Not just guitars…. build a bouzouki, guitar bouzouki, octave mandola, tenor mandola or carved mandolin.
2024 courses now booking! Email or call for further info. Book early to avoid disappointment!
April 17th – May 17th 2 places left
June 19th – July 19th 2 places left
September 25th – October 25th 1 place left
Course price is £3750 plus accommodation
And… recent photos and testimonials from my courses here in Llanidloes.
November course. Carved top octave mandola in Alpine spruce and Indian rosewood, a yew and cedar Dragonfly and a walnut and cedar Damselfy.
“I’m still so happy with my guitar! I’m still in love with it every time I play.” Cato, Netherlands 2018
“Well what can I say! It’s to explain in words alone what an incredible fun, creative experience it was building a guitar on Richard’s course. I can honestly say without hesitation that the guitar I built under his perfectionist guidance is up there and even better than the high end guitars that I’m lucky enough to own. I can’t believe that I have made a guitar that looks, plays, and sounds so good! You will never hear Richard say “that’s good enough” during the build, he makes sure you carve, shape and create to his impeccable high standards. I can’t express highly enough, if you want an incredible guitar and have a month to spare then do the course and you’ll probably leave with some new friends as well! Just to let you know the guitar is still awesome and the sound seems to get better as the weeks pass and I can’t put it down.” Adrian, Hants, UK 2018“The course has fulfilled a lifetime ambition, and I have to say, has exceeded my expectations significantly. Richard certainly “went the extra mile” to ensure that we all produced the best instrument possible without compromise, in terms of sound, looks and build quality. It was a hugely memorable moment when I heard the first sound from it after stringing it up and I have to say that my Red Kite guitar is just the best – ever !!. The sound is just fantastic. Part of me went into that guitar and that is something which cannot be bought at a guitar shop.
“Making a guitar in a month is quite an achievement, but getting three people of varying experience, all making different instruments, to do it in a month, is extraordinary. And each guitar looked and sounded brilliant and played wonderfully. Llanidloes is a lovely little town. Take a month off, raid your savings, and book now!’ Nick, London U.K. 2017
“Once again, thanks a million for this great experience over the last month. I leave with many lovely memories and an absolute stunner of a guitar. And….
Coming from zero experience with using hand tools and jumping straight into the deep end, under the ever watchful eye of Richard, was an absolutely wonderful experience. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second in endorsing this course. I’m already thinking about doing it again next year. Richard is a superb luthier, with a keen attention to detail and an affinity for biscuits! If your thinking about doing it, don’t hesitate. Just go for it. It’s the best decision I ever made.” Belden, Bahrain. 2017
“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, Netherlands, Bharain and Puerto Rico. Also many are returning to build a second instrument – a different model, sometimes their own shape with different woods, decoration etc or even a bouzouki or carved mandolin.
You will make a steel-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, mandola or bouzouki 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 water-based lacquer finish with a technique that is achievable within the time frame.
The course will run for 23 working days and roughly one month in total. The hours will be Monday to Friday 9am – 5.30/6pm 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 90 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.
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. We have the weekends off and finish the day at 5.30-6 pm.
Prices, payment and deposit.
The course costs £3750 (for bookings for 2024 onward) including all materials, and of course an amazing guitar that you have built yourself! Other hardware, cases, pickups and expensive/decorative timbers can be purchased at extra cost.
I take a deposit of £750. The remaining sum would need to be paid two weeks prior to the start of the course. I currently accept cash or bank transfer. I use Wise app for international customers.
Deposit and cancellation policy.
The deposit is non-refundable. If you would like to defer a place to a future course then it must be done before 24 weeks to the start date otherwise a new deposit will need to be paid on the same terms as above. If your booking is made less than 24 weeks to the start date then the deposit is non refundable and non transferable.
People book up to a year in advance and cancellations can have a huge effect on my business as they often mean that someone who was previosly available for a place on a waiting list can no longer fill it as the course is a big time commitment. I sometimes have to do additional paid advertising for cancelled places and offer the place at a reduced rate if it is cancelled close to the start date.
I can provide a list and some information on local accommodation for those who would need to stay for the duration and have some good options only available for my courses. There are also b and b’s in and out of town and hotels too. There are some very affordable out of season holiday lets. I can sometimes recommend rooms to rent in family homes to keep accommodation costs down and there are motorhome and camping options too. Prices for small private house lets range from around £800 – around £1300.
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.