We are on the radio!
BBC Radio 4
on Tuesday the 1st of May at 11:30 am

It will then be on iplayer for a month after to listen back.

Martin Simpson and Richard Hawley take a trip to Fylde Guitars in Penrith, where master luthier Roger Bucknall reveals the extraordinarily painstaking and creative labour of love involved in making an acoustic guitar.

On a tour of his workshop, Roger reveals not only a passion for instrument-making, but for the pure pleasure in working with wood. In the vast store of tonewood, we hear about the aural and decorative properties of centuries-old Claro Walnut, Bearclaw and the incredibly rare Snakewood. Roger reveals some of the fascinating and surprising stories behind his stock including the Giant Redwood, reclaimed from the Big River at Mendocino and the 2,000 year-old Alaskan Sitka Spruce windfall.

We’ll find out how Roger acquired some rare Brazilian Rosewood from the folk musician Mike Waterson, and crafted it into three guitars, one of which Hawley owns: ‘If anybody’s ever seen Harry Potter, then they’ll understand what the word Horcrux means’, he says. ‘Roger, you’re going to live forever with this ‘cause part of your soul, without doubt, went into this guitar’.

We discover the minute detail and precision employed here, with bespoke machinery and hand-made tools, from steam-bending and curfing to the hammering-in of frets with a hammer thought to have now made more than two million blows. ‘I have a deep passion for frets’, says Simpson. ‘It’s how we do what we do. They are beautiful things, and when they’re properly finished it makes all the difference in the world.’

And who knew bits of guitars and mandolins could be made from old snooker tables or whiskey barrels? Or why Rosewood is called Rosewood?

A unique insight into a popular and much-loved instrument and three friends' obsession with it - with stories, laughs and music along the way.

Fylde Guitars. Handmade English guitars, mandolins, bouzoukis and citterns ~ built in the Lake District by Roger Bucknall and a small team of master craftsmen. Instruments made by Roger and his team, have an unrivalled worldwide reputation for tone, playability, quality and style. Chosen by many of the world's leading musicians and serious amateurs ~ for over forty years.


Roger Bucknall is one of the most experienced and respected guitar makers alive in the world today. His client list is a who's who of professional musicians from every area of music, and his friendship with those musicians has produced iconic guitar designs that have helped to shape the guitar playing styles of the British Isles - and beyond.

In a purpose built workshop on the edge of the Lake District of Northern England, Roger and his team build the wide range of "Fylde" instruments, alongside a constant flow of special orders.

"Keep making inspirational instruments Roger that in turn inspires the many players who, like myself, are totally in awe of your craft." Gordon Giltrap

Hand built guitars

The number of instruments made is small, and they are only available directly from the workshop, (often with a long waiting list). A one to one relationship with the customer, whether they are professional or amateur, is the essence of the business.

Roger has been making guitars since he was nine years old. After qualifying as an engineer he studied musical acoustics and designed industrial tape recorders while refining his ideas in guitar construction. He played guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle in the local clubs where he met the professional musicians who were to become his customers and later his friends when he starting making “Fylde“ guitars in 1973.

Meet the team

Roger Bucknall MBE.

At Fylde we make guitars by hand, on the bench, with traditional tools. I work with a small team, we have excellent facilities, proven designs and unrivalled stocks of beautiful, seasoned timber, BUT the skills, and the attitude of the people I work with are the most important things of all. Alex Reay, Paul Ferrie and, of course, my wife Moira are my team. They are superb. They make everything possible, and nothing impossible.

In the 2016 NewYears Honours list, Roger was awarded the MBE – "Member of the British Empire", for "Services to Guitar Making, Music, and Heritage Crafts" He was nominated for this honour by a large number of musicians, friends, and colleagues. The ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace in May, where HRH Prince Charles made the award.

Alex Reay

Alex has been with me for 10 years. A lot of his work is in the final stages, which require long periods of concentration without interruption, so his patience and calm nature make it possible to get everything right.

My own work is largely on individual custom orders, neck shaping and final assembly, in between overseeing everything else and talking to customers.

Paul Ferrie

Paul has been here for 8 years, his work is largely in the earlier stages, where a lot of the precision woodwork will be hidden inside the guitar forever, so his pride in his work and attention to detail are invaluable.

Guitar making is hard physical work, and not at all romantic, the pleasure comes from a job well done, and seeing the final result in the hands of a satisfied customer.

Moira Bucknall

Moira will often be your first point of contact when you call. She runs the office and protects me from the outside world as much as she can, she also keeps everything organized and looks after customers so that I can continue working.

Initial enquiries are best by email. I enjoy the direct contact with customers, and potential customers are very welcome to visit, but It is very important to make an appointment first.