The making of the Welford Bass Guitar

The Guitar Orchestra boasts two very fine, handmade ‘octave bass’ classical guitars, by Robert Welford, the Cambridge luthier. The fingerboard of the Welford bass has one more fret than the standard guitar, and the neck is wider, to accommodate the thicker strings and lower range.Thus the neck joins the body at the thirteenth fret.


Bob’s workshop is a loft extension in his Cambridge home. Like many craftsmen, he has made many of the tools that he uses and developed his own techniques. No two guitars are exactly alike. The newly finished instrument on the table in this picture is a standard guitar with an ‘oiled’ finish.


This is ‘Jimmy Q’, under construction in June 2001, showing the back of the ‘table’. The fan design of the reinforcing bars is Bob’s own. Many woods have been used, including Douglas fir, Brazilian mahogany, and English walnut.

 Each Welford guitar has a personal name. ‘Jimmy Q’s name is a tribute to the childless uncle whose legacy funded the commission, and enabled Mary to fulfil a dream!  


The beautiful shading of the rare Rio Rosewood is already apparent on the unvarnished instrument. The finished guitar will have six coats of varnish. Each one is meticulously rubbed down and checked before applying the next. The high gloss finish contributes to an exceptionally rich and full tone.


Mary’s finished ‘Jimmy Q’ is on the right of the picture. The other Welford guitar is ‘Teddy’, the orchestra’s other bass, owned and played by Teddy Watts. In time, the pale colour of Jimmy’s spruce table will darken to the honey shade of the other guitar.


We have a standard guitar in the Orchestra also made by Bob. This is owned by Mike Addlesee. Mike also plays with Cathy Cunliffe in the Eastfields Guitar Quartet where two further Welford guitars are played!

Robert Welford’s guitars are renowned for their meticulous finish and beauty of tone. He makes all sizes of classical guitars and can be contacted by post or telephone.

1, Victoria Road
CB 4 3BW
Tel: 01223 353423

Photos are by Mary Whitman Hardy, and feature her own Welford bass, ‘Jimmy Q’.