At heart I am still a guitarist, and so it is very satisfying that through my guitar making I can contribute to people’s music making.
I find making guitars a challenge and a pleasure. I enjoy the craft of precise woodwork, as well as designing the rosette, purflings and other artistic elements. But above all I enjoy the fact that guitar making, like playing an instrument, is a never-ending process of development. Every small experiment and variation – whether with the design or with the selection of the wood – contributes to my knowledge and allows me to achieve greater consistency and control over the way my guitars sound.
When I started to learn the guitar in my early teens, I initially didn’t realise there was such a thing as Classical Guitar. I thought I was on a path to playing like Jimi Hendrix. However, under the guidance of my teacher I was soon very happily converted and started growing my guitar nails.
The major theme of my lessons was the quality of the sound. I learnt about the importance of making a sound that was strong, beautiful, and expressive, and which had a lot of variation in tone colour. In retrospect, this focus on sound was great preparation for making guitars, even though guitar making was not in my mind at the time.
I studied English literature at university, but I kept up my playing and my love of classical music, and so when I finished my studies in 2003, I decided that I would learn to make guitars. I started by teaching myself from a book, learning the necessary woodcraft along the way. I also contacted the well-known luthier Christopher Dean for guidance and advice, and over many years he was extremely helpful and generous with his time and knowledge. A little later, after I had already made several guitars, I attended Jose Romanillos’ guitar making course in Spain. I have great admiration for Jose’s guitars, and it was fascinating to learn in detail what makes them sound as they do.
Me (centre) with Jose Romanillos in 2007
Since then, I have established my workshop on a farm in Oxfordshire, making guitars for private commission and for sale through dealers - in particular Kent Guitar Classics, where I had the privilege of playing and measuring many exceptional guitars over the years.