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The Signature Guitar Company was a Canadian Guitar company that made beautifully crafted, high quality electric guitars and basses.  They were located in Aurora, Ontario, Canada and existed between 1987 and 1990. "Signature Guitars - Made for Musicians, by Musicians" (6) was the company motto and when an experienced player picked up a Signature and played it the time and care that went in to producing the instrument was evident. One of the companies objectives was to make an all Canadian instrument that had a personal or custom feel, straight off the shelf and Signature went to great lengths to achieve this aim (1). They are a well designed and balanced instrument and a pleasure to play. Perhaps more importantly their sound was very unique: clear, rich and bright yet warm and very distinctive. This was largely due to the carefully selected tone-woods of the body and neck and the custom engineered pickups. Every detail on a Signature Guitar was carefully planned and scrupulously executed. Even the inside of the electronics cavity was beautifully designed!

They were called "Signature" because, as an option, you could order one directly from the company and have your name (or anything else for that matter) embedded in a mother of pearl inlay on the 12th fret. The model name of the Guitar was inlaid in mother of pearl at the 21st fret. 

Signature Guitars were originally made famous by RUSH guitarist Alex Lifeson. Alex helped get the company going in the early days and was heavily involved in the design and development of Signature instruments. Alex used Signatures (most significantly the Aurora model) almost exclusively for the albums "Hold your fire" and "Show of hands" (2). Alex later switched to PRS guitars in the early 1990 when the company was no more. 


The Myth of Creation

Legend has it that Russ Heinl, an old buddy of Alex's, approached him in 1986 with a prototype of a new MIDI pickup. After playing it Alex wasn't to impressed with the pickup but thought the Guitar the pickup was installed in was great! (1)(5). Russ and Alex then got together and with the assistance of some other fine Canadian luthiers developed the Signature and consequently the Signature Guitar Company was born. 

Beginning production in 1987 they produced a limited number of models (it is believed about 500) until the company closed in 1990. In this brief, 3 year window in time some of the most outstanding guitars in the world were created. During production there were 2 distinct generations of Signature guitar. The first generation (1-gen) were handsome flat tops and the second generation (2-gen) had beautifully carved tops. 1-gen Aurora models can be seen and heard being played by Alex Lifeson on the RUSH video "Show of Hands". 

Another great, Guy Pratt (bass player for Pink Floyd) used Signature Excalibre Basses in the late '80s and early 90s for much of Pink Floyd's studio and live work. 

The fade into legend

So with such excellent quality and superb craftsmanship, where did the Signature Guitar Company go? It is a sad, unjust and cruel world and unlike the movies good does not always prevail over evil. The time was a dark, perilous and morally corrupt 1990. LA glam rock, sissy metal music and big hay stack hair jobs ruled the Earth. Factories were soullessly pumping flash guitars with lots of points that were virtually dipped in fluro paint. The market was saturated with such abominable excuses for instruments. These companies also had huge endorsement propaganda deals with slick LA rockers. 

Because each and every Signature came stock standard with the best available materials, expert craftsmanship and state of the art Evans/EMG electronics they were selling for US$1200 - $1800. The poor guy's at Signature werre forced to compete in a tough, image driven market against cheaper, flashier yet quality compromised instruments. In a world over run by bad yet showy craftsmanship Signature was unable to keep its head above water. 

An interesting yet tragic omen to this was that Alex's famous pearl white Signature (Great White) seen in "Show of hands" had its head broken off one day prior to the companies passing. It happened during a hand off and guitar change on stage during the "presto" tour. 

Sadly, the Signature Guitar Co. slipped away in 1990 into legend and their competitors to this day are still trying to catch up with their quality. 

"The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very, very brightly..."  Victor Tyrell, 2023.


Alex Lifeson's "dexter"ous didgets "Caress the Steel" of his trusted Signature Guitar - 
the illustrious "Great White" (RIP).
Below is the mother of pearl inlay that was imbeded in the 21st fret.

