This week’s Spotlight on Luthiers really has to fall upon Crimson Guitars, since I will be going there next week to attend one of their 6-day guitar building courses (which will be fully documented here). Crimson Guitars is based in Dorset, and is the brainchild of master luthier Ben Crowe.
Ben has been making guitars for many years but has only recently built the company into a multi-person and multi-product business. As well as making custom guitars, they produce a nascent series of standard guitars, kits, and a range of luthier’s tools. They also have a range of luthier training courses, ranging from one day to several months, and they run a luthier’s guild for mutual advice and support. Finally, they produce a lot of videos (some freely available on YouTube, and others only for guild members) on various aspects of guitar-building. Most of these videos are presented by Ben himself, but some of the other luthiers also get in on the action (more or less willingly, it appears!).
The best place to look for all of this is on YouTube, on the Crimson Guitars channel, where there are loads of videos. I have watched an unhealthy number of them and so I already feel like a master luthier before I’ve built my first guitar! I bought one of their cigar box guitar kits as a birthday present for my son (you can see the build process on this website too), but he has done most of the work on that since it’s his guitar.
As for the guitars themselves, Crimson Guitars have a small number of their own designs, including a hugely complicated guitar for Robert Fripps. My favourite design is their PAF semi-hollow, and I’m hoping to be able to try one out next week. The “Master Built” series are built by Ben himself, and they are often quite experimental, using materials like copper leaf or different techniques.
The “Raw Series” is also worth a mention. These are guitars build using very striking and unusual woods, often with curious features such as knot holes, insect holes or bark. They are definitely not to everybody’s taste, but they are certainly unique instruments!
I will post more here about Crimson Guitars and my time with them over the next couple of weeks. Exciting times ahead!