QI

How many instruments do Fylde make each year?

Since Fylde stared in 1973, we have made over 9,000 instruments of all types.  That peaked in about 1980, and since then we have concentrated on a less stressful business model and smaller numbers of instruments. We stopped advertising in about 1998 and in 2005, we stopped supplying shops. We now concentrate on small numbers of direct sales to professional and serious amateur players all over the world. The overall production currently is about 100 instruments per year.

Are Fylde Instruments handmade?

Yes.

All guitar makers have lots of special equipment, it's the sort of job that cannot be done entirely with ordinary woodworking tools. I’ve been doing this a long time, so I have a lot of "toys", but the vast majority of the work here is by hand- chisels, spokeshaves, planes, scrapers and sandpaper. Around 95% of our time is "at the bench", far more than most other makers of similar size. I’ve tried just about every method at every stage, and I think I have it just right.

How much is Roger Bucknall involved in actual manufacture?

Most of my time is spent in the workshop, I insist on doing some of the jobs myself, and I am closely involved at every stage, but I couldn't do it without my "team", Alex and Paul in the workshop and Moira in the office. We each have specialities, so that each job is done to the best possible standards. Custom and Personal selection instruments spend a lot more time on my own bench.

Some of those jobs I can stop and start to fit around visitors and phone calls, other ones need absolute concentration and interruptions are deadly, so it is always a balancing act trying to fit the two things together.

Does Fylde undertake repair work on other makes?

Sorry, no. We simply don’t have time. In serious situations, I do try and offer advice, but only by email.

 

How do I become a guitar maker?

I get a lot of enquiries about this

There are three ways that I know of.

1 - The obvious one is go to college. In the UK, Newark, London, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow all have college courses. The downside is that they can only teach within the experience of the teachers, and at the end of the course you will be 50% trained, 10% experienced but 100% unemployed.

Generally, these courses should be regarded as a starter pack for self-employment, or perhaps as a repairer attached to a guitar shop. There are very few opportunities for employment as a guitar maker, and most established makers prefer to train their own staff.

2 - Don’t go to college but find a job with an existing maker or repairer. With the right grovelling attitude and something special or unusual to offer, it can happen. Having accommodation, personal issues, and finances sorted out beforehand helps a lot. Don’t expect to be taught everything about how to make a guitar - mostly, you will acquire just some of the skills, and gain some others by observation and listening.

3 - Teach yourself. There are lots of books and videos, and lots of old guitars to practice on. This approach is very slow and inefficient, but it works at your own pace and is a lovely hobby. As with college training, it might not help you obtain employment.

Employment opportunities at Fylde.

At the moment I have two staff plus myself, and I have no plans to take on extra help. From my point of view, previous experience or college training is a significant disadvantage, as it takes longer to un-train someone than to start from scratch. Woodwork skills can be very useful, but the most important ones by far are personality and attitude. Read all the comments in the previous section.

 

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