A mate of Doug’s calls in and asks him if he can adjust the neck a bit. Without question Doug grabs the rasp file and starts the job. The customer’s attention has been grabbed…. Job overseen by Billy, the workshop beast who’s a lovely dog.
Doug started building guitars in 1972 and soon expanded to a factory in Bottleslow Street, Hanley, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. It was in the 70s and 80s that Doug quickly made a name for himself as one of the best guitar builders in the UK and he had orders coming from all over the world. Dave Gilmour, Stev Vai, Sting, Wang Chung. Even Big Country’s unique guitar sound has much to do with Doug’s patented sliding pick up system called The Answer.
Today Doug takes great pleasure by offering a more personal service to customers from his workshop. Whatever you want, you can have.
On this page you can see a few pictures from the 1970s and 1980s when Doug had the largest independent guitar making factory in the UK.
Here are some great pictures taken recently from an original Strat style Answer guitar built approximately 30 years ago. It’s still in fantastic condition and plays great.
Neil Hulse, owner of many a Doug Wilkes, featured one of his guitars for a photographic session.
“Seemed a shame dunking my Steve Lukather inspired Doug Wilkes built Strat just for a fun studio pic, had to be done tho..” Neil Hulse.
David Fahey commissioned Doug to build him a version of the famous Rex Bogue Double Rainbow twin neck guitar.
Doug has used some beautiful wood to create the guitar and has taken inspiration from the Double Rainbow, but used his 40 years of experience to make it the ultimate twin.
Rex Bogue Double Rainbow
1951 – 1996
“Rex burned brightly for a little while,” says Bill Hoting, “and influenced a lot of people,” California luthier Larel Rexford Bogue was associated with one of the most distinctive guitars of recent decades, John McLaughlin’s Double Rainbow 6/12 doubleneck. Rex died last February 8.
Hoting was Bogue’s best friend. “We went to school in San Gabriel and played in bands,” Bill says. “We played with the Mothers of Invention. Zappa was a big influence on Rex,” While enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Bill explains,”Rex started messing with lasers. We did laser shows before anyone really got into it. He was way ahead of the mainstream electronically, but he wanted to build guitars. He put in op-amps with battery power supplies before anyone else. He approached John McLaughlin in about 1972 and said,”You’re the greatest player I’ve ever heard. Let me make you a guitar.”
McLaughlin proposed a doubleneck. At the time Rex was apprenticing in Ren Ferguson’s Venice Beach shop. “I built that guitar,” explains Ferguson. “Rex did the electronics. He would dream up fantasy stuff he made with parts from aerospace suppliers. He opened a shop, selling gadgets and pickups that would do everything but fly across the room. He had many ideas, but the business side was lost on him. He’d get excited about manufacturing something, get investors, then get bored and move on.”
Santa Monica repairman/builder Larry Brown shared a shop with Ferguson and also worked on the Double Rainbow. “That thing weighed about 35 pounds and took two years to complete,” he remembers. “I fretted the necks. When Rex got paid for it, he bought a lot rum; he was a connoisseur.” In a 1975 GP story, McLaughlin himself called Bogue’s workmanship “impeccable, flawless.” Rex also did electronic work for Alphonso Johnson and Jorge Strunz, sold preamps under the Balz Deluxe and Balz Galore names, and built instruments for Frank Zappa and Miroslav Vitous. In recent years he was something of a recluse. “He had many health problems related to his diabetes,” says Hoting. “They finally got the better of him. He’s at peace now, in a better place.
Finally finished the twin neck, headless left handed, through necks in rock maple with poplar sides. Took a while but hand built does