Professional guitar setup, repair and upgrade service in Somerset for pros and beginners.
Been lucky enough to play and fettle my own, family and friends guitars since the late 60’s. In 69’ I joined my first (and last) band, “Brand X”, as a sound engineer with the occasional stand in for the rhythm and bass guitarists. I enjoy playing and the social life but it’s the “how it works” that intrigued me then and still does.
At the time I was studying electronic engineering and found myself configuring and fixing sound systems, guitar amps and guitars for band members and friends. After a few years of this I had the skills and experience to fix any amp made and make any guitar play and sound better.
In ‘72 I built my first electric guitar, it was for our lead guitarist: 2 x Gibson PAF, solid 1 piece mahogany body with double cut access to a bonded 24 fret Birdseye maple neck with ebony fret board and medium jumbo frets; played better and sounded as good as anything else around at the time.
Most guitars I have owned in the early days were either Gibson or Fender with the occasional Heritage but I was never as satisfied with them as I was with my own builds so I started building again and several Strats and Tele Customs followed. My last Tele Custom was inspirational and was designed from the beginning as a twin humbucker out of phase middle position “woman” tone guitar for the lead in a song that I was writing. Hand wound neck PAF and a SD little 59’er in the bridge hooked up with a custom built tele controls set to hold the highs back without being muddy. Neck was rosewood over flamed maple with an extra deep heel and long tenon bonded to an extra deep socket in an Ash centred Maple capped solid body. The bridge tray, controls, pick-ups and neck I sank deep into the body with absolutely minimum wood removed to maximise the contact area, maintain the wood density and keep a very clean player surface. It was a very fiddly build but very worthwhile build. Rhythm I played on a Yamaha DW 105c acoustic (still have it!), you can hear a sound bite of this track here:
Great guitars are things of beauty and if you are reading this you already know that. But that isn’t to say that it has to be a very expensive instrument! My experience has shown that the better the quality of the materials used and the better the fundamental construction of a guitar is the better the end result CAN be. Best quality materials are expensive for sure and you have to know how to put them together. In the modern World computer controlled wood working machines have significantly improved the quality and the consistency of a guitar build offering the opportunity of a better instrument, repeatedly. From here it’s how these fundamentally correct guitars are finished off that makes the difference between an ordinary and a beautiful instrument. Brand name appears to have little to do with it but I am not saying that I would prefer to play a Chinese made example if I had the opportunity to use an original, no way! But ever rising prices do have an impact.
As materials become more expensive I experimented with “donor” guitars as a basis for modestly priced but potentially very good guitars. I then transform them (keep the wood throw the rest away) and rebuild with quality parts and painstakingly set them up. Typically a re-fret or at least a fret dress and good quality custom parts.
Kinda brings me up to date. More than 40 years later I have been an engineer for a long time and and now with retirement looming it’s time to do what I am passionate about and so started the guitar clinic here in Somerset so I can transfer some of that passion and bring reasonably priced guitar fettling (repairs, set-up and care) and instruments that really do play and sound as they should, to the West of England.