Ron and Susan Wickersham founded Alembic in 1969 as a consulting firm that worked with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash & Young to improve the quality of their live sound and live recordings. After improving the technical aspects of the PA systems and live recording techniques, Alembic turned their attention to the electronics used in the guitars and basses the musicians were playing to further improve the live sound. Touring bands were experiencing was too much electrical interference and unreliability with their instruments. Ron Wickersham designed low impedance pickups to increase the bandwidth. This also made the pickups low output and so he had to design an active on-board preamp to boost the signal. These were the first guitars with active electronics.
Overwater Basses had its origins in a cellar workshop in Denmark Street, London in 1977 where Chris May and business partner Andy Preston made and repaired guitars and basses. Overwater was officially established in 1979 and soon an additional workshop was opened in Newcastle and then an Overwater factory near Alston. In the early years Overwater made guitars and basses, but by the mid 1980s it became best known for its innovative bass designs. Chris May and the original Overwater team then split from the Newcastle and London businesses to form a separate company. Overwater Basses is now located in Carlisle in the old Atlas Works, where the Overwater team continue to make innovative electric basses.
British luthier Pete Back made many guitars for British guitar heros such as Eric Clapton and Gary Moore. He started out in the mid 1970s finally retiring in 2009. Over nearly four decades Pete handcrafted custom electric, acoustic and classical guitars of the highest quality.
Kimbara is the brand name used on a series of n classical, steel strung, and electric guitars and basses made for UK instrument distributer Fletcher, Coppock and Newman (FCN) Music. The brand name was first registered on the 2nd of January 1968 and the guitar production involved FCN Music commissioning guitars from various different factories across the Far East. Initially guitars were produced in Japan, then in the late 1980s guitars were sourced from Korea, and in the late 1990s instrument production moved to factories in China. The price of a Kimbara guitar puts it in the 'budget' range of guitars (The 8/Y model was available from 1977-1990 and its last UK RRP was £186.00). But they were nonetheless attractively designed, well made, and had surprisingly good tone for the price. In 2012 FCN ceased trading.
Philippe Dubreuille started making guitars in the early 1980s. Dubreuille grew up in Paris then Geneva, he made his first guitar to replace his own lost instrument. He began making guitars for his friends and ended up working in a Geneva guitar repair shop. After working in a Portugese guitar factory for a while he ended up in London, where he has a workshop in Denmark Street.
Gordon Whitham and John Smith founded Gordon Smith Guitars in 1974 and it is the longest running UK guitar maker.
In 2015 Auden aquired the Gordon Smith Guitars brand, when John Smith retired and it continues to trade as a stand alone business producing hand crafted British built electric guitars. John Smith spent his final year with the company helping to set up the processes in Auden's workshop and ensure that the Northhampton made instruments carried on the GSG tradition.
Kramer was founded in 1976. It is best known for electric solidbody guitars (played by Edward Van Halen). The Kramer company went bankrupt in 1990, was revived in 1995 and acquired by Gibson in 1996. The current Kramer line includes electrics, acoustics and gear, made overseas since 1998 and sold though MusicYo.
Gus guitars are a small UK electric guitar and bass brand. The styling on their instruments is refreshingly unique .Current models use a 3mm thick carbon fibre skin over a solid red western cedar wood core, for both the body and neck. The body is also surrounded by a decorative curving chromed pipe. All models are made to custom order, so there are a wealth of options available.
Almost every part of a Gus guitar or bass is made by hand in their workshop. So bridge, pickups, truss rod and control knobs are all completely unique.
TA FENG LONG ENTERPISE CO., LTD. was established in Taiwan by Apollo C.H. Hsu in 1970 as an exporter of musical instruments, hardware, machine tools, suitcases, luggages, stationery and sporting goods. Mr. Hsu opened his first factory (TAFENGLONG ENT. CO., LTD) in 1977 in Taiping, which made percussion instruments. In 1985 to meet growing demand he opened a second factory, MAXTONE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MFG. CO., LTD. The company also has manufacturing facilities in China - with the TIANJIN CHANG YANG MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS CO., LTD opened in 2005.
Chris Larkin has been handbuilding instruments since 1977, going full time in 1984. He works alone in his workshop on the west coast of Ireland. He makes a limited of master grade instruments each year almost all of which are exported.
Kari Nieminen gained a degree in industrial design in 1989 in Helsinki, Finland. As part of his course work he developed a series of experimental acoustic guitars. Nieminen founded Versoul in 1994 and was awarded Finnish Industrial Designer of The Year in 1998. Versoul specialises in the design and construction of high end string instruments. The product range broadened from two acoustic models in 1995, to 19 production models in 2008. By 2017 Versoul was offering electric, acoustic, classical, bass and resonator guitars as well as sitars and amplifiers.
Johnny Mørch began making electric guitars in 1972 - alongside his father Arne Mørch. To increase productivity, Mørch subcontracted the bodies to a carpener and the spray finishing to a painter, but did final assembly and setup himself. In the mid 1970s Mørch colaborated with the guitarist Thomas Puggård Muller to design the Mørch “curl” models (with a scroll top horn like an F-style mandolin) which were included in the Danish Design Index to worldwide acclaim. Mørch now sells direct to the customer and all instruments & pickups are handmade in Mørch’s workshop.