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Radical new guitar design from local craftsman

Asinger/songwriter from Holt has recently launched his new business, Acoustic Guitar Innovation, which makes acoustic guitars with a difference.

Felix Byrne and his wife Jackie set up the business out of their home in Holt having wanted to make his own acoustic guitars for years.

Felix said, “It had to be genuinely innovative and made from sustainable materials – I’m very passionate about both of those things.

“I make my guitars in my garden workshop. They have a very low environmental impact, because I use off-the-shelf materials and reclaimed timber, which I refine. There’s very little waste.”

Felix doesn’t describe himself as a luthier (guitar maker). “I haven’t trained in a conventional way,” Felix said. “I approach things differently – I’m a product designer, that’s my professional background.

“You don’t have to use rare woods when there are perfectly good alternatives with lower environmental impact. Some of the waste generated by other guitar manufacturers, well, it just doesn’t make sense, it’s poor design. You don’t have to use traditional methods or designs because others do it, or because that’s the way things have always been done.”

Felix’s guitars have numerous innovative design features. “They’re very engineered, but not overly designed,” he adds. “People really like the way they sound and look, they’re comfortable to play and can easily be taken to pieces and put back together again – they can be great travel guitars. Normally travel guitars sound or look awful, the design is crude, because they’ve not been made from a designer’s point of view.

“I enjoy the design process just as much as making my guitars. Coming up with a new take on a traditional idea or using unexpected materials is challenging, but it satisfies my desire to be creative.

“As a product designer and a musician, I bring an original way of looking at guitar making. That’s what makes my business and my product unique. The guitar has undergone few major changes in its long history, but I’m happy to say the AGI design isn’t just change for the sake of change.

“My guitars are practical, yet innovative – and they have low environmental impact, which is key. We need to stop using rare and endangered materials when it comes to making acoustic guitars – we need to think outside the mahogany box.

“Acoustic guitars will always have massive appeal. As long as people still want to write songs and play music, either for their own enjoyment or live for the enjoyment of others, they’ll want to play acoustic guitars. Artists and musical styles come and go, but people have been playing acoustic guitars for hundreds of years.”   

Customers can buy Felix’s guitars ready made or to order (he also makes ukuleles). They can be bought in Hobgoblin Music in Bristol or via the AGI website (www.acous ticguitarinnovation.co.uk). They can also be seen and played at The Corner Gallery at the Tithe Barn Workshops in Bradford on Avon.

“Having spent three years carrying out research and development, I’m delighted with the product,” says Felix. “The big challenge now is to let many more people know about my guitars and get them to buy them.”