My work has been inspired by studying instruments I have had in for repair from some of the great makers of this century such as Hauser, Fleta, Aguado, Santos Hernandez, Simplicio, Archangel Fernandez, Ramirez, Rubio and Jose Romanillos.
I aim for the highest standards of craftsmanship together with using the very best woods available for the construction of my instruments. Since 1986 I have made it my priority to invest in the best quality timbers and have travelled widely to sawmills in Germany, Switzerland, Holland and India to select them. As a result I have a very good stock of well
seasoned spruce, Indian and Brazilian rosewood, mahogany and ebony.
My classical guitars are based on the Hauser and Romanillos models .They are not intended as exact copies but follow similar patterns of form and construction. Although most of my instruments are built with Swiss spruce soundboards I also make instruments using western red cedar. In both models my main consideration is to produce an instrument with a clear balanced tone, good sustain and projection. I also want my instruments to be beautiful in design and decoration in the spirit of the wonderful guitars of Jose Romanillos. I therefore make up all my own rosettes and purflings using ebony, maple, satinwood and mahogany veneers.
My steel string acoustic guitars are similar in size to the Martin OO and OM models but of my own design. I use the same timbers as for the classical guitars including Indian or Rio rosewood for the back and sides with soundboards of Swiss spruce, sitka spruce or western red cedar.
BARTON GUITARS established 1986 in Addingham West Yorkshire.
I moved to West Yorkshire from London in 1979 and started making guitars in my spare time. The desire to make musical instrument making my full time occupation was realised when I was offered a place at the musical instrument workshop at West Dean in Sussex. Under the direction of Roger Rose I learned the traditional methods of instrument making to the highest standards. The workshop specialises in the making of early musical instruments, baroque lutes, guitars, viols, violins, cellos and basses. The West Dean Workshops have a well deserved reputation for producing superb instruments and apprentices are expected to work to professional standards.
SETTING UP IN YORKSHIRE.
In 1986 I returned to Addingham in West Yorkshire to set up my own workshop as a full time luthier making classical guitars. In 1987 I submitted three instruments for assessment by a distinguished panel of Luthiers, including Jose Romanillos, David Rubio and Stephen Gottlieb, for the biannual Crafts Council Awards for musical instrument makers. My application was successful and I received a grant to assist in the development of my work and inclusion on the Crafts Council Register of Makers. Since 1986 I have concentrated on making classical guitars but have also made a number of steel string acoustic guitars. I aim for the highest standards of craftsmanship and use some of the finest woods available to produce concert quality instruments.
Like many other luthiers I have a particular admiration for the work of Jose Romanillos. I first met him in 1986 at West Dean when he was invited to visit the workshop. He was very helpful to me when I first set up my own workshop, offering practical advice on my first instruments and selling me some seasoned soundboards. I have been fortunate to have seen at least twenty of his instruments over the past 14 years and have the greatest admiration for his work and art.
In September 1992 I was appointed an associate lecturer at the Leeds College of Music to teach classical guitar making as part of the musical instrument technology course. It is a two year course and provides an introduction to the traditional methods of acoustic guitar construction and stringed instrument repairs. Teaching two days per week , my own output was reduced from twelve to eight guitars per year. However the reduction in my own work was compensated for by the invaluable experience I gained through teaching and exchanging ideas with the students. In 1999 I left the college in order to concentrate on my own work and to complete more orders.
REPAIRING AND RESTORATION.
As a result of my initial training in making bowed instruments (viols) I have always carried out a certain amount of work on violin family instruments, including bow re-hairs, fitting bridges, pegs, fingerboards etc. Also more extensive restoration such as replacing bass bars, crack repairs and neck grafts.
I specialize in guitar repairs and enjoy the challenge of restoring an old instrument to playing condition. From the standard procedures of setting up instruments with new saddles and nuts, fretwork, re-frets, crack repairs and splinting, to replacing struts, fingerboards and bridges. I also refinish instruments in french polish or cellulose lacquer.
I have carried out repair work on many fine instruments including those belonging to Gordon Crosskey, John Mills, Royal Academy of music, Ray Ursell, Erling Moldrup, Graham Wade and many others.
I have built over 120 instruments supplying
customers in the UK, USA, Japan, Holland, Australia,
Denmark, Czech Republic and Germany.
Many are professional guitarists and teachers,
some concert performers.
Vladislav Blaha from the Czech Republic
has toured extensively in Europe and USA
playing one of my instruments since 1993.
The famous Russian composer and guitarist
Nikita Koshkin has also been playing one
of my guitars since April 2000.
The very popular folk singer Kate Rusby
has been playing one of my steel string guitars
since 1997 and has used it on all her recordings
and tours. This year she was nominated for the
very prestigious Mercury Awards and also won
best CD and folk singer of the year.
I am delighted she is playing one of my guitars.
The guitar is built in Rio rosewood with a sitka
spruce top and fitted with an L R Baggs dual
source amplification system.