My personal reason for building musical instruments is a need to improve on genre. I have always had an interest in building guitars from a very early age – as young as 8 – and I enjoy sculpting wood. I feel that the two disciplines compliment each other in my instruments.
I always shape the necks by hand, even though it takes far longer to do it this way, and to do it right. The finger boards are also hand planed, as it enables me to obtain any radius, either requested by a client, or advised by me. By using this hand-built approach, every aspect of the instrument can be controlled, such as the overall shape of the neck – e.g. C shaped or V shaped – as well as the depth and width.
Since I first started building instruments, I have always tried to put my personality into them, and I have built quite a lot of quirky creations. Many people ask me to build instruments where the looks come first for them, but I still maintain a high level of build quality and always ensure that the playability is without equal.
This is true even when instruments are truly unique shapes, such as building them in the shape of the customers’ initials. The violin for Jane Burgess, in the JB shape, was the first time I went down this route. I think I came up with the idea because I like sculpture and the instruments then become not only incredibly tactile, they become almost like a personality in their own right. They also play brilliantly for a work of art!
I transferred the same ideology to guitar building, thus shaping two guitars into RWs for Robbie Williams. Admittedly it is quite tricky getting all the electronics into the correct place for the best tone in these instruments, but by using my knowledge gained from the pick-up placement on the Answer system I invented, the problem is also readily solved.
In short, if anyone has a weird and wonderful idea they would like incorporating into the shape of a musical instrument, if it is remotely possible, I am confident that I will be able to build it.
You’ll see some of nature’s best work on all my instruments. The availability of some wood can be in short supply.
All of the wood I use is of AAA grade quality. I have a stock of rare quality wood that is no longer available on the world market just waiting for you to pick for your bespoke guitar build. If you know what character of sound you want your instrument to have, then I can advise you as to what wood to use. Most of my instruments feature 3 or 4 different woods in the construction.
Violins are personally handcrafted by Doug to exacting requirements including customer choice of exotic woods, machine heads, pearl and abalone inlay work and freedom of choice for the shape. Classical users of these Wilkes electric violins include Miss Jane Burgess.
The electrics are provided via a built-in transducer in the bridge, which are supplied by Ashworth, the leaders in the field of electric violins.
In addition, the body shape can be carved in the customers initials such as Jane Burgess’ violin, personally sculpted into the shape of JB.
Pictured above are examples of the “Initials” range. Violins for Sharon Corr and Vanessa May are under construction.