David Alabaster

I am an an enthusiastic amateur musician who enjoys both composition and playing music.  I play classical guitar for my own pleasure  and also the cello where I have the honour of leading a fabulous section in the Stratford Symphony orchestra.

I have always enjoyed working with wood and was lucky enough to acquire a lathe in my early forties and have experimented a lot with bowls of all shapes and sizes as well as building various bits of furniture and a full size rocking horse for my children.

Then in 2012 I started building my own classical guitars in order to cure myself of GAS  – Guitar Acquisition Syndrome!  ……..well it worked, I no longer spend hours each day drooling over internet sites looking and listening to guitars made by other people that I could not possibly afford!

I found the courage to start making them after finding a wonderful book and DVD set by the American Luthier John Bogdanovich which made the whole process extremely clear and which I can thoroughly recommend.

  • Work started in Sept 2011 with converting my single garage into a luthier’s workshop which is humidity controlled,  nicely insulated,  and probably the warmest room in the house!

    #1 Rosette details. Veneer is made from plum bole from tree felled in garden
    Rosette details. Veneer is made from plum bole from tree felled in garden
  • I then spent several months building jigs and fixtures before starting in earnest on my first guitar in March 2012.  This took about 6 months to complete but with surprisingly good results. I showed this first guitar to Christopher Dean who was very generous with his time and gave me some really helpful advice.
  • I have now made 5 guitars including designs with sound ports in the sides and the latest being one entirely of my own design  based on a 650mm scale and drawing heavily from the approach of Romanillos.

More recently I have also started making cellos.  I finished the process of building my first cello (named “Anna”) in December 2015 (again I drew up my own plans) which turned out to be a lovely instrument – even an improvement on the rather good Mirecourt instrument I had before – and I now play it in the Stratford Symphony orchestra and in chamber groups. I have  just finished my first cello commission which has also turned out to be a most sonorous and responsive instrument.  She has been named “Beryl” by her new owner and  interestingly plays alongside “Anna” in the Stratford Symphony Orchestra!

Most recently I have undertaken both violin commissions (for a member of our orchestra) and a viola commission (Guadagnini copy).  Step by step records of my experience of making can be found here for the violin and viola.

Music is the gateway to the soul