The Company

The Myth of Creation

Materials & Craftsmanship

The Fade into Legend

Model Identification

Information Sources

Miscellaneous Artifacts

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Materials & Craftsmanship

Design: All Signatures were designed with a super strat shape. But that was where the similarities ended. Signature had cutaways that gave access to all 22 frets, the body was sculpted and contoured at the back and neck joint to optimize comfort and playability. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the guitar was the 'eagle' head stock. All the tuners were in line on the top of the head which curved down handsomely to a point at the tip like the beak of the North American Bald Eagle.

The 2-gen models had a elegantly carved top that not only looked great but also gave the guitar a very snug feel to hold and play. The final feel and ergonomics made the signature an extremely comfortable, well balanced, functional and pleasurable guitar to play. 

It is interesting to note that Alex Lifeson was involved at all stages of the design and detailing of Signature guitars. Alex designed the radius of the necks and they were all produced to his specifications, hand size and feel. Together, Alex and Russ plotted out the cutaway depth and  positioned the pickups, bridge, and control knobs with scientific precision and delicacy. This was all done with a permanent marking pen while they shared a pepperoni pizza and coca cola on the floor of his home studio! Between them sat a white guitar body. It had no bridge, knobs, strings, tuners, or pickups, just a neck. Upon this diamond in the rough Alex plotted out a guitar "The way it ought to be!"

"And so it was cast in stone from that moment on. That one body and that one body only, became the template for all things Signature." (8)

Beautiful Tone woods: All Signatures were made with solid, hand picked and examined alder bodies and rock maple necks. Models with see through laquor were topped with carved and figured flame maple. When the guy's at Signature assigned the wood buyer/selector to the task of finding the right woods he knew exactly what to look for. For the body he chose a type of Alder, more accurately called Lime Wood, that is harvested from a particular area in Quebec. That is the ONLY place on earth this unique tone wood comes from.

Fret boards were a rich black ebony. Neck through Signature guitar bodies were crafted by luthiers from "Larrivee" while bolt ons were crafted by "Godin" (8, 3, 4). These shops are both Canadian and both have solid reputations for being flawless guitar craftsmen. Please DO NOT contact Larrivee or Godin asking for parts and information!!! They have no more Signature stock and do not wish to be pestered!!! Instead have a look at their more recent lines and models of guitars. Their quality is beyond reproach.

Building a Legend: "Signatures were truly hand made, one by one." (8) As mentioned previously, Neck  through guitars were carved, sanded, sprayed and finished by the luthiers at Larrivee. Godin carved the necks and bodies of the bolt-ons. 

After the bodies left Godin and Larrivee and arrived at the Signature workshop they were put together with scrupulous care and painstaking attention to detail. The frets were dressed, the Evan's and Seymour Duncan electronics wired in, the name plates were set in the necks, Schaller tuners and bridges were installed and the truss rods were set. They were finally strung and set up by expert guitar techs before going out to the customer. During the process each step was overseen and checked. Each guitar had a check list that would be signed off as each stage was completed. When the guitar was complete the checklist was signed and dated and shipped with the guitar as a guarantee of quality. 

Even though craftsmanship was at a high level, the rejection rates for sub standard parts and components was punishing. This had two effects on the company. The first was that the end product was of a far superior standard to that of its contemporaries. The second was that this increased production costs. Unlike their competitors Signature took pride in their instruments and saw it as their responsibility to deliver the finest quality rather than churn out candy sticks, even though this was an extreme financial risk. 

Neck & Fret board: The neck is one piece 25.5" Rock Maple. The head is tilt back with no scarf joint (3). The fret board is Black ebony, with 22 medium frets. Marker inlays were discrete dots in the "Gretsch" position and there were dots at the top side of the neck. As described before the model name (Aurora, Pegasus, Odyssey etc.) was inlaid in mother of pearl at the 21st fret. The customer had the option of getting their name inlaid at the 12th fret. 

