Here are some of the questions I am most often asked along with the answers I usually give in reply:

What is the difference between a hand made guitar and one I could buy in my local music shop?

The most obvious answer is that one is hand made and the other is factory made. Consider the difference between a hand made cake and one that you buy in a supermarket. The handmade cake is more likely to be lovingly made using carefully chosen ingredients. Someone who really knows about cake and who really enjoys eating good food will choose the hand made cake over the supermarket cake. If they have discerning taste and sensitive taste-buds they will be able to connect to the soul of the baker as well as the cake and eating it will be an uplifting and enlightening experience. Especially if it’s a well made cake.

Someone with a less discerning taste will find no difference. They are both cake. They’re both sweet. They both fill you up. Which is basically what cake is supposed to be and do. The fact that one may be made by a highly skilled and dedicated baker while the other is made by a number of overworked and underpayed staff on a production line who most likely don’t care about the cake they’re involved   in producing, makes no difference. Cake is cake. Same goes for guitars.

Tens of thousands of guitars made each year

Fluffy the kitten helping build a flamenco guitar

Fluffy the kitten helping build a flamenco guitar

How long does it take you to build a guitar?

Something like around 80 – 100 hours, though usually spread out over 2 – 3 months. Certain processes such as the French polish require a lot of patience. Also I like to be sure that the finished instrument is fully stabilised and that the wood has settled into its new shape and form before I send it out into the world.

Because all of the work I do is with hand tools, it takes a lot longer that if I were to use machines. For example, a soundboard could be thicknessed on a sanding machine in about 2 minutes to an even thickness all over. It takes me about 2 hours with a hand plane. The difference is that working with a hand plane, I am able to judge far more accurately the most suitable thickness for the particular piece of wood I am working with. By constantly testing its tension and  flexibility, by assessing the variations in grain spacing, by tapping and listening to it while considering the final sound and feel I want the guitar to possess, I thickness the soundboard accordingly. It is very rare that I would try to give a soundboard even thickness all over. Even more rare that I would thickness any two the same. That’s just one example.


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