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
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’.