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My interest in the classical guitar was first as a player, but the challenge of working with wood lured me away from my career in physics and engineering working with high-power laser systems. I studied Musical Instrument Technology at the London Guildhall University (formerly the London College of Furniture) under David Whiteman, and then specialised in classical guitar making at Newark College with Roy Courtnall and Tony Johnson.

I have been making guitars since 2001, and I now teach the classical guitar making degree course two days a week at Newark College in Nottinghamshire.

The Guitars

The guitars I build are sensitive to the touch, and allow the player to express their own musicality, and not be dominated by the character of the guitar or the luthier. I always aim to make guitars that I would be happy to own and play myself.

Built mainly in the Spanish tradition, my guitars are light and responsive, with good clarity and separation. The balance between bass and treble strings is good, the guitars are warm tonally, but allow the player to produce a brighter tone when required. There is a good balance between the fundamental note and the overtones, producing a sustain with a smooth decay.


Ease of playing is an important consideration, and is achieved by attention to detail in shaping the neck, finishing the fingerboard and frets, and accurate setting of the action, which can be specified to meet the needs of the individual player. Standard scale length is 650mm, but shorter (and longer) scale lengths can be specified.


The visual aspect of my guitars is relatively simple, allowing the grain and colour of the particular woods used to determine the visual impact of the guitar. Traditional finishes are used, either French polish or Danish oil, which enhance the natural beauty of the wood, without compromising the tone.


Top quality European spruce is normally used for the soundboard, although western red cedar is an option. A wide variety of tonewoods are available for the back and sides. I now also offer guitars made without using any tropical hardwoods (see images of my 100th guitar here).


My bridges use a twelve hole tie-block as standard, and incorporate a graphite-epoxy re-inforcing bar to improve the stability of the neck, without adding any weight, or changing the external appearance. Soundports, armrests, radiussed fingerboards, 20th frets, pickup/pre-amp systems and adjustable necks can be specified on any of my guitars.

  • all extracted from James Lister web site.

The latest guitar sent to me by James evidences a supreme clarity and musically expressive voice.  A traditional English build, the workmanship is as clean as you could wish,  traditionally built, a guitar that can allow your maximum expression and grow with you.

Please see our Listings from James Lister here