1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?
James Collins: After 15 years of working in the music business whilst regularly gigging, writing and recording music I came to a fork in the road and chose to up sticks and head to America to learn Lutherie at the Galloup School of Lutherie, Michigan. It was there that I fell in love with guitar repairing & making. Upon returning to the UK I setup 12th Fret a professional and dedicated repair workshop in East Sussex and after a few years of solid repair started to build acoustic & electric guitars.
2. G.E.: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?
J.C.: Hand crafted Quality. With 10 years bench experience to witness & draw from, the mass manufactures short cuts are very apparent yet understandable, we have the luxury to be able to always use the best quality woods, components and finish due to the limited number of production
3. G.E.: Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?
J.C.: We are conscious of the natural tonal properties and the marriage of our body, tops and fretboard and align those together to create a cohesive sustaining tone and we can utilize this to further enhance that marriage, as an example using a Cocobolo fretboard with a Redwood top over a mahogany body enhances all of their natural tonal qualities.
4. G.E.: Select one and talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop…or other.
J.C.: It’s not possible to differentiate, they are all One Genre…We listen to rock, blues, country and jazz in the workshop and all are possible with our 5 Way rotary selector!
5. G.E.: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?
J.C.: Lutherie has been my sole profession for over 10 years and we employ 1 other full-time employee and have 1 part-time.
6. G.E.: What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?
J.C.: Vinyl. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator. Sublime. Listening to it now, very distracting..
7. G.E.: Electric or acoustic?
8. G.E.: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?
J.C.: No secret, Mahogany every time, we cut our 1 piece necks in 2 and fit a matching fretboard wood as a stringer for tone & strength.
...AND TWO HANDS
9. G.E.: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by the large manufacturers?
J.C.: Every hand built guitar has a uniqueness that you can’t get with mass manufactured guitars. It is a journey for both the maker and owner, produces a story and has a revelance.
10. G.E.: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to have play your guitars?
J.C.: All levels of players, some are tone-chasers, some just admire beauty! Derek Trucks?
(+1). G.E.: What strings do you use and which amps do you most like for your guitars?
J.C.: Ernie Ball Power Slinkys. Barnett Davies 15/30 Amp. Hand Built.