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I suppose it is fair to say I was probably always going to be involved with guitars in some way

Making tea & sweeping the floor

I was always completely obsessed with music. My stepfather is Andy Manson, who is somewhat of a legend in the acoustic guitar building world. I grew up as a kid surrounded by sawdust, guitars and musicians. This progressed to helping out one day a week in Andy’s workshop while I was at college. Making tea and sweeping the floor, generally just soaking up the atmosphere.

While I loved the acoustic guitars, and seeing how they were built, I became enamoured with the sound of electric guitars. I started playing a bit myself, jamming along to Nirvana and such like, trying to just make as much noise as possible, and fell in love with guitars.

My Mission

I started working full time at Andy’s brother and electric guitar maker Hugh Manson‘s retail shop, the now world-famous Manson’s guitar shop when I was 18 years old back in 1997. I worked there for 12 years, 8 of which as the manager.

Whilst at the shop, I made it my mission to learn everything I possibly could about guitars. About the history, the models, the players and of course the builders. Working at Manson’s has been so valuable to me as a guitar maker. I worked with some fantastic people, and got to meet so many guitar players over the years. I really felt like I was understanding what people are searching for in their guitars, and I built some great relationships with many of my customers.

Rock History

I was able to see and regularly play an incredible array of instruments. Genuine first hand experience of legendary guitars such as 57/58/59 Les Paul’s, 50’s and 60’s Strats and Teles, not to mention a few pieces of rock history including Jimmy Pages Les Paul’s and the stairway double neck; John Paul Jones’ collection of multi string monsters; the futuristic Manson Muse/Matt Bellamy guitars; and a whole host of other classic guitars. I always felt really lucky to have access to these instruments, it played a huge part in formulating in my mind what makes a great guitar.

I built my first guitar in 2004. Along with my friend and fellow guitar maker Tim Stark (now head luthier at Manson’s guitar works) we started building guitars together on our days off from the shop. The first one, it was a good guitar, a tele copy, but I knew I could do better. So it was followed up very quickly by another, then another. Before I knew it, I was hooked.

Led Zeppelin

I worked with both Andy and Hugh through this time, learning as much as I could. I started building custom spec guitars for customers under my own name and gradually developing my skills.

From 2000 onwards, I also periodically worked as a touring technician. I’ve been on several tours with John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin, Them Crooked Vultures). He is an incredible musician, great guy and a true professional.

The opportunity to work so intimately with John, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Jason Bonham at the Led Zeppelin reunion rehearsals and the 02 show was honestly one of the highlights of my life. It was an amazing experience to work with these legends, and the gig was a magical night.

Working with Muse

Another major chapter I immensely enjoyed, was working with Muse. We at Manson’s were lucky enough to be heavily involved with the band from the start of their career. Matt lived literally a stone's throw from my house in Exeter, Devon and we got to know each other through mutual friends, local gigs and me working in guitars.

The band are cool guys and were great to watch live, even in the really early days. We always did what we could to help them out with gear and repairs etc when they needed it. This developed into a very close relationship with Hugh, building many custom guitars for Matt Bellamy and us working together on lots of projects.

To watch some of your friends grow to become one of the biggest bands in the world was a really cool journey. The creativity that is captured in the guitars was very inspiring.

From Hugh and me delivering the first Delorean, to real world studios during the recording of Origin of Symmetry, right up until the launch of the MB1, I was proud to be part of Hugh and Adrian’s team.

Going Solo

In 2009, I left Manson’s to concentrate full time on my own guitars. From then, I shared a workshop with my step-father Andy Manson in Portugal, until I moved to Cornwall in 2018 and set up my new workshop. I feel so grateful to have been able to work with Andy so closely, to watch him work is so inspiring. I have learned the appreciation of the finest details, the subtlety of a flowing line, the balance of simplicity and elegance. His work is so graceful, I hope I have incorporated some of that grace in my guitars.

My guitars are a culmination of many small details, with the aim of incorporating both beauty and functionality at every stage, and delivering the highest quality construction and components throughout. I believe my education through these life experiences has given me a deep understanding of what makes a really special guitar. Whatever the unquantifiable magic is, I hear it and feel it.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my guitars with you and hopefully inspire some magic in you as a player.

what's happening now

After an up tick of interest in my work during the pandemic, I had to close my order book due to overwhelming demand and ever longer waiting lists.
In 2022, for the first time, I worked with a small production team to build two standard Shoreline models that were available through our selected dealers. We received award-winning reviews all round, and it was a fun and inspiring project that has encouraged me to continue working with a very small and dedicated team here in Cornwall.

Working as part of the team with my colleagues is both creatively inspiring and personally satisfying, and ensures we are able to continue to deliver some of the finest heirloom quality guitars, each one being built with love.

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