Known Colors & Finishes: Solid colors and transparent finishes were offered. Figured maple tops (flame & quilted) included see through red, blue, Tobacco burst, orange, and copper. Solid colors included Gun metal black, Pearl white, Blue. If you know of any other color please contact me and tell me or send photo's! 

Hardware: The customer could choose between chrome, gold or black hardware. As company standard Signature used Schaller machine heads and Signature/Floyd Rose II double locking tremolos on all their models. The attention to detail on these guitars was so good that they even came stock standard with Schaller strap locks at a time when no one had even thought of doing this. 

Electronics: Passive - Evan's (E-1 Single coil & EE-2 Splittable Humbucker) Signature Pickups. Limited production. Active - EMG/Fernandez (Single Coil, Bass split). Limited production.

The Evan's pickups were new to the world in 1987. They were designed and built especially for The Signature Guitar Company. In terms of clarity and tonal integrity Evan's eclipsed everything else available at the time. They were extremely quiet, even at high gain levels (1) and rivaled active pickups in terms of noise (or lack there of). Evan's stated their pickups offered "Clean, Clear Distortion" and one reviewer/owner said that "that's as good a description as any" (3). Evan's offered pickups that had extremely good balance and played beautifully with either low or high gain. 

Sometime during the production of the 2-gen Signatures the company offered the option of 2 pickup types. as well as Evan's the customer had the option of installing Seymour Duncan Trembucker and Hot Stack pickups. The Seymour Duncan trembucker pickups were built especially for Signature. They were rectangular dual pickups with gold plating. (8)

Other Signature Features: All Signature Guitars came with a custom, form fitting Signature hard case (3). All Signature instruments were shipped with a production checklist that marked off each stage of the instruments development. When the instrument was finished and ready for the customer this documentation was signed and dated. 


Model Identification

In their short yet intense history the Signature Guitar Company made seven models, (6 guitars and one bass) all with the option of bolt on or neck through design. The model identification depended on the pickup configuration. As mentioned before there were two distinct generations of Signature guitar. The fist generation (1987-1989) had flat tops and the second generation (1989-1990) had carved tops. 

An interesting anomaly with regards to serial numbers (SN) on Signature guitars is that the SN on the first commercially available Signature Guitar started at 925 and went up from there. What is the significance of this? An unusual practice perhaps but further research reveals that this cryptic serial code was initiated by Russ Heinl. After consulting numerology experts, spending numerous hours buried in books, doing historical research on planetary alignments and measuring the ratios on the angles of the Pyramids of Giza we have discovered that Russ Heinl's birthday is on September 25th (or 9/25). Is this the key to the mystery? The truth is indeed out there. 

A few people have written in saying that where the serial number should be on their Signature guitar they have a XXXX instead. These are aparently prototypes. 

Serial Numbers Neck Through: Serial numbers on Neck Through models were placed in a circular decal behind the head stock. 

Serial Numbers bolt on: Serial Numbers on signatures with bolt on necks were stamped in the black metal backing plate behind the neck joint. 

Later in the production Signature introduced "The Visionary" models. These had binding about the neck, head stock, and natural binding about the body. There was a Mother of pearl tablet laid at the twelfth fret with an Egyptian type hieroglyph engraved on it. Another distinct feature of the Visionary models was that Signature switched to Seymour Duncan Hotstack and Trembucker pickups. "The Visionary" was the very epitome of Signature craftsmanship and design. There are few guitars on this Earth that can stand beside it and claim to equal its class and elegance.

Three active single coil pickups.

Pickups: Three custom EMG/Fernandes Signature active single coil,
Controls: Three mini toggles, one volume, one tone. 

Actives were standard on the "Aurora". Special Evan's E-1's could be ordered in replacement of the actives for an extra cost. 

Flat top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

Carved and figured maple top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

One passive humbucker in bridge position.

Pickups: One Evan's (E-2 Splittable) Signature double humbucker Passive. 
Controls: One vol. control. Push-pull master volume offer coil tapping on the humbucking pickups

Flat top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

Carved and figured maple top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

Three passive single coil.

