About Colin James

Born in South London in 1956, I come from a family with a long tradition of woodworkers. My Grandfather was a carpenter and joiner as was my Father so it was a huge surprise to my family when I became a professional Squash player and coach during the seventies and eighties.

My interest in the guitar began back in the early 70’s when I heard Julian Bream and John Williams Vinyl LP ‘Together’ and discovered the legendary Andre Segovia whom I saw in concert at Fairfield Hall. I bought my first guitar, a cheap, Chinese plywood box that was about as playable as a piano with no keys.  I took guitar lessons with Terry Stuchfield-Denby until he moved to France. I then battled on the self-taught pathway, excelling in practicing my mistakes and playing over and over again with great enthusiasm, the sixteen opening bars of Albeniz’s’ Asturias. I’m pleased to say that my good friend and Maestro Paul Gregory has now been correcting my appalling playing techniques and there’s been a definite improvement.

I moved from Surrey to Sussex when I retired from squash and in 1986 I met and became friends with English guitarist and all round great guy Richard Durrant, who introduced me to guitar maker David Whiteman. A visit to David’s workshop sowed the seed of passion which has endured to this day and I realised that working with timber was definitely hereditary and in my blood. In the early nineties I bought a book called ‘Build Your Own Classical Guitar’ by Stanley Doubtfire and my Dad (Fred) and I enrolled at College to study guitar making. To watch Dad working with his tools was an inspiration and he took to Lutherie straight away, producing great guitars often from lower grade timbers one of which, I still play to this day. He also made a beautiful violin and after he passed away in 2016, we found in his workshop an envelope marked ‘For Colin’ inside were two sets of violin plans, one marked Stradivarius the other (his own drawings) marked ‘Fredivarius’. I still have this beautiful instrument but alas can still only play Happy Birthday on it which I learnt for his 85th birthday.

From 2012 I studied Lutherie under the tutelage of the esteemed Spanish Luthier Pablo Requena, now he has moved back to Spain, I have opened my own workshop in Lewes, East Sussex. My influences in building are from some of the most famous Luthiers including Bouchet, Houser, Torres, Ignacio, Francisco and Gabriel Fleta, José and Liam Romanillos, Ramírez, Reyes and Torres. Current builds are in the style of the famous 1937 Herman Hauser Sn. (With my own ‘tweaks’). As played by the celebrated Andalusian classical guitarist Andrés Segovia.

As a guitar maker, I am indebted to the many luthiers and guitarists who have given me advice, support and encouragement and I thank them wholeheartedly as I continue this wonderful journey.

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