I have been making lutes and related early instruments since 1989 when I enrolled at the
London College of Furniture (now part of the London Metropolitan University). By the summer of 1994 had successfully completed five years of instrument making, study and research into the subject and attained a BSc. Hons.
Since leaving LCF I have continued instrument making to the high standard demanded by professional musicians and serious amateurs alike. After some time spent in the West Country I set up a permanent workshop in Kent in 1998, since when the majority of the 200+ instruments I?ve now made have been created. Though I have also made classical guitars and members of the mandolin family and have carried out numerous repairs to various types of stringed instruments, early instrument making is still very much the specialist area for which I am known.
Great care is taken in selecting materials. The best instruments require the best timber. I usually have at least five or six woods available for lute backs ~ for example: Walnut, cherry, pear, plum, maple, ash, yew and laburnum. Please note timber in stock may vary. Of course if there is a particular wood you would like for your commission which I don't have, I will do my best to obtain it for you, but there will be an additional charge for this. Soundboards are of well seasoned, first quality spruce. For some instruments I have also used cedar which makes excellent soundboards when carefully selected. The majority of my harps are made from sycamore but poplar, willow and lime are also used; sometimes other woods may also be available.
Every effort is made to ensure the stability of my timber stock. Some of the stock I have, has been sawn by myself straight from the tree. It is then left to season for some time before re-sawing to smaller dimensions and leaving to season once again ~ and so on until it is ready for use. The workshop is kept at a constant humidity level creating the perfect environment in which to keep wood and build instruments. This is the only way to eliminate or minimise movement in service of materials as different woods are hygroscopic to different degrees and season at different rates.
The usual finish for lutes and early guitars is best quality oil varnish, the application and drying time of which is time consuming ~ taking weeks rather than days to build up the necessary layers. However, some woods, or parts of instruments benefit from, and look better, when oiled alone. Wax is also used on some instruments (mainly harps) for the same reasons. When you order an instrument I will discuss the choice of woods and finishes at the outset to ensure you get what you want as well as what is right for the instrument in my opinion.
I usually make my own pegs. This enables me to be in control of the whole process and I therefore know exactly how long the peg billets have been seasoned before final shaping -- very important!
The prices shown for all instruments are intended as a guide including little or no decoration unless otherwise stated. All prices shown assume nylon stringing unless otherwise stated. Cases are available on request and prices will vary according to instrument.