British Boutique Guitar Festival: My Experience of the Weekend!
Last weekend I went to the British Boutique Guitar Festival, hosted by the lovely Mike from CGS. The show was a display of British builders of guitars, amps and pedals and everything in between. I hung around and spoke to some people and also played a few guitars (a few builders brought some left-handed models). Had a great time and met some amazing people. I thought I would write up my experience with the show and also talk about the builder and exhibitors that I met and their products.
Below is a list of the builder and exhibitors and some notes on each one and also their socials and websites, please check them all out as they were all lovely people. Unfortunately, I didn’t film much but there were some YouTubers and they filmed every product, so I will put their videos in this article so you can check them out.
How was the British Boutique Guitar Festival?
The British Boutique Guitar Festival was amazing, It was great seeing so many builders and so many different guitars and how each builder builds different guitars! Was interesting seeing everyone’s choices and what would they go for, hardware, shape and colour choice even wood and building techniques.
I got to meet some amazing people there as well. As well as all the builders there were also some reviewers and YouTubers there. Henning Pauly from “Eytschpi42” was there as well as Leigh Fuge, Hop Pole Studios, Tom from Elevated Jam Tracks and China Guitar Sceptic (Who was also hosting the event). They were all so welcoming and friendly and a great laugh to be around.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the first day (Friday), however, I was there for Saturday and Sunday and got to speak to various builders, check out some amazing Guitars, Amps and pedals. If you were showing on the first day and I have missed you please get in touch for a chat and I can update the article!
British Boutique Guitar Festival Builders and Their Products!
I met a lot of builders and people during the British Boutique Guitar Festival, Some stuff I got to play and some things I didn’t (dam left-handed people!) However, they were all amazing and super friendly so I have written up about them all and what they do and what I loved about each product! You will find videos or coverage of their products here as well as socials and websites if you want to find out more!
As there were a few exhibitors and the British Boutique Guitar Festival, below is a list of the builders and what they build so you can go straight to that section and read about them.
- Munson – Guitar Builder
- RD Amplification – Amp Builder
- Maybury Guitar – Guitar Builder
- TJS Guitars – Guitar Builder
- LT Custom Guitars – Guitar Builder
- CMG Guitars – Guitar Builder
- Zander Circuitry – Guitar/Bass Pedal Builder
- Magma Amplification – Amp Builder
- Greenheart Guitars – Guitar Builder
- Lighthouse Instruments – Guitar Builder
Munson guitars are a father and son boutique builder. Their guitars are a play on familiar shapes but with their twist! They have the “Tempest”, which is their take on the T style. They also have the “Marauder”, which is their take on the J style guitar. Super friendly and we had a long chat about everything guitars and building.
Their guitar comes loaded with Bareknuckle pickups and depending on the model you get various pickup selection controls. From standard, the Tempest body is made from Redwood Pine and the neck is made from hard maple. However, if you are after something different you can contact them.
The best bit about Munson Guitars? The owner is left-handed! This was so great to hear! They care and cater for a left-handed player so well. They cater to them so well that they offer a 5% discount for all left-handed Munson Guitars, No questions asked! So I would say if you are Left-handed and are looking for super high quality, well-made custom guitar, you should check out Munson Guitars!
Unfortunately, they didn’t have a left-handed Munson Guitar for me to play, however, we have spoken and when they next build a left-handed model I will be going to try it out. So I am excited to try that out and see how they perform and feel. Of course, there will be an article and videos if that happens!
I have spoken to Rob before and finally got round to meeting and trying out his Hand built amps. Rob is super friendly and extremely knowledgeable, he builds each one of his amps to order and there are several customisable options that you can have. He has one model (or should we say circuit) however, it can be altered to whatever someone needs. He can build it with different tubes, Transformer and output levels. As well as in different formats and looks (Combo, Head and Cab). All the footage and sounds from the event on Hennings or CGS channel is Rob’s amps! They sound amazing! I believe Tom from Elevated Jam Tracks also recorded some tracks using his amps (running into a Torpedo Capture with an IR, and it still sounded amazing).
He has also put a feature into the Heads of his amps (if you want it) that I can’t believe more companies don’t do. He has put an 8-inch speaker into the head and wired it in so that if you don’t have a cab connected the 8-inch speaker will take over and you can play through just the head. Great for home practice when you want to keep the volume and a reasonable level. I had a play through both his custom made cab and the 8-inch speaker and while they were different they both sounded amazing! I would happily play through the 8-inch speaker at home!
RD Amplification Continued
He also brought his Prototype Pre Amp pedal with him. He has built a pedal containing the full preamp circuit of his amps (Tubes and all), It is a full amp in pedal form (just without the power amp), So you could use it as a boost or overdrive into the front of your amp, or you could run it into the effect return of an amp (depending on what kind of Effects loop you have).
I got a chance to play it into an Engl Amp with a CMG guitar. It sounded incredible, with a huge variety of tones and uses! I am also trying to get hold of one so I can run it into an interface with a cab sim and see what sounds I can get out of it there! As I mentioned these are only Prototypes, however, if you are interested in the pedal I highly recommend you get in touch and enquire about it!
