I have been making guitars for over 20 years. I work on my own and produce a small number of instruments each year. I build at my own pace giving each instrument my full attention.
I build ukulele and guitars for players who appreciate a handcrafted instrument and want something more than off-the-shelf, factory built offerings.
Previously known as "Woodburn Guitars", I have rebranded to "Stuart Ketchin Guitars” and continue to craft handbuilt instruments from personally selected premium tone woods.
I didn't start out to be an instrument maker. I stumbled into it. It all started when I had a guitar built for me by Alan Marshall (now retired) at Northworthy Guitars. I left a disposable camera with him and, as the guitar was built, he took photos of the process. The photos stimulated my interest and a friend then mentioned a kit guitar advertised by Martin Guitars. That same weekend we were hosting Chris While and Julie Matthews for a local gig and I brought the subject up. Julie was very enthusiastic and encouraged me to go ahead with it. So Julie, it is all your fault!
I spoke to Alan Marshall and asked him if I was kidding myself that I could make a guitar. He thought I could and even supplied the wood. He pointed me towards a book and kindly offered his workshop if I needed specialist tools. Alan helped me through the build with many patient telephone teaching sessions. He freely gave his help, was always available and never complained. I will be forever grateful to him for his generosity and kindness. The completed guitar exceeded my expectations and Alan himself was surprised at my first efforts. Chris and Julie were also very complimentary and Julie asked me to make her one too. And that is how it all started. That was over 20 years ago and I have been building and learning ever since.
My customers have included Chris While and Julie Matthews, Seth Lakeman, Graham Breeze and Chris Leslie.
Wood is under stress. Wood moves. Wood is always moving in response to the humidity and temperature of a room.
As wood is worked and shaped internal stresses and tension are released and the wood moves. This is a fact of life. So after working it must rest because without care the maker may build the stress back in again.
Guitar makers work with thin plates of wood that are particularly prone to movement under humidity change. They glue components across the grain especially when bracing the top and back. I believe it is essential to make sure the wood is stable and at equilibrium before that gluing process takes place. So there must be no rush. After being dimensioned and worked the wood must be allowed to rest and equalise before any cross grain gluing commences. If the process is rushed, stress is added and instability can occur. I often build my necks months before they are used to allow them to settle before final assembly.
All my instruments are built at my own pace. I rarely have more than one under construction at any one time. I won't hurry a job. I believe in stress free building both for the maker and the instrument. It takes as long as it takes.