I was born in 1962 in Malta of english parents. My family returned to England in 1965 and settled in Somerset in the south-west, where we lived until I'd finished school/college.
I was interested in music from quite an early age, due in part to natural inclination, and in part to growing up surrounded by it. My elder sisters( 3 of them) practising piano after school and my Father, who plays well by ear, often playing in the evening. When I was a small boy he managed the local provincial theatre in Street, Somerset and I had many opportunities to take part in amateur musical productions, as well as going to see professional ones.
photo: Mother Goose pantomime. (I'm the one to the right of the goose!)
Occasionally, quite famous names would turn up to perform at the theatre such as Barry Tuckwell (the legendary french horn player), Paco Peña and his flamenco troupe. Between the ages of 5 and 12 I saw many concerts, orchestral and jazz, soloists, operas, ballets, plays and films, often from the vantage point of one of the ushers' seats up in the balcony. Fuelled by these exciting early experiences at the theatre I developed a love of music, and music-making. I took up the trumpet at age ten ( actually I started at age 6, but then my front teeth came out) and played a variety of three-valved brass instruments before changing to trombone at thirteen, taking music examinations up to grade VIII. I spent a lot of time while I was growing up playing in wind bands, small brass ensembles etc., which was great fun. My interest in the classical guitar began as a young teenager hearing my parents' recordings by Julian Bream and John Williams. At that age, being an ardent brass player, I had absolutely no idea that one day I would take up the guitar, let alone make them. The sounds of Bream's and Williams' extraordinary playing stuck in my head though, and later, at the age of 19 when I found a guitar lying around in the house I was living in, I picked it up and started teaching myself to play - 30 years later, I'm still at it.
From1983-1985 I was student at Reigate School of Art (1983 to 1985) where I received a First for my diploma in the manuscript crafts of calligraphy and illumination. I spent a further year at City and Guilds of London Art School, Kennington, London, practising letter-carving, stone-carving and sculpture. After finishing art school I began to paint (fine art), while painting and decorating to earn a living. After a couple of years I got into more specialist work for a decorative artist in London who specialised in faux paint finishes, trompe-l'oeil and mural work, which was much in vogue in the 1980s. I was also painting and exhibiting my own work during this period.
In 1993 I decided to make myself a guitar to replace my crumby factory model after being inspired by the fine work of my friend Simon Ambridge. Simon was making in the Torres/Hauser tradition and he lent me an old mould of a 1943 Hauser to start me off. With some advice from Simon and after reading all the books I could find on the subject in Westminster Music Library I began work on my first guitar. Once I'd finished it I wanted to make a couple more, to improve on what I'd done. In 1995, after making several guitars in my spare time, I moved with my family to Lewes in East Sussex, and began guitar making professionally, initially sharing a workshop with fellow maker Stephen Hill. After about 18 months I moved into my own workshop. Ever since I have been making and restoring guitars. Making musical instruments has provided me with the ideal space for bringing together my talents and interests - music was my first love, studying/practising art and craft refined my eye and developed control in my hands, the skill I have in my hands being a natural gift.