UK based guitar makers

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Can anyone recommend a UK based acoustic builder? I'm looking to buy something with a bit more quality than I'm used to, around the £2500-£3000 (max) mark and wondered if there's any recommendations? I'm just browsing at the moment to weigh up options. So far Brook and Atkin seem very appealing. Any other makers that I should be aware of?
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 1226
    I own a Brook Taw. An interesting thing about it is that it's not very pretty or particularly ornamental. It just sounds great and is nice to play. So if you're looking for wow factor as a player, it might tick the boxes for you, or not. If you like a fat Lowden neck, for example, you might not like the thin Brook one. If you're looking for it to look special or expensive, it probably won't. 

    Lowden is also in the UK. They sound lovely too. 

    At last years guitar show in Birmingham, I played a Turnstone which really did it for me. 

    http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/125932/turnstone-at-the-guitar-show-2018#latest

    I'd love something like that one day...
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 4523
    Apart from the two you have mentioned above, I've played guitars from Moon, Fylde, Northworthy, Turnstone, and David Anthony Reid.

    Turnstone and David Anthony Reid were both absolutely stunning but probably outside of a £3k budget.

    The Moons I've played were very variable.  I played one dreadnought that is one of the best I've ever played, but I've played 4 or 5 others that were very underwhelming.

    Fylde have a good reputation, but I didn't love the ones I've played.

    I've only played one Northworthy, and that was very nice.

    If I was in the market at the moment I'd probably go Atkin or Brook.  A Brook would have to be a custom order though, as I can't get on with their normal neck profile and fingerboard radius.  They have a very flat radius and shallow neck as standard.
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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 21
    I agree about the Brook. They sound nice but the necks are far too skinny for me. I was underwhelmed with the Moon. I tried them both in the same shop and decided to look elsewhere. 

    Tom Waghorn in Bristol is another option. He’s such a nice guy. I tried on of his older builds, 10 years old I think. Spruce and walnut and it was superb. 

    never have I tried an Atkin but who’s heard a bad thing about them? Nobody 
    the Fourty Three looks incredible 
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  • mgawmgaw Frets: 2993
    Millman Guitars in Bideford,  basic looking, superb playing and sounding acoustics...check him out under the radar just now but great builder
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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 21
    Those Millman guitars look interesting. Very interesting. The pyramid bridge got me.
    Do you know the price point?
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  • LewyLewy Frets: 817
    Dave King does fine work.
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  • mgawmgaw Frets: 2993
    @Andy79 ; seeing him on Monday so will ask...great guitars though, I own a j45ish type guitar with a walnut back and sides, amazing sounding straight away.and has only got better..this guy can make guitars as good sounding as pretty much anyone IMO..i think they would be at the lower end of your budget though depending on woods etc.
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  • thermionicthermionic Frets: 5335
    Richard Meyrick in Abergavenny.
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  • KKJaleKKJale Frets: 763
    Kinkade Guitars in Bristol. Johnny's been making nearly 40 years and does some great models. Inside your budget too. 
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  • barry2tonebarry2tone Frets: 50
    edited January 13
    https://www.taranguitars.co.uk/therange/ 

    Prices above your limit, but worth checking pre-owned - unless your specs are very unusual.

    Think I last saw one on Acoustic Soundboard.
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 4523
    One other option is to go to the Guitar Show in Birmingham in February.  There will probably be some small builders there, and you can talk to them.  If you can wait to the autumn, I think the Olympia show in London is happening again this year.  There were probably 6 or 8 builders there, including Alister Atkin.
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  • The best guitar I’ve ever played? A Taran.
    https://www.taranguitars.co.uk/

    If I ever win the lottery, this is what I’ll buy (plus a feline lion cub). 
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  • AnchorboyAnchorboy Frets: 183
    Avalon Guitars
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  • Three years ago I was GAS 'ing for a J45 and after discounting a vintage one  as I'd just moved up North and didn't know any techs up here if a vintage one needed work. Therefore I was looking heavily towards the Atkin Banner inspired J45 'the '43'. After contacting them by e-mail Alister Atkin was kind enough to spend over an hour the next day talking on the phone about guitars. Learned a lot just talking to the man. They had one just finished in the workshop which I pulled the trigger on. Three years later it's probably the best acoustic I've ever owned. Very happy with it. Has all the feel, looks and sound of one made in Kalamazoo years ago but makes me happy that inside the soundhole the label says 'Handmade in the UK'  Just my perspective, from a happy owner. :)


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  • I would definitely try one of the Atkin guitars...Alister is really serious about developing authentic and great sounding guitars. His range is easy to understand and the sound is immense.
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  • icu81b4icu81b4 Frets: 12
    I was in Forsyth's music shop in Manchester not long back and wondered why they no longer stock Fylde guitars, the shop assistant (who has been there years) told me that Fylde don't need to send them any guitars because their order book has a backlog, he said it was a shame they don't have any because in his opinion they are the finest made guitars in the UK (they do stock Atkins though) .
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  • stevehsteveh Frets: 87
    icu81b4 said:
     because in his opinion they are the finest made guitars in the UK.
    haha; yeah, tell that to Ralph Bown, Stefan Sobell, Rory Dowling or Tom Sands. And a few others.

