Shuker Bass & Guitars is situated in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire. An inspiring place to work and create. We make several models of Bass and Guitar, custom designs and signature models. Courses in guitar and bass making, also instrument maintenance. Services include repairs to all stringed instruments, Evertune installation and customisation.
I started learning to play guitar when I moved to Sheffield in 1988, I was studying engineering so I was inquisitive and interested how the instrument was constructed. I bought some mahogany from a local timber yard and some birdseye maple from a wood supplier in Buxton, a rosewood fingerboard blank and truss rod from a guy who worked in a Sheffield music shop and made a start. There were no resources to learn how to make a musical instrument, only a few books that covered the subject and there was no Internet then. I mostly had to work things out for myself, which I’ve always thought is the best way to learn, from your own mistakes rather than someone else’s.
I was living in a shared house in Sheffield and had no workspace so worked in my room, much to the annoyance of my housemates, who’s rooms slowly gained a layer of mahogany dust over the next few months. The first guitar I made was along the lines of a Les Paul double cutaway, came out rather well considering I only had an old pub table to work on and limited tools, a coping saw which I cut the neck a body with, 5 clamps, a chisel which I used to make the pickup cavities and truss rod channel, a drill and a gentleman’s saw for the fret slots and a hand plane. Luckily there was a chiropodist living in the house that made ‘custom’ insoles….. and he used a belt sander to create them, so I borrowed that to help carve the neck and other jobs.
Once completed I wanted to build another… so I slowly gathered tools together and made a bass this time with the use of a router. I moved into my own place and turned the attic into a workshop, adding a bandsaw and planer, luckily the neighbour used his attic for woodturning so noise wasn’t an issue. I spent the new few years developing a model, refining it and learning.
I was buying my wood from a specialist timber supplier and I was invited to go along with them to the Frankfurt Music show in Germany, a huge exhibition covering all aspects of music production. I jumped at the chance. I spent the next couple of months making six basses to exhibit, two 4 strings, two 5 strings and two 6 strings, a thru neck and bolt on of each format. The show went really well with lots of interest, so I was inspired to continue.
When I returned I visited a specialist bass shop in Mansfield woodhouse, it no longer exists but was then run by two chaps called Dave Shields and John Vanaman. They were impressed with the instruments and offered me wall space to promote them. From there it went from strength to strength, orders came in from their customers, I remember it mostly being six string basses then as there were not many on the market and certainly very few in the shops.
As the business grew I rented my first workshop in Sheffield. I introduced some different model designs as up to then most instruments I had built were custom designs, designed a website, started the building and maintenance courses, worked with J J Burnel to produce his signature basses and continued to promote the business at exhibitions in the UK and Germany.
20 years on and a couple of workshop relocations, now based in the heart of the Peak District for the past 12 years. The workshop produces several models of bass and guitar, runs a number of guitar and bass building courses a year for groups or individuals, we are preferred installers for the Evertune bridge, carry out all manner of repairs and customisation to all stringed instruments and provide component manufacture and parts to luthier suppliers and instrument manufacturers.