Andrew T Brown Luthier
Whilst studying at Leeds University I became interested in acoustic traditional music, particularly the dance music of Ireland. My own way into the music lay in the playing of the piano accordion, the latter has continued as my primary instrument. However, I was soon enchanted by the rich sound produced by groups made up of musicians playing on predominantly stringed instruments (e.g. Bouzouki, Mandola, Mandolin, Guitar and Violin). It was the sounds of such groups, particularly the early De Dannan recordings, which gave me the desire to make such instruments.
In 1978 I made my first instrument. It was an Appalachian dulcimer, made under the direction of Martin Banks (founder of Oakwood Instruments) on one of his Saturday morning courses run at a local school. After that year I changed jobs a few times and relocated to West Cumbria. My interest in traditional dance music remained as strong as ever, as did my desire to make some instruments. In 1984 I finally managed to create some time to make an Octave Mandola. I had no plans; just some dimensions taken from a musical instrument catalogue and a book by Donald Brosnac entitled ‘How to Make a Steel Strung Guitar’. For tools I used a basic DIY toolkit and a Black and Decker workmate. After some months I had completed a very playable Octave Mandola. This was the real beginning of my passion for making instruments.
Not long after making the Octave Mandola a friend recommended that I attend the short course in Making Musical Instruments at West Dean College near Chichester. This course runs every year (usually at Easter time) for a period of 9 days. Not long enough to complete anything other than a simple instrument, but long enough to get deep into the skills necessary for making successful instruments. I attended that course every year from 1989 to 2002. The course tutors are experienced, professional makers who share their passion for making with the students. Tutors and students are all residents within the College, where the workshops are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on each day of the course. The course is a total experience giving students the confidence that they can build an instrument; from a simple Clarsach (Celtic harp) to a complex instrument like the Hurdy Gurdy. Most families of wooden instruments (wind and strings) are covered on the course.
The Other Instruments page represents my time at West Dean.
I mainly concentrate on small bodied steel strung guitars, especially the tenor guitar, but I enjoy making stringed instruments in general. At the moment the mandolin family has my attention.
I would not consider myself a prolific maker but there are always instruments in progress.
To commission a tenor guitar, an instrument of the guitar/mandolin/ukulele family or possibly a custom instrument, then please leave details.
|Jack O Dandy|