Fylde Guitars is an English manufacturer of handmade fretted musical instruments.
The company was founded in 1973 by (until then amateur) luthier Roger Bucknall, and remains under his personal control. Originally located in The Fylde, in 1996 the workshop moved to the Lake District, and is today located in Penrith, Cumbria. The firm has four employees including Roger Bucknall.
Their products include high-quality acoustic guitars, classical guitars, acoustic bass guitars, mandolins, mandolas, bouzoukis and citterns, including some innovative designs. All their instruments are acoustic, with electric pickups as an option.
Roger Bucknall was born in Selly Oak, Birmingham in 1950, studied at Bounville Boys Technical School. He read for an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering at Nottingham University before working for Racal Thermionic in Hythe, Hamsphire, as a technical author, then mechanical designer for industrial tape recorders from 1971-73.
Fylde Guitars was formed in 1973. Moved to Fylde, Lancashire and now resides in Penrith, Cumbria.
His technical skills, love of folk music and fascination with stringed instruments led to his first success. “I helped run the folk club, and met everyone from those very early years of acoustic guitar. On one memorable night, I showed Gordon Giltrap a guitar. “Where did you get this?”. “I made it”. “Will you make me one?” Today, more than 9000 guitars later he numbers some of the world’s leading players as customers.
From 1981 To 1992 Bucknall indulged his engineering brain in the manufacture of snooker cues and case. He formed Barracuda Sports a company making cases out of aluminium extrusions and plastic mouldings, and cue parts from machined brass. Ray Reardon used one of Roger’s cues in the finals of the world championship, and the Sky Sports commentator Jim Wych still uses his. Steve Davis’s old cue was saved from disaster in a car crash because it was in one of Bucknall’s revolutionary cases, and Alex Higgins was often at the workshop. Bucknall sold the business in 1992 and relocated to Penrith to re-vitalise the instrument making business.
Today, Fylde Instruments can command high prices and all instruments are hand-made using traditional techniques, while using modern machinery for some of the operations.
Although there is a range of standard instruments that the business builds for customers most of Bucknall’s output is a one-off custom guitars. The business has been scaled down to accommodate this approach. Bucknall has two assistants to help create instruments for some of the world’s leading players.
Roger and his team work by hand, with unrivalled skills and experience and the very best of timber stocks and facilities, to produce fine acoustic instruments of the highest quality. Every guitar that is built by Fylde gets Roger's attention and around 99% of his work is by hand, and his team spend around 95% of their time at the bench, using the same traditional skills and techniques. Bucknall says, "It is easy to get the wrong impression about Fylde. This is a small business, myself and three other people helping. We make a very small number of instruments each year, with as much skill, care and love as we possibly can ~ by hand."
Technical, Innovation and Awards
Roger Bucknall has been credited with the original design of the "A frame" guitar bracing, and is an advocate of the zero fret principle on guitar fingerboards. All of his instruments have been developed in collaboration with professional players.
Roger is the only UK guitar maker to be awarded the Acoustic Guitar magazine Gold Award in 2000. He was filmed for the US NAMM oral history program and he is one of only two UK makers to be featured in the prestigious American publication Fretboard Journal, the other being his friend Stefan Sobell.
- Bucknall, Roger (2013). Wood Sweat and Tears. Fylde Guitars.
- Bucknall, Roger (2013). Wood Sweat and Tears.
- "Guitar man who put Fylde on the map". Blackpool Gazette.
- "Fylde Guitars". Living Tradition.
- "NAMM Oral History Program". NAMM.
- Warren, Brad (Fall 2007). "Industrail Revolution". Fretboard Journal. Issue 7.
- http://www.fyldeguitars.com Company home page
- BBC: Fylde Guitars' Roger Bucknall looks back at 40 years of acoustic adventures http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-25428665