Former Bleeding Through bassist Vijay Kumar has launched Artist Series Guitar, which crafts custom guitars designed by bands themselves in affordable but limited quantities. The first batch to go on sale this month was designed by Parkway Drive, Bleeding Through, Demon Hunter, Throwdown and Death by Stereo. Check out the snakeskin TxDx axe; the red, skull-flecked Bleeding Through guitar; and the Demon Hunter logo instrument, which fits since DH fans are known for sporting the logo as a tattoo.

But while the guitars are aesthetically pleasing, they have another motive, as well. That's to get the youth of today to pick up guitars and start playing them. For ASG, 'Guitar Hero' doesn't count and profits are secondary. No, they're not kidding.

"ASG was started with passion for music and guitar but also a social agenda," Kumar, who has been playing guitar in various capacities for 15 years, told Noisecreep. "Since passion for music/guitar is a bit ubiquitous among our generation, I would say the social agenda is a bit more important. Our agenda is to build an army of kids with guitars, playing and creating music. We spent our adolescent years in the hardcore/metal scene not only for love of music, but also as an emotional and expressive outlet. It was a place to show our colors. Playing music is another powerful way for the youth of today to show their colors.

"We can all remember the influential bands we obsessed over as kids, shutting out the rest of the world with our headphones as a nostalgic chorus or heavy riff swept us off into a stage diving fantasy. Those bands are the reason we started playing music. Every guitar player playing today picked up his/her first six string because a band or musician influenced them to do so. This is what ASG is about. This is why we came to fruition. To offer an easy route for music-hungry, passionate fans to become the influencers themselves. ASG is an easy way for fans to realize, 'I can do this too.'"

Kumar made it clear that his own experiences are a part of why ASG exists, saying, "The more surface level answer of why we did this would be, we love great f---in' music. We love guitar and more than anything, we love all the friends we made while touring and playing shows. The greatest summer of my life was spent on the road with three bands in s---ty vans on a beeline to Syracuse to launch the first ever Hellfest. That summer happened because I played guitar. I want everyone to have a summer like that."

Choosing which artists to work with for ASG is a simple process. "They have to stand for something," Kumar said. "They have to be courageous enough to play with a purpose stronger than a search for fame. Each band on the ASG roster has to feel passionate about our mission. In addition to the band's personal mission, we also love to work with artists with a great visual story or persona. All the bands on our current roster have great visual appeal, and simply stated, we think a guitar with their graphics on it would be rad." The current roster came together very easily because each band and the members involved are all very close friends of ASG.

The guitars are head-turners because of their look and because they are limited edition and individually numbered; no more than 500 guitars will be produced for each artist. While producing such a small quantity of an item usually jacks up the price, a limited release in this case ensures that the guitars retain and exceed their value as the band's grow.

"Running limited edition guitars in small presses significantly raises production cost," Kumar admitted. "However, we don't let that get in the way of our purpose, which is to get guitars into the kids' hands. That means we must make them financially accessible. Comparatively speaking, we could offer our guitar line for much more, especially when bundled with a hard-shell case, but we have decided to forfeit the typical industry profit margins in exchange for an easier 'in route' for those interested in joining the ASG family."

While ASG is only working with select bands at this point, they hope to expand down the road and work with more artists, perhaps even local ones.

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