am a maker of traditional guitars ~ I promise not to move the hole,
slope the front, lace it with carbon fibre or to invent new fret material.
But like so many of the traditionalists I am quietly innovative inside
the guitar and have developed some of my own internal structures and assembly procedures.
guitars have good carrying power due to their higher mix of harmonics
than many others. Smaller than average size helps here but there are
I build a slight dome into the lower bout front
of my guitars. This allows increased rigidity/weight ratios to be achieved.
My bridge design is carefully built to match this and the skirt of the
lower bout is contoured so as not to distort the doming.
You may notice
this since the perimeter of my fronts is not a single plane ~ you have to
look carefully! Smooth tonal transition from string to string is
My neck design is subtly modified to encourage better tone
and sustain right to the highest fret.
As well as high fret position sustain, my guitars are often remarked on as feeling easy in the
left hand due to careful and slender neck profiling and sophisticated fingerboard contouring.
There is slight positive curvature across the frets and bass relief ~ a
slight concavity along the fingerboard length under the bass string.
This produces the 'playability' commented on by many players including
those who have commented below.
finish for a modern guitar is a modern lacquer. It is a type of spirit
varnish derived from vegetable materials.
I apply it by brush, cloth
and spray at different stages and different parts of the instrument.
It is extremely good acoustically ~ in no way inferior to French Polish and much more robust ~ and it finishes to a high gloss.
I have tried
many other finishes but this is the right one. I use French Polish only
for repairs and restoration work.
frustration of trying to learn from the existing literature on guitar-making
led me to write up my own methods.
So in 1997 "The Guitar Maker’s
Workshop" was published to serve as a how-to-do-it instruction
book as well as a
general interest woodwork text. Naturally, my own
working methods have moved on in search of fine tuning and
improvement but the method given in the book is still valid for a first guitar.
Unfortunately, it went out of print in January
of 2016 after 18.5 years. With what seems to me like a casual lack
of courtesy, Crowood Press did not inform me of this, although they had done so for the earlier
My apologies to anyone I have inadvertently mis-informed about availabilty. It is available on Amazon but only at
much inflated prices which do something for my ego but nothing for my pocket. I am not selling the book nor do
I have a stock of copies. I am sorry about
this. It may, of course, still be available from better libraries.
Recent Specific Examples
A customer came to me with some leaf illustrations printed out to see if any of my rosettes had anything resembling them.
Nothing in my bank of rosettes matched so there were two possibilities, either marquetry or painting.
The latter was clearly quicker so I did a couple of rings of purfling and painted leaves on the Spruce between them.
This was intended as a draft and could have been sanded off but met with instant approval.
And so it remained as an acrylic painting in an unusual frame. The tie block on the bridge was painted to match.
This led to the idea of matching purfling. Purflings are usually natural wood colours so I sent for 3 or 4 different green
stained shades in veneer and made up my own to match the painted colours in the rosettes as closely as possible.
Quite separately the customer fancied a perforated head and showed me some example illustrations.
My suggestion of the reverse taper head was also approved. So drawings flew back and forth.
Some ideas were judged structurally unsound and some would have been
impossible to polish but eventually we decided on one that worked.
It still required a new kind of jigsaw blade to cut it out.
After all these firsts the armrest seemed almost commonplace. The timber for both back and sides is Macassar Ebony.
The zero fret is now available on all models and is coming to be regarded as the default option.
’All bone' nuts can be supplied on request but the zero fret is regarded by this Luthier as more reliable.
guitar arrived the other day and I'm having a fine time with it. I don't
know exactly how it is
that you shape the neck but the playability...
well, my left hand thinks that Christmas has come,
which I guess it
nearly has. My right hand, meanwhile, is enjoying experiments with tone
Attached is a photograph of two family members enjoying your
guitar. Merry Christmas,"
Matthew (with Portia).
am a professional guitarist living in Tokyo. I own a small Torres guitar
made by you. I
have been using it since 2000 and am very happy with it.
In fact I have
just done my recital using your guitar. The audience (as well as me)
was amazed by the sweetness and loudness of your small guitar.
very easy to play and I can do my own music without any kind of physical
or mentally stressed feeling.
My students and guitarist friends are
all impressed by your instrument."
for your guitar, what can I say ~ nothing bad!! It's loud, colourful,
warm and the treble sound can only be described as magic. ... it strikes
me that you take a lot of interest and great care in your guitars, which
is only natural I suppose, but it's comforting to know I have a guitar
from a highly skilled and passionate luthier. In today's turbulent world
it is nice to meet someone kind and helpful who takes pride in their
If I get a spare 3 or 4 thousand in the near future then you can
build me a really exotic looking and magical sounding instrument!"
have just played one of your 1999 cedar guitars ... Of all the guitars
I have played, it is the most player-friendly. When I played ... I couldn't
believe how much the instrument helped my left hand and how easy the
scale runs were. There was a lovely cushioned and springy feel to it.
Also, the high end of the first string was very pure and ringing. I
think that your neck profiling is the best I've seen and the instrument
visually stunning as well. All-in-all, I rate your guitar as the
second best I have ever played (the best being my own Christopher Dean).
It made my heart beat more quickly and for that I thank you!"
bought one of your guitars, the Aranjuez model I believe... ...and I
thought that I would drop you a line to say how much I still enjoy it.
I have used it for performances and the guitar really comes alive in
large acoustic places. The sound it produces appears to be getting better
and better. I hope that... ...you continue with what clearly is a passion
to you ~ the making of quality guitars. In consequence, your guitars
allow the player to keep alive the passion of music making."