As we have said, if you are after a certain style, wattage and format you should get in touch with Rob, He will do almost everything to help you out with your build. You pick the colour, the format and even the speaker that you want in it. If you have something in mind, drop him a message and he will help you out! He is super friendly and knowledgeable!
Maybury Guitars is a builder who was drawing influence from various classic shapes but putting his twist on them! This is great to see because it allows you to play something that feels familiar but also has a slight twist about it. My favourite of all the shapes that he does is his “Offset” design. Which is based on a T-Style shape but has been, well, Offset. He had one at the show with a Purl poplar top with a custom set of pickups in and it looks incredible! A real looker of a guitar!
With the many guitars he brought along, there was a left-handed model that he brought. It was his take on the classic T shape but with a few twists. It was made from Spalted Beechwood with a natural finish, and it looked and played amazing. Pair this with the black hardware and the fact it was semi-hollow (Always a win in my books) and this was a cracking guitar! It was loaded with a pair of P90 pickups, which is always nice to see.
If you look at his builds he does some great designs and some amazing finishes! His pricing and build time is reasonable so if you are after a custom guitar and have something in mind it would be worth getting in touch with him.
TJS Custom Guitars
I spoke to these guys for ages about all things music and guitars and guitar building! They had some amazing guitars with, Building traditional shapes out of very, very nice woods! As well as doing some interesting things with Pickguard materials and also pickup configuration.
I think the highlight of the show for them is their 12 string electric T style guitar! This was amazing to look at. The wood for the body was stunning as well as the other woods! Being a right-handed model I couldn’t play it, however, it looks and felt amazing and well built! Something you don’t see too often is a 12 string T Style guitar.
They also showed me a guitar they built (Based on an S Style guitar) where they have done a wooden pickguard, however, they matched the grain and flame of the guard to the body. The body had a dark streak going through it and they replicated this with the pickguard. I was a huge fan of this, I thought the wooden pickguard looked good on the S Type guitar!
LT Custom Guitars
My good friend Lewis from LT Custom Guitars was displaying as well. Now, from other articles we have done you will know that Lewis are good friends and he has helped me out many times (and we have something in the works currently, an Article coming soon!). It is always good to see his guitars and also his designs!
LT Guitars can do almost anything you want in a guitar build, and being a left-handed player himself, it will be set up perfectly for any left-handed build, but also any right-handed model. As well as his fully custom shop, LT custom guitars also do a line of “production” guitars. These are standard models and shapes with a certain level of customising (So a semi-custom guitar kind of thing). Still built from scratch and by hand by Lewis himself.
He also bought one of his basses along that he has built based on his P1 model. Showing that if you are a bass player he can cater for you as well. So if you are after a custom bass please get in touch with Lewis and he will be happy to help.
However, there will be more on LT guitars very soon! Very, very soon! To keep up to date with this follow us both on Instagram!
I spoke to Chris a lot at the show and we spoke about many things in regards to guitars and building. He raised some great points like is there a difference between a hand-carved necked and a CNC neck base of a hand cared neck? Very interesting questions. His main model is the CMG1 which is a single cutaway. Which is made from a two-piece African Sapele and has a 5 piece laminated neck with a purple heart fretboard (I am a huge fan of the purple heart). The guitars looked amazing and the hardware and configuration are highly customisable to whatever you want. He had models there with two humbuckers and another with 3 single coils (Strat type loadout).
Chris also mentioned that he makes his tools, He made his Fret Wire bender, so he could bend the wire to the radius of the fretboard. I found this amazing and very creative and showed his Engineering side. While we were chatting about hits he also mentioned that he was open to using CNC machines and other forms of production to yield different results. Always good to hear a builder open to trying different things to get different results. Hearing about the ways that he goes about building and designing things was fascinating to hear and look at. The way he makes his tone and Volume knobs and his inlays, How he shapes his necks and all those kind of things.
I also loved that he has recently started experimenting with designing and making his pickups, and as we said earlier about him making his tools, he has also made his pickup winder! Of course, if you ordered one of his builds you could ask for any set of pickups in
He is also another left-handed player! (there were a few of these at the show, which was nice to see). Being a left-handed player he had built a few left-handed guitars, one of which he brought with him (It had sold and was one of his customers, but let him borrow it for the show). I of course jumped at the chance to play it and managed to plug it into a few amps. It sounded amazing and played even better! It had a nice neck feel and a great weight to it. We ran it through the RD Amplification Pre Amp pedal and it did everything from Clean chords, bluesy tones and even heavy drop tuning riffs. Great playing and sounding guitar! Pair this with the handmade wooden controls and it is a work of art! Hopefully, I get around to playing more of his guitars soon!
Now straight off the bat, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Alex as we were never both free at the same time the day Alex was there. However, I did have a look at his pedals and take a few notes and photos.
I loved the designs and look of his pedals and also what they can do, I loved the look and design of the “Duplo” pedal. It is his LoFi delay pedal. Containing 8 different tones, ranging from Analog to Multi-head delay. As well as Tap tempo and presets.
