2017 courses now booking! Email or call for further info.
Thursday April 20th – Saturday May 20th 2017
Thursday May 25th – Saturday June 24th 2017
And… recent testimonials from my spring and Autumn 2015 and spring 2016 here in Llanidloes. ALL COURSE INFO BELOW TOO!
“Don’t really know where to start. You have provided me with an unforgettable, life enhancing month which is in itself priceless. Some might say I was foolhardy. I came with no woodworking skills and frankly, based on past experience, very little aptitude. All I could bring to the party was a love of guitars and an ambition to make one for myself. I can only really describe the last month as a “guided fantasy”. I had the fantasy and you were the guide who enabled my dream to became a reality. That you are hugely skilled is a given. What make the course work is your empathy, calmness and compassion, combined with a quiet but unrelenting insistence on excellence. That seems to me to be the recipe that made it possible for me to come home with the instrument of my dreams.” Paul, East Sussex 2016
“Thanks Richard, I’m still on Cloud 9 ! Thank You again for a wonderful experience and making sure we delivered on beautiful, looking and sounding instruments.” Paul, The Wirral 2015
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the most amazing month … The guitar I have just made with your guidance in your workshop in Llanidloes is stunning – I never imagined that the guitar I would take home would be as good as this. The tone from the Cedar and Walnut is beautiful, the presence and sustain amazing for its size, and it is so comfortable to sit with and play – I love it ! Matthew, Herts 2015
Your great knowledge of guitar making and the tonal and physical properties of different woods meant that I went home with my many questions answered. I had such fun learning about it all ! Russell, Surrey, 2105
Staying in Llanidloes was great fun too, what a friendly place ! So much music going on – gigs and open mic nights and folk sessions – amazing. Tasty organic lunches at the Great Oak Cafe, changing exhibitions in the arts centre, a huge choice of restaurants and twelve pubs too ! Very happy days.
Thank you so much for your patience, encouragement and expertise in helping me make my own guitar. I would recommend your course to everyone – it was brilliant ! Thank you.” Matthew, Hertfordshire
Always wanted to build your own guitar……?
This is guitar making course a once (or for some, twice!) in a lifetime, ‘no skills necessary’, full immersion experience. Whether building a beautiful guitar for yourself to enjoy as a one off or as a stepping stone to making more, it offers a practical and theoretical, hands-on-from-the-beginning approach. If you are completely new to it all or have some previous experience and want to hone your skills, I provide a course that fits everyone and with an end result to treasure!
There are many many stages to constructing a guitar and so the course will primarily focus on learning the craft processes and understanding the thought processes involved in achieving a top quality instrument. I include seminars to give you some context and history and a wider understanding of the craft, plus, there tends to be plenty of day to day discussion related to the work at hand.
It is becoming a truly international course with people having travelled thus far from Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, France and Puerto Rico. Also many are returning to build a second guitar - a different model, sometimes their own shape with different woods, decoration etc.
You will make a steel-string acoustic guitar of my own design choosing between my four models. I will be adding a Dreadnought option for the first courses in Wales. I provide all the materials but limit the options available as it gives me better control of stock and its readiness to use as people can sometimes book on quite near to the course start date. If you come back a second time as quite a few have then I broaden the choice of species as well as include the option highly figured timber which can sometimes be more difficult to work.
All woods are of a quality that I would be happy to use myself. I ask everyone to start with American Black Walnut or Indian Rosewood back and sides due to their ease of working as well as tonal properties. For tops, you can choose from Sitka Spruce or Western Red Cedar (Alpine Spruce depends on stock). I will advise on combinations. Necks are currently traditional Mahogany but I’ll be adding Maple/Sycamore as an option soon. I hope to broaden the options available for courses a little depending on availability and also hope to add some native alternatives into the mix in the near future.
A note on providing your own timber. I have years of experience in selecting timber. If you have a strong desire to provide your own then it is at your own risk and it will of course not be my responsibility if the materials end up defective, not dry enough, or lacking in the qualities I would usually seek for my style of build. We could end up starting from a place of compromise. Please talk it through with me if you have some ideas in this area.
You will have creative flexibility in terms of sound hole rosette design, head design, bindings (outer edging) and purflings (inner decorative edging) and an optional logo/design on the headstock. Time is always a factor and so what you can achieve will depend on how fast you work and how complex the decoration is. There is plenty of time during the course to thrash out all the finer points but it is good to come with some initial ideas.
You will use a combination of hand and small/medium size power tools all of which will be provided.
You will produce a satin lacquer finish with a technique that is achievable within the time frame. There are a couple of other options here which can be discussed once signed up
The course will run for 23 working days and roughly one month in total. The hours will be Monday to Friday 9 – 5.30 with an hour for lunch.
My previous experience
I have been making instruments since 1998 and along with setup work and later on, teaching, it has been my full time occupation since 2003. I have now overseen the building of over 60 instruments on my courses. As well as my own natural development as a maker over the years, I have been fortunate enough to work on many of the worlds most renowned hand made or small production guitars. I have also worked in the same building as well known maker Nick Benjamin for much of that time and so I have a broad perspective on the craft which in turn enriches the course experience. I teach three people at a time and my workshop is set up in such a way to accommodate this. Teaching three means I can give you the personal input needed to help you create a top quality instrument that I’m sure will exceed all your expectations. It is possible I may extend to four students in the future.
Your previous experience
You need no previous experience. Some knowledge of woodwork can be helpful but not essential.
A degree of patience, a willingness to listen and work hard and importantly, to be able to see up close whether with glasses, contacts or without. The course is long! You will be standing for much of the time so bear that in mind. I now run with whole weekends off and finish the day at 5.30pm to help keep energy levels up throughout the period.
Prices and payment
The course costs £3000 including all materials and a selection of machine heads. Other hardware, cases and expensive/decorative timbers can be purchased at extra cost.
I take a deposit of £500. This will be non-refundable. The remaining sum would need to be paid two weeks prior to the start of the course. I currently only accept cash, cheque or bank transfer.
I can provide some information on local accommodation for those who would need to stay for the duration. There are b and b’s in and out of town and hotels too. There are some very affordable out of season holiday lets. I can usually recommend rooms to rent in family homes to keep accommodation costs down. Options will change according to the season, ie camping/caravan will be available in summer.
Please see the travel page for details.
Please let me know if you are interested even if you can’t make the dates advertised. I can occasionally change a date to suit all or even run an extra course when demand is high. Please feel free to ask any questions about the course. Email or give me a ring.
For anyone wanting to make a traditional Spanish Guitar, please click here and visit my good friend Stephen Hill in Spain. He has been running wonderful courses for many years and it is from him that I got the one month ‘format’ for my own courses.