    I've had had instruments from all of those and three Fyldes over the years; only contest is price - Fyldes can be picked up pretty cheap relative to that lot. Don't get me wrong, Fylde are good guitars but "finest made guitars in the UK"?

    At the OPs max of 3K, I'd go looking used; it's a buyers market out there at the moment. If you're lucky, 3K will land you a sole luthier guitar that will blow away most from the small shop makers. I sold a Forster on here for just 1.5k last year (Nigel's gone to Australia so not "UK based" anymore), and a Taran for 2.5K a few years ago.
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  • stevehsteveh Frets: 87
    ...or head down to TAMCO in Brighton; Trevor has had a mental sale on and there are some serious guitars there for a fraction of their previous prices, and maybe some deals to be done as well. The Fischer and Beneteau are close to your budget; the padauk Benetau is a steal. Not UK, but sole luthier, built with care by someone who knows what he's doing.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 4760
    edited January 17
    I'd recommend not commissioning a guitar unless the maker has examples of that model available for you to try, and has made enough of them to be confident of consistency.

    The fewer guitars that a maker has built, the greater variation there will be between them. 

    Also, good acoustics in the price range you are in vary massively in the way they play, much more than electrics I think.
    I'd advise a visit to a shop that stocks a lot of brands. TAMCO would the the best, although he only stocks US made normally. Also Ivor Mairants, Coda

    Are you certain you want UK made?
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 4760
    Looking at your location, I'd say visit Frailers, Sounds Great

    for a USA one this would be excellent:
    https://www.dadsguitars.com/guitars-c1/acoustic-guitars-c5/pre-owned-c9/2007-bourgeois-country-boy-d-model-p123
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 4760
    For a UK maker, I'd say Avalon. They are the workshop and team that built all the Lowdens during their reputation-building phase. You could get a ferry over there and see what they have in stock

    I have 5 of them, that should tell you how highly I regard them
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  • MerrickMerrick Frets: 3
    Obviously it's about personal preference, style and technique, but if I was to pick out  favourite I'd go for McIlroy Guitars in Antrim. I've played a couple of their instruments and I was blown away with the quality and sound.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 4760
    Merrick said:
    Obviously it's about personal preference, style and technique, but if I was to pick out  favourite I'd go for McIlroy Guitars in Antrim. I've played a couple of their instruments and I was blown away with the quality and sound.
    He's another ex-Lowden builder
    They stock them at Sounds Great, drivable distance from OP.
    I was a little less impressed with 2 of them than I expected, I'd need to go again to see if that was a fluke or bad strings
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  • MerrickMerrick Frets: 3
    edited January 17

    We all experience something different when we pick up a guitar. Having that "moment" with an instrument can be influenced by so many factors. Dead strings, bad acoustics, etc, can have as negative an impact as when you're in a bad mood and can't seem to get your fingers to work properly. Everything sound s**t.. Conversely, you can still be buzzing from the previous nights gig, spare cash in your pocket and a hot women waiting for you. You could find a reason to buy every guitar in the shop! I've learned over the years to be patient, go back, try it again and then stand back listen to someone else play it before deciding. I hope to be adding a McIlroy to my arsenal in the coming months.


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  • Anyone heard of these? seem like nice guitars  http://www.lakestoneguitars.co.uk/guitars.html
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 4760
    edited January 17
    Merrick said:

    We all experience something different when we pick up a guitar. Having that "moment" with an instrument can be influenced by so many factors. Dead strings, bad acoustics, etc, can have as negative an impact as when you're in a bad mood and can't seem to get your fingers to work properly. Everything sound s**t.. Conversely, you can still be buzzing from the previous nights gig, spare cash in your pocket and a hot women waiting for you. You could find a reason to buy every guitar in the shop! I've learned over the years to be patient, go back, try it again and then stand back listen to someone else play it before deciding. I hope to be adding a McIlroy to my arsenal in the coming months.


    I slightly disagree, for most of us it's how it sounds to us when playing it that is the most important. It affects your playing so much, that any shortcomings in sound out the front are minor in effect, and usually can be fixed with EQ

    Also, everyone plays guitar completely differently, I play acoustic fingerstyle very loudly, and I've had people tell me "I've never heard my guitar sound like that before" when I try theirs. If they play softly, what use is it finding out that it responds well to me driving the soundboard really hard?

    My method in a shop is to try to calibrate the experience with more commonly seen guitars if they have them, or by bringing one of my own if possible
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  • MerrickMerrick Frets: 3

      I play acoustic fingerstyle very loudly, and I've had people tell me "I've never heard my guitar sound like that before"


    You and me both. Hard tension strings and builders hands. I was once paid an enormous compliment after a gig when one chap came up and said I was the reason he'd started learning to play fingerstyle. Ordinarily I'd have been thrilled at such a compliment but he followed up with "Yeah, If you can play guitar with fingers like that then anyone can!"

    Doesn't have quite the same ring to it.......

    I totally agree about making your own distinctive sound but I find it very helpful to get a sense of how the instrument projects by listening from in front. It's not too difficult to make allowances for other styles of attack. A good idea to take one of your own instruments along as a benchmark.

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