I work alone hand building a variety of instruments beside the beach on the beautiful west coast of Ireland. I am in my fourth decade of guitar making and it is still the best job in the world. And, so far, I get paid to do it. Nothing could be better!
Working alone gives me total control over the process. I do everything from buying in the wood to packing the instruments for shipping and nothing leaves the workshop that I cannot be proud of. Each day I look forward to going to work and learn something more about my craft. The more I learn the more I know I have to learn. And there is no Holy Grail in guitarmaking, there are too many variables in hand making an instrument to be sure of anything. The traditional 'rules' are there to be tested. At this stage, working with wood has become largely intuitive for me.
I am a wood junkie always on the lookout for nice timber and over the years I have built up relationships with some top quality suppliers of wood from all over the world. I have some pieces that I hide from myself as I don't really want to use them! Apart from the normal tonewoods I like to experiment with lesser known timbers. In the last ten years I have been searching out and using as much Irish grown wood as possible. It is hard to source but worth the effort and some of the instruments to be found elsewhere on the site show that irish woods can produce instruments that look and sound as good as anything made from more exotic woods. In my opinion more people should try it.
In pursuit of the idea of using native woods in guitar making I am delighted to be a partner on the board of the Leonardo Guitar Research Project which is an EU sponsored group whose aim is to promote the use of non-tropical hardwood in guitar making by changing the attitudes of guitar players, luthiers, dealers and the press by showing that guitars made from non-tropical hardwoods are equally as good or better than those made from traditional materials which are now endagered species.
I produce a limited number of master grade instruments each year almost all of which are exported thanks to contacts made by exhibiting at the Frankfurt Musikmesse since 1985. Until now I have made more than 700 instruments. Naturally I use the finest available materials. My designs are original, practical and, I think, beautiful. My instruments are individual for individuals.
My wife Syra is a professional painter (seen below working on a portrait of Robbie Overson which was used for his album cover) and after years of makeshift workshops and studio space we finally designed and built our ideal workplace attached to our house in 1997. Syra has most of the upstairs with great natural light and wonderful views over the bays and mountains while I have the ground floor and an upstairs sprayroom. All of my areas are humidity controlled (40% RH) which gives me great confidence in dealing with the wood and the assurance that the possibilities of future climatic damage to instruments is limited to extreme conditions (which instruments should never be exposed to anyway!).