A true custom is bespoke. As in it's tailored in every detail towards the customer. Case in point, my Waghorn 8 string. I picked the scale lengths, the parallel fret, sent diagrams to Tom explaining how I wanted the spacing of the knobs/switches , how I wanted the neck profiled, had Elysian send him pickups, sent multiple mockups regarding finishes. Yeah I didn't get a totally custom shape, but I liked his sauria shape since it's a neat take on the typical superstrat (especially with the violin carve).Isn't the question of "custom shop or not?" just where you'll put your own personal (basically arbitrary) line in the sand?
Are there any "custom shops" that do 100% of all requests, including custom shapes, whatever one-off hardware someone wants, non-standard pickups and electronics, illogical backwards multiscales? If so, they could all probably be counted on one hand. So if a shop doesn't build customer's own body shapes...does that make them no longer custom? What about not re-designing their neck angle to support a different bridge? What about not working with piezo electronics? Or if they won't do crackle paint jobs? If yes those still would count, and Kiesel doesn't count, then it's just a matter of where you draw your own personal line, then.
If you go to a pizza place and they say they can custom make you a pizza, and show you a menu of the available crusts, sizes, cheese, toppings and sauces, if they don't have honey calabrese sausage or kimchi and won't make it in-house, do they no longer get to claim "custom pizzas"?
Edit: note: I want to make sure that the above doesn't come across as chest-pokey or antagonistic. I'm genuinely curious about the conversation.
Kiesels are nothing like that experience. It's pick from these options or fuck off.