03 Feb Buying British Gear
So why don’t more of us buy British guitar and gear? Okay, we buy mainstream Marshall, Vox, Orange and Blackstar amps, which are ‘British’ brands, but most of these are made in the Far East, although they will be designed here. Same with Faith, Tanglewood, Manson, Fret-King and Shergold guitars. British companies with some or all offshore manufacturing in the main. But does that matter?
Take a look at our Gear Pages and you will see around 100 independent, boutique and niche electric, acoustic and bass guitar makers, amp makers and effects pedal makers. All make fantastic gear!
Ask any guitarist and they want US made guitars, which have the ‘mojo’ and for some anything not made there is, by default, rubbish, especially if it was made in the Far East.
What about UK (Gordon Smith), German (Duesenberg) and French (Vigier) guitars? Some quality stuff there, albeit in the UK case generally low volume custom stuff.
JJ Guitars Jewel Custom
Plenty of choice
Having looked around the guitar scene over a number of years or so and visited guitar shows in London, Birmingham and Bristol, it is great to see so many ‘British’ makers around. From acoustics to bass to electric you can find a great choice out there of British designed, British manufactured quality guitars. Not to mention amps (Victory) and effects (ThorpyFX).
Some admittedly are copies of the iconic US brands (then again everyone seems to copy Fender and Gibson), some are quite Ibanez ‘shred’ like but many are totally unique shapes and styles.
Take electrics; I particularly like Patrick James Eggle electrics in design and finish (the British PRS?) and guitars from companies like Crimson, Rob Williams (main pic above) and JJ Guitars are just gorgeous.
Some have unusual designs that are not to my taste (Flame Guitars come to mind, although I do admire them for being fully individual). But having said that they are all great guitars that are ‘bespoke’ and being British, they will be quite rare and unique. So why don’t more of us buy them?
Patrick James Eggle Macon SC
I can understand why more of us don’t buy British acoustics in great numbers as the only ones available that are made here (apart from Lowden/Sheeran now) are low volume, largely hand built bespoke guitars at huge prices; yes, they will be worth it in terms of sound, playability and beauty but if you are in the market for a UK built acoustic costing £500 – £1200 you’ll be looking for a long time! Sure, you could buy an Auden for the top end of this but these have parts made in China which are then assembled and finished here in the UK. High quality but not truly British…
Crimson PRO 136 in Aquamarine Burst Scion
Back to the electrics. You can get a decent UK built electric for £750 – £1000 from a number of makers including Gordon Smith (who have a new lease of life under new owners – Auden), but if you want a largely/fully hand-made solidly designed and built electric guitar that will last a lifetime then for around £2500 (or less) Crimson, Jaden Rose, JJ Guitars, Flame, Eternal, Gordon Smith, Patrick Eggle, Patrick James Eggle, Rob Williams and Vanquish will make and sell you one.
Gordon Smith GS Deluxe
Being low volume it will be unique and special to you. Is £2500 a lot? Not if you compare it to a US made Gibson, PRS or Fender. But there is the rub; these are made in the home of rock ‘n’ roll – the USA – and we all want their name on the headstock don’t we! Are they better? I would doubt it but that is all down to personal taste. Whilst some of the UK makers may equate to Morgan cars (and there is nothing wrong with that) many equate to Jaguar, Aston Martin or Bentley and these surely compete with the prestige car marques that we all want?
We have a good number of boutique classic amp makers here in the UK such as Victory, who produce some fantastic amps, Cornell, Rajani, Hylight and Hamstead Soundworks.
Effects are in and we have some great makers here including some innovative designers. Check out Effectrode, Cog Effects, Audio Kitchen, Fredric Effects, Green Carrot, Stone Deaf, Origin Effects and Zander Circuitry.
So, if you are in the market for a high-end guitar please check out the British boys (and girls) and support our manufacturers. And that goes for our amp, effects and accessory makers too.
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