Rufus Guitars started out life a few years ago as an attempt to answer a question: "Is it possible to make a guitar from British sourced materials?". There was nothing nationalistic or jingoistic in the idea - I simply wanted to know if it was a feasible or viable idea to make an environmentally friendly, locally sourced instrument. I have always loved the battered old workhorse, covered in stickers that's kept in the corner, the guitar that you grab because it's your favourite, not because it was the most expensive - this is the guitar that I wanted to make.
Over the next three years Rufus expanded from a part-time interest to a business that has developed the skills and techniques of guitar making. We've made guitars from Sycamore, Ash, Cherry, Pear, Elm, Walnut, Lime and Maple. We've tested, and made use of, various British-made adhesives, strings, potentiometers and truss-rods. And, of course, we've fitted UK made pick-ups. Our biggest challenge has been to develop a water-based, environmentally friendly coating process for the paint and lacquer; both the paint and the lacquer are British products.
For the past three years we have worked with artists to develop our techniques and designs, and to give those guitarists a custom made instrument. The time has now come to use the experience that we have gained; we are currently installing new machinery, including a new CNC system, to automate some of our processes. This means that we will now be a manufacturer, not a custom-shop style guitar maker. Our initial guitar production will focus on our most popular designs, the Rufus Radian and Rufus Infinity. We will still, of course, be using British timber, the initial cut-out and shaping will be performed CNC, and then it will be hand sanded, lacquered and fitted-out by a trained technician.
Of course, there are certain items that cannot be sourced in the UK, the two main ones being tuning-machines and bridges - we are looking at making our own bridge, but for the foreseeable future we intend to fit German made Schaller.
From the very beginning, R&D has been a key part of our approach; from looking at wood resonance, adhesive testing and environmentally healthy paint systems to new construction methods, wood drying techniques and stress-testing Most importantly, we have developed a new through neck system that is truly unique - it brings all the benefits of through-neck strength and resonance and yet preserves the integrity of the body as a single piece of timber. I believe that Rufus guitars are uniquely British and offer something new and different.
I would particularly like to thank all those artists that showed a huge amount of faith in Rufus and became part of the R&D program. I have tried to promote the music of these artists as much as possible as hopefully you may have seen on our Twitter account. We will be shipping out new guitars to you as soon as we can, but, as usual, this might take some time!
I will post more updates soon, maybe with a few pictures of the new set-up and guitars as they are produced.
- Rufus Williams, Aug 2015