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Old 05-17-2020, 04:45 PM
dennisczech dennisczech is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 159
Default Branwell guitars: a hidden English gem, Videos and pics added

Occasionally we come across an undiscovered delight in the world of custom guitars. I made a trip to South London today and spent some time with Nick Branwell. His workshop is in an incredible converted church hall, which he shares with his wife, who is an established sculptor.

He's been building for a few years now, and he makes a mix of classical and steel strings. I played a few different guitars, and the recent ones show clear signs of progress from his early student work. The quality of his workmanship is very high. Michael Watts has done some demos, which are on Nick's website: https://www.branwellguitars.co.uk/steel-string-guitars

I played a "505" larger model in cedar/walnut which was nice, but didn't grab my attention. He had an early version from his student days of his "Estuary" model which was a 24 1/4 inch scale and worked well in DADGAD despite the short scale. I enjoyed it, but found it lacked a little something, especially when compared to the one guitar he had which was truly outstanding.

This was a "Southfields" model, which is a slim-bodied OM, in Engelmann and Black Cherry. I can't say enough good things about this guitar, as a fingerstyle instrument it's really superb, and has all the qualities that I would look for: sweet and powerful trebles, super-responsive, excellent balance, plenty of depth and body to the tone, lyrically musical and expressive. It's one of those that you just don't want to put down, a very involving and refined instrument that seduces you into a relationship and steals your heart, calling out to you after you've left it behind...

We're talking high-end stuff: this guitar would easily sit alongside much more expensive instruments, and for 2500 I thought it was really well-priced. I am extremely picky when it comes to guitars, and this one is in the top bracket of the instruments that have really floated my boat.

It's great to come across a new builder who's producing such classy work, and as you might expect, is a thoroughly nice guy to spend half a day with. As I left, Nick said "this has been really good fun". Nice way to start breaking out of lockdown...

Last edited by dennisczech; 06-16-2020 at 10:20 AM.
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