I have been repairing electric, acoustic and bass guitars for nearly 30 years. Many of the skills developed and perfected during this time are what make Hartley Bespoke possible.
I started playing the guitar aged 12, having previously studied violin up to Grade 5. My first guitar was a “Barnes and Mullins Classico” nylon strung model. I wanted an electric, but this didn’t meet with parental approval! So there I was trying to play rock songs and blues on my classical – it took another 2 years to get my hands on my first electric – the mighty “Hondo II” single pickup, plywood bodied Les Paul copy (about £70 I think!) After another 2 years, I started working on Saturdays at a local music shop, and was able to trade in my Hondo for an Aria Pro II three pickup solid body, not that dissimilar in design to a Les Paul Custom – it was finished in a green sunburst! I thought this was the dream come true, until a friend at school got a real Gibson. Since then I have owned quite a few guitars (Ibanez, Fender, Gibson, Martin etc) as I’m sure many visiting this site will also have.
After a short flirtation with university, I left to pursue music as a career. This took the form of teaching guitar, some guitar repair work, playing in a couple of bands, and recording (in a small studio owned by my friend D). After a few years of this, I landed a job in another local music shop, where I started to concentrate more time on developing my guitar repair skills. After quite a few (15 I think) years, I realised that I would be able to set up my own repair business, and concentrate on what I could offer other musicians.
That was nearly 15 years ago, and during that time I have developed many improved methods of repair, especially fret work, and intonation compensated nuts (the Funky Nut). I have built quite a few guitars commissioned by my customers, some of them coming back for a second instrument. With the launch of Hartley Bespoke, I am now concentrating on this side of my business, which I find to be a good outlet for my creative side.