I was born in Surrey England and music has been a big part of my life since early childhood. My father was a musical director in London, and together with his orchestra handled most of the big stage shows, therefore I was always exposed to music and musicians of the highest quality.

It was at this time that I first fell in love with the guitar, and remember pestering my parents to buy me one, which they duly did when I was about ten.

I made my first guitar in 1966, but it was not until I moved to Australia in 1972 and met Jason Waldron, the proprietor of the Adelaide Spanish guitar centre, that I started to take making seriously. Jason was looking for someone to make student model guitars and somehow I convinced him I was the man for the job.

During this period I had the opportunity to study the work of many of the world's finest guitar makers. Fleta, Hauser, Hernandez y Aguado, to name but three.

I was particularly inspired by the guitars of the late Ignacio Fleta, and spent some years studying his work.

When I come to make a classical guitar I aim to make an instrument that maintains the consistent qualities that characterise my guitars (Adequate volume along with great separation, balance, and clarity, with a full and rich sound.) This is important as I am varying my instruments to suit the specifications of each guitar player, which undoubtedly is one of the chief advantages of acquiring a hand made instrument. It is the way to get the guitar suited to you.

My guitars have often been compared to Fleta's and while I acknowledge the compliment, these days I do not copy them any more than any other maker's work. I believe all Luthiers share a debt to others for refining the design and establishing benchmarks that we all try to meet or exceed. I try to build the very best sounding and playing instrument I can, and look to learn from any luthier and player who has understood wood and sound.

I work alone in a small workshop at the back of my house in Mornington, Victoria, building instruments one at a time for the most part, and use traditional hand tools and finishes for a vast majority of the work. My years of experience and experimentation together with a commitment to working entirely by hand has given me a good understanding of what each piece of tone wood has to offer. Every piece of wood is unique and I search for the best out of each. This allows me to produce guitars that fulfil the individual potential of the woods, while offering to each player something which is both appealing and at the same time challenging.

I have made over 400 guitars this way, and each one leaves my shop with a very good pedigree - the best materials I can find and all I know goes into each and every one. My preference for handcrafting instruments stems from my admiration and study of the great makers. It has, however, been equally important for me to create instruments which will compliment current demands in taste and performance, both for the professional and enthusiast.

Howell Guitars Workshop