Meet the makers

Richard Durrant and Ian Chisholm

Some of the instruments Richard Durrant is taking with him on his current tour are made by two of the best Luthier’s currently working the UK. We find out more about their amazing instruments and their extraordinary work…

British musician-guitarist and luthier Gary Southwell is based in Hough-on-the-Hill in Lincolnshire. The the early part of Gary’s career focused on historical guitars, especially those of the early 19th century, a formative period for the modern day guitar. He researched instruments, worked in many collections throughout Europe, Russia and America, did restoration work and made many copies of significant historical guitars.

Gary Southwell

Gary Southwell

Gary Southwell started Southwell Guitars in 1983 and has since gone on to make guitars for an impressive list of distinguished musicians including Julian Bream, Sting and Paul Simon.

Richard Durrant plays a guitar created using Fenland black oak (also known as bog oak).  5,000 years ago a rise in sea level flooded the East Anglian Fenland basin which was then densely forested by gigantic oak trees. These spectacular trees eventually fell into the salty silt of what was once the forest floor where they have been preserved  until today. The dried timber is the rarest and most valuable of hardwoods with many unique and beautiful qualities. Not only does it look sensational, it has a density similar to rosewood and, most importantly to us, makes wonderful sounding guitars.

Richard Durrant plays a guitar created using Fenland black oak

Richard Durrant plays a guitar created using Fenland black oak

“The challenge, to myself, is to make instruments that are able to respond to the players every need. But more than that, to be a muse, an inspiration, to suggest new ideas and unlooked for possibilities to the musician. To be a true partner in the creation of wonderful music.”
Gary Southwell

Sussex Maker, Ian Chisholm has been making guitars for over 40 years. He started learning about lutherie – the art of stringed instrument making – in the 1970s when he took classes at the old College of Furniture taught by Tony Smith. He built a lute at a Morley College class and when he moved to Ditchling in Sussex he built his first classical guitar and soon built an archtop mandolin. As he says: ‘learning never stops’. Ian has just completed his first ukulele which Richard will be playing at the Premiere of Six Groves For The Ukulele on 10 September at Ropetackle Arts Centre.

Richard Durrant also plays two of Ian’s instruments; a celtic bouzouki – which he refers to as a long neck mandola, and the now almost legendary tenor guitar featuring a beautiful silver inlay of the ancient horse carved into the chalk at Uffington.

The work of Ian Chisholm

The work of Ian Chisholm

“My four string guitar has a magical, silvery sound that brings a new, almost folky dimension to each concert. Exploring Bach on metal strings played with a plectrum is a fascinating experience!”
Ian Chisholm

Hear these amazing instruments played by Richard Durrant in a concert near you.


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