I do plan to get in touch with Alex and get some pedals in for a play and full review and I was impressed with what I saw at the show and would love to have a proper play with some.
As you all know, I love new and creative ideas. This was one of them! They are an amplification builder with a twist. Aimed at the home user! They didn’t want to create a black box of an amp, they feel this doesn’t go with anyone’s homes. So they created a lovely Birch covered amp. So that it blends in with your living room or bedroom decor.
The amp head is a lovely looking single channel 18w unit. With buckets of headroom and won’t break upon you. Staying clean throughout 90% of the volume. It is constructed out of wood and hand-assembled and soldered! A very nice looking amp that would go well in anyone’s Living room!
They create their Cabinets as which are unlike anything you would have seen. Wooden and very “homely” feeling. They are wired so you can run up to 4 in parallel, this allows you to have them spread around your house. You can also have them either open or closed back, depending on what your requirements are. However, my favourite bit is the changeable fabric clothes! Where a traditional amp has mesh over the front of the speaker, they have put fabric cloth and made it so it attaches to the cab using magnets, for a clean and simple look. Also allows you to swap out the colour of the cloth whenever you want. Allowing you to match it in with your room colour.
I spoke to Greenheart for a while and what he was doing and has done is very interesting and I’m excited to see what he brings out in the future. He is doing something I always love to see in the guitar community, He is doing something different and adventurous! He is a new and young builder who has built a few guitars and is keen to build more.
The first model that was there that I want to speak about is his 7 string acoustic! He custom made a full 7 string acoustic. The guitar had the thickest neck I have ever felt and is a 7 string it was so wide! I don’t play 7 strings at all so I panicked when I had a little strum on it (Being a right-handed model as well threw me even more). I don’t think I have ever seen a 7 string acoustic but it was something I am surprised hasn’t been done before (Correct me if I am wrong), I feel there is a good market for 7 string acoustics, having that low B in the bass could be interesting for songwriting.
He also had a T shape guitar that was wild! Not only did it look very nice (With a very nice Purple burst), but it also had a very wild pickup choice. It contained 5 Seymour Duncan pickups, 5 switches and a volume and tone, allowing for a total of something like 248 pickup options! He showed me the wiring and it was wild for the guitar! If that wasn’t crazy enough, it was also semi-hollow! A wild guitar, and would be perfect for a prog-rock or metal band!
The last builder I want to talk about at the British Boutique Guitar Festival is Lighthouse Instruments. Now, I didn’t get to see any of their guitars as sadly they were on Friday that I couldn’t make, however, Ben reached out to me after the show and sent me some information about their guitars and also some photos to use.
Ben is a young luthier based in Glasgow, he decided to take a risk and send himself back to school to learn the craft, after years of tinkering with his instruments. He finished his course during the lockdown in the UK and that gave him the idea for Lighthouse Instruments. The name came from how much music can give both enjoyment and solace and at the time of the lockdown, he thought guitars were guiding people to this, much as a lighthouse does to boats. I am a huge fan of the name and its meaning! 10/10 for the meaning!
He brought two guitars to the show with him! Both are from his first line called “The beacon”. It is a double cut carved top. Named after the device lighthouses use to warn ships. It invokes a sense of light and hope. It is similar to a famous carve top, however, he has made a few changes to improve it. He has made the waist of the guitar slimmer and has also extended the scale length to 25.5”.
He wanted to create a sister guitar, which would be the same but with a few differences. Handpicked two mirrored Ziricote fretboards from the same timber leaf. So both guitars have “the same” fretboard. The necks themselves are made from laminated Sapele, African Rosewood and either American maple or American black walnut to match their bodies. The idea here is that when you see the laminates from the end of the headstock or neck, the maple/walnut head plate runs into the maple/walnut laminates and will match the tops.
He also used Brass inlays on the headstock to imitate a lighthouse beacon and reflect the light. It is the same idea with the Inlay dot and the truss rod cover. Very clever and well-thought idea. One of the guitars (Carved top) is loaded with a low output, PAF style Humbucker made by No. 19 pickups. The drop-top has two (higher than average output) P90s and a single coil to retain strat-like spank and clarity, the idea being that it will sound like a fat strat kind of tone.
He takes create pride in his craftsman’s ships using a mixture of modern and traditional techniques to build his guitars! I must also say that I am very impressed with the look of his guitars and also the naming of everything and the attention to detail with his guitars and the meaning. Bravo! I hope to meet him at the next British Boutique Guitar Festival!
So that was everyone I either spoke to or have been in contact with at the British Boutique Guitar Festival! I had such a great and want to thank Mike for having me again, it was an amazing festival and well organised and all went so smoothly! Hopefully I get invited again to the next one and can bring you more coverage and write up about the exhibitors! Thanks to everyone I spoke to for taking the time to speak and sorry to those I couldn’t see on Friday or that I couldn’t speak to on the day. It was a very weekend! Hopefully, we will have some more articles from a few of these companies showing a few of their products off and giving them the beans in my style.
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