In the mid ‘70’s I bought my first expensive “name” guitar which served me well for many years. In 1996 it was severely damaged when an aircraft cargo door closed on it, virtually folding it and its flight case in half. The neck had been snapped from the body, not cleanly but as a “green stick” fracture. It looked so bad that I was on the verge of throwing it in the dumpster. Instead I took it to a repair guy I knew, member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen and renowned Luthier, Sam Irwin and asked if he would repair it. He was too busy but said that he would supervise me if I wanted to do the repair myself. Having never had any experience in working with wood, apart from a couple of years at school, which resulted in my only finished project, a wobbly teapot stand, I embarked on the repair and to my surprise and delight got my instrument back up and running. It was then that Sam suggested that I build an instrument myself so I joined a class he was running at his Lagan School of Lutherie in Belfast, http://www.laganlutherieschool.org/,bought some woods and embarked with fear and trepidation on a journey of discovery. About 8 months later I had my first custom made, hand built guitar. The joy and satisfaction of having turned pieces of wood into a playable and great sounding instrument was so exciting I decided to build another, hoping that second time around I could eliminate the mistakes that I had made with the first. The bug had well and truly bitten. I have now been building acoustic guitars for 13 years, much of that under the tutelage of Sam.
One of the most common questions asked of a luthier is, “Why should I pay so much when I can buy a guitar from a store for a couple of hundred dollars/pounds?” The answer is simple. Buy one from a store if that is what you want. There are many good, factory made, value for money guitars on the market and as such you can be sure there are a lot of people who own one but they are not hand crafted. A custom made guitar will give you have something that no one else has. You will have an instrument that is tailored to you and your style of playing. If it is right it will be your first choice every time you play. It will look and feel as comfortable as a bespoke suit. You will have chosen everything about it. The woods, the body shape, how it looks, how you want it to sound, how the neck feels. It will be unique to you and it will come with a lifetime free warranty against makers defects.
At present I am concentrating on two body shapes. My own Parlour model, based on the Martin “New Yorker” and a OOO style model but I will work with the customer to produce their preferred body style. Rare woods have Certificates of Origin and all woods are harvested from sustainable sources. www.Tonewood.com
Prices on request. Deposit required on all orders.
“Stunning guitars” Colin Reid.
Photographs by Alisdar McBroom
Website design by Andrew McCrum