Gary Southwell (England) 2013GCC

POSTED ON 2017-05-04 15:17 | BY GCC

A passion for playing guitars at an early age, combined with a love of wood learnt from my father, a bespoke cabinet maker, led me to become a guitar maker.

During the years 1980-83, I studied at the London College of Furniture, under the wonderful Herbert Schwarz. The fact that many of the finest makers and repairers working around the world today were taught by him, or inspired by his and his students’ work, shows the extent of his influence. I believe the modern British guitar making scene would not be so vibrant today without his unique input, though he was too modest to say such a thing.

I had additional tutoring from Tony Smith, and on historical guitars, from Stephen Barber, whose fine work with Sandi Harris can be seen at

In 1983 I set up my own workshop in Nottingham specializing in 19th century guitars, the only maker specializing in this field at that time.

I have researched, and continue to research and document many instruments from around the world. I have worked on many public and private collections, including those at Edinburgh University, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Paris Conservatoire and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In 1991 I received a grant by the British Council to study guitars in Russia, and spent many fascinating weeks in Moscow and St Petersburg studying collections and talking to makers there at a time when Russia, or the USSR, was not easily accessible to the rest of the world.

I have worked with many leading guitarists who perform 19th century music. I have written articles and lectured about period guitars, and have acted as a consultant for other makers and collectors interested in this period.

I began to shift my focus to modern guitar making in 1992 with my own concert guitars and started developing my ‘A Series Guitar’ with David Starobin. I have been making Hauser guitars for Julian Bream since 1995, and I have been working closely with John Williams developing systems for amplifying nylon string guitars. Most of my work schedule is now taken up with making my A Series guitars, with occasional work on historical guitars and special commissions.

I have had the pleasure of making guitars for many wonderful musicians, including Julian Bream, Pat O’Brien, Leif Christensen and his wife Maria Kammerling, James Kline, Jacob Lindburg, Nigel North, Paul Simon, David Starobin, Sting, David Tanenbaum, Scott Tennant,John Williams, Danish Duo, Geoffrey Morris and Paul Simon. To name just a few of my more well-known clients. Such collaborations produce a fascinating exchange of ideas, which informs all of the guitars I produce.

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