Inside the workshop
I was born in Lincoln, England in 1957 and began playing guitar at the age of fourteen and getting involved with bands soon after. In the late '70s I studied architecture, and left college with a degree and a sense of structure and form. A stint as a joiner reinforced my interest in working with wood, originally absorbed as a child in the environment of the family joinery business. Meanwhile constant activity as a musician deepened my understanding of the guitar from a player's perspective.
I began building guitars in 1990 at an evening class under the tutelage of Roy Courtnall, learning traditional Spanish methods. Having set up my own workshop soon afterwards, I began exploring a wider variety of ideas from many other makers as well as developing my own concepts, and have experimented with and refined these over the years. I have always listened to feedback from the most demanding of players and simultaneously have become sensitised to what I am listening for in a great guitar.
In recent years I have become very interested in using reclaimed and local woods for my instruments.
During my time as a guitar maker I have illustrated a book on guitar making, 'Making Master Guitars' by Roy Courtnall (Robert Hale 1993). This has become something of a standard textbook in the field and was a real stepping-stone in my own research and building methods.
I have taught guitar making classes over the years, and I have recently finished teaching classical and steel string guitar making to degree level one day a week at Newark College in Nottinghamshire, England. The guitar school at the college has been a partner in The Leonardo Guitar Research Project, which researched the use of non-tropical woods in guitar making: a theme that is close to my heart and one that is informing my work. Teaching guitar making has been a great way to engage with ideas about the craft as well as keeping oneself grounded in the fundamentals.
I have, until recently, been a board member of the European Guitar Builders (EGB) and was heavily involved in the organisation of the Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin for 2016, including the setting up of the Local Wood Challenge where exhibitors were invited to take up the challenge of building an instrument using woods from their own locality.
I regularly show my work at exhibitions in both Europe and the USA.
I am something of a scavenger and am always on the lookout for high quality reclaimed woods that I can use.
I am active as a musician and this constantly reminds me of the need for the musician to connect with their instrument.