Owning a Brook Guitar is a gift for life
Brook are small team of luthiers who have been custom making their guitars in Devon, in a workshop built on ancient woodland near Dartmoor for the last twenty years. I have been fortunate enough to visit their workshop a number of times and have had many conversations with Andy Petherick and Simon Smidmore, who initially started the company. They are committed to quality, use traditional methods, source local top quality timber that they cut and dry from the surrounding countryside and they have rightly gained a reputation for their exceptional value and quality. They frequently use sustainable wood and delivery is just down the road making them additionally environmentally friendly. If you are an acoustic player and haven’t heard of them then I can’t convey how much you should try one if you ever get the chance.
I have been familiar with the Brook name since a trip to London many years ago chatting to a guy in one of the Denmark Street guitar shops about Martin guitars. He told me that he used to live in Devon and told me about a Brook he owned. He said it was the only guitar he would never part with and joked that he wanted to be buried with it! When I opened the shop in Exeter, I quickly found that customers kept talking about Brook Guitars, and Simon’s and Andy’s names kept being mentioned to me. Early on in the shop’s history, we held a Sunday Promotional day, and Brook very kindly turned up to help and had a few guitars with them. This is when I really had my first experience of Brook instruments and I remember just being blown away by their playability, tone and breath taking craftsmanship and I immediately wanted one for myself. The first Brook I owned was a Teign, I selected it for myself from the very first batch we received and I remember I got it out of its case, played a chord or two and then that was it – I just had to have it.
As a player I really identify and appreciate high quality craftsmanship in a guitar. Despite strong competition at the high end of the market some of the very large names in the guitar building world just don’t allow for enough care and attention when building a high-end instrument. With a Brook guitar, every, single one I have ever picked up is endowed with a hand-built quality throughout its look and feel and this is something I have really come to admire. They are extremely fine musical instruments and they all have a wonderful tone and character to them. But more than this, as possessions they are true objects of beauty. Some people enjoy collecting and admiring classic cars, paintings or maybe antiques – well, I get a kick out of a Brook.
Not only does a well-built instrument produce a better feel and tone it is also a more enjoyable instrument to own handle and collect. From a business point of view, what I really appreciate is the friendly and honest relationship between Brook and ourselves. With so many guitar brands these days, business relationships between brand and dealer have developed a clinical and completely commercial feel. If you went back only a decade ago this was not the case and focus was on quality and this is the pleasure we get from working with Brook. Not just because of the craftsmanship in the instruments they make and the satisfaction received from the customers who buy them but because of the character and joy when working with the company…and I’m personally tempted to buy Brook guitars more than any other range we stock..!
Because of these reasons, we try stock as many Brook guitars as we can. As with all genuinely hand-built instruments, it takes time to craft a guitar, so due to the delay between placing an order and receiving instruments, our stock levels will vary greatly (a point mentioned in a previous blog about the Waterloo Collings). Ideally, I would like to have at least 12 in stock at any time, but the workshop is in very high demand and they sell so quickly that it can be a real struggle to obtain enough stock. The workshop will not rush anything and they will not compromise with either quality or the build process in any way. I think what many players may not appreciate is the massive volumes that other brands turn out can (and invariably do) lead to quality issues. Brook, along with a few other quality builders, will not and do not build guitars by putting themselves under pressure. Andy and Simon could go out and sell many more instruments if they wanted to because the demand is certainly very high. Just in this country alone, I would suspect that they could substantially increase the amount they sold each year. So we give them enormous respect for keeping the focus on quality.
Brook offer a feel and vibe that is just intrinsically Brook. In May I took my latest Brook, a Torridge, onto north Dartmoor and played it outside to the vast expanse of emptiness and a few sheep. Despite now playing it regularly for months the sound it makes still continues to take my breath away.
In store we currently have a number of models made from non-tropical and sustainable timbers including English walnut on a beautiful Torridge and English cherry on a Tavy. As a result of the wood, the sheer quality build of these instruments, the jaw dropping sound (the walnut on the Torridge back and sides provide clarity and clear, warm, sumptuous tone) the handmade characteristics of each guitar and the company’s ethos; many of our customers purchase a Brook as a guitar for life.
Project Music really recommend trying one if you ever get the chance.