Pickups: Three Evan's ( E-1) Signature single-coil Passive. 
Controls: One volume control, one tone control, three mini-toggles.

Flat top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

Carved and figured maple top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

Two humbucker, one bridge and one neck, one single coil in mid position.

Pickups: Two Evan's (E-2 splittable) Signature double humbuckers (bridge and neck pos) and one Evan's (E-1) Signature single coil. Passive.
Controls:Three mini-toggles, one volume one tone. Push-pull master volume and tone controls offer coil tapping on the humbucking pickups.

Flat top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

Carved and figured maple top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 


One humbucker in bridge position, Two single coil in neck and mid position.

Pickups: One Evan's (E-2 Splittable) Signature double Humbucker, Two Evan's (E-1) Signature single-coils. Passive.
Controls Three mini-toggles, one volume, one tone. Push-pull master volume and tone controls offer coil tapping on the humbucking pickups. 

Flat top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

Carved and figured maple top. Neck bolt on or Neck Through. 

One active straight in bridge position, one split in mid position. 

Pickups: Two active EMG/Fernandes Signature "PJ" style pickups 
Controls: One volume, one "pan" control, boost/cut treble control, boost/cut bass control. 

Flat top. Neck Through only. 

Carved and figured maple top. Neck Through only. Some fretless.

With Excalibre bridges, some had Schallers, some had Schallers with the Sig name engraved and some had the special Signature bridge that was designed just for it.

Later in production (1989) Signature introduced "The Visionary" Models. Visionaries were offered in all pickup configurations. Carved Top, Neck through only. 

The Visionary was the very extremity of Signatures fine craftsmanship and design. As well as all the standard Signature features it offered binding about the neck and head stock, and natural binding about the body. Some versions of the Visionary also had egyptian type hieroglyphs engraved in mother of pearl and embedded at the 12th fret (1).


Information Sources:
The information compiled for this site came from the following sites and places:

1. Harmony central -
2. Alex Lifeson's gear -
3. An excellent personal home page from Jimi D - This page also contains a stunning range of other guitars that Jimi either owns or has owned. Well worth a look!
4. Advertisements for the Signature Guitar Company in various guitar mags- July 89 Guitar For The Practicing Musician magazine, October 1989 Guitar World Magazine. 
5. Various interviews with and articles on Alex Lifeson and RUSH. 
6. Signature Guitar Company information brochure. 
7. My own Odyssey Signature Guitar. 
8. Information from a reliable 'informant' and co-conspirator that was close to the core of the Signature gang.

If you have any more information, stories or pictures of or concerning Signature Guitars please send them in to !

Now Available: 
An electronic full color version of the original Signature Guitar Company product brochure! (4x .jpg files at about 2 meg)
Please Email me if you would like a copy.

Do you have a Signature Guitar to sell?

People are contacting us all the time wondering where they may be able to find a Signature instrument or locate Signature parts and accessories. If you have any info on where we may be able to find Signature Guitars, Basses, parts and accessories please contact us at

Your assistance is much appreciated! 


Do you have more info on Signature Guitars?

If there is any information you may have that is not included on this page and you think should be CONTACT US! These may include Guitar reviews, advertisements, articles and trivia.  If there is any information that is incorrect, inaccurate, or wrong on this page CONTACT US! We will correct it ASAP.
Also, if you have any pictures of your Signature, please email them to me and we will post them in the Miscellaneous Artifacts gallery.



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DISCLAIMER : This is NOT an official Signature Guitar Company web site, nor is the author in any way associated with, or has been associated with the company. The views and opinions expressed in this site are the authors and are NOT the views or opinions of the Signature Guitar Company or anyone associated with it. This web site is non profit and is constructed for educational and reference purposes only. It is posted for the benefit of guitar players and enthusiasts who have found information on Signature Guitars hard to come by. The Author is not and does not claim to be an expert on Signature Guitars. All information on this  site are referenced where possible. If some of the information contained here is inaccurate or incorrect please inform the web master at

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