I made my first guitars when I was a student over 40 years ago. I really began to learn about lutherie – the art of stringed instrument making – sometime in the ’70s by taking classes at the old College of Furniture taught by Tony Smith. At about this time I also met Stephen Delft, then living in London, who was very helpful to a beginner luthier. I built a lute at a Morley College class run by Stephen Barber. After moving to Ditchling I built a classical guitar in the Lewes workshop of Pablo Requena, learnt more about steel strung guitar construction with Nick Benjamin and built an archtop mandolin under the expert eye of Richard Osborne. Recently I’ve been making archtop jazz guitars with hand carved front and back.
I mainly make flat top steel strung instruments but have also made nylon strung guitars inspired by a late 19th century Martin 0-28 guitar. These have a quite different feel to a modern classical guitar, what they lack in power they make up for in sweetness and clarity.
I do not believe in “mastery” – learning never stops.
Virtuoso player Richard Durrant plays three of my instruments, a celtic bouzouki, a ukulele and a tenor guitar. Of his tenor guitar he says “My four string guitar has a magical, silvery sound that brings a new, almost folky dimension to each concert. Exploring Bach on metal strings played with a plectrum is a fascinating experience!”.
Here is Will Fly playing his matching tenor guitar and mandolin.
I have also made solid electric instruments, including an electric mandolin and a Telecaster / Variax hybrid. Since in a previous life I was an electronics engineer working in the Film and TV industry I am well qualified for projects involving electronics.