an issue or make extra insurance cover essential.  

We always ship with a fully tracked service.  Local deliveries take 1 – 2 working days and international deliveries usually take 3-4 working days.  

Shipping total = packed parcel weight + insurance

Our guitars are always packed with the utmost care - no less securely than how we receive them from the factory.   However, the policy of our courier service does not provide insurance cover against damage unless the instrument is packed in a hard shell case.  Unless in a case, the instrument can only be insured against loss.  

Approximate shipping costs for packed items weighing 5Kg – 10Kg:

Destination

Delivery Time

Standard Insurance

Price Range

UK

1 – 2 working days

£100

£20 - £30

Europe

3 – 4 working days

£100

£70 - £120

Worldwide

3 – 4 working days

£100

£110 - £160