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How to Make a Guitar – A Visit to the Totnes School of Guitar Making

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  • How to Make a Guitar – A Visit to the Totnes School of Guitar Making

Its been over ten years since I’ve seen Phil Messer, the owner of the Totnes School of Guitar Making
As a result every bespectacled, skinny, nerdy-looking guy I see down Totnes High Street I’m smiling and greeting as if we’re long lost friends.
Hmmm.  Seem to be making a lot of new friends.

I eventually run into him taking his empty milk re-fill for a walk and straight away I know its going to be a fantastic couple of days getting some refresher skills and learning what he’s doing differently these days.  Phil is the one of the leading Luthiers in the UK and easily the leading guitar making tutor in the world.  I spent 6 months attending two of his courses in the early Noughties, which led me on a crazy new path in life that has been one helluva journey.

Amazing environment to work in.

I’ll let Phil tell you what goes on here:

“The Totnes School of Guitarmaking is the UK’s longest running independent luthiery school, establishing a reputation that has brought students from all over the world to the workshop in South Devon for the last 35 years.
We offer 12 week, full-time guitar making courses for up to five people at a time. Students each build their own instrument from the design, through all stages of construction, including inlay, set-up and finishing using traditional methods.

Almost any kind of guitar or related instrument can be built at the school. Whether building an instrument for the first time or fine tuning existing skills students are encouraged to aim for the highest quality of workmanship. Beautiful work and fine craftsmanship are regularly achieved.”

The best Luthier in the UK?

Back in the early 2000’s I spent 6 months attending the course twice.  I made two acoustics and a Les Paul. Everything here is made by hand, there is no machinery. The skills, precision and attitude that Phil taught me have worked they’re way into every aspect of my life.  But these past few days were a vital refresher for me, brushing up on my fret levelling while catching up on all the new tips and tricks that Phil has been using.  I headed back to Wales, invigorated and motivated.

This school is highly recommended for anybody who wants to learn how to make a guitar and possibly change your life in the process.

Contact me for fret levels and set-ups here.

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