Friday, 15 October 2010

Doug Wilkes - Guitar Builder. . . . .

Doug Wilkes - Top Man!

I am now in the fortunate position of owning two of Doug's fine

One is a twenty year old fretless, that Doug claimed was a cracking
bass, when he plugged it in - which I will come back to another time.
The other one is this beauty!

** Sorry about the strap in the way - you can tell I'm not a real
photographer - still very much an amateur**

Doug made this for a customer, who saw him build it, stage by stage,
almost ten years ago and has been cared for by the original owner
until now.
Thanks for looking after it so well, "L C", still as good as new. :)

Doug's eyes lit up when he saw it, picked it up, rolled it over and uttered the
hallowed words - "Brazilian Mahogany, Wenge, Maple, Purplewood. . . . ."
"Perhaps needs a tweak on the rod", as he unscrewed the cover and inserted
an allen key, tightened it, eyed it up the neck - "sorted"
He then plugged it in to his "under bench" amp and played with the controls,
thumping out a few notes and declared it "Beautiful"
"To make this now, would cost you £xxx.00". I wasn't surprised, at all!!

What a great bloke! Had a coffee and a chat with him, for about half an hour.
I asked him how he got started and to my surprise, all he said was "I'm left
handed". I think he could see I was confused and explained that as a lad,
he had made several guitars to suit what he wanted, getting better as he
went along.
To date, he can't be sure how many he has made but thought the numbers
would run into thousands, as he had a manufacturing facility at one point.

All of them now are made one by one.

What a great little workshop he has, which has got it's own little wood burner,
to keep things cosy in the colder months.
It has also got a very amusing sign on the door - Beware of the Doug! Ha. :)

If you visit his web site, it is full of information about Doug and his work.

There is also something here.

I am going to get some good shots of the bass and do a full review, which I
will post up as soon as I can.

Doug is also "out on the road", making regular appearances in the band
"Hollywood Nites"

Doug Wilkes - A man of many talents!

Cheers. :)


Anonymous said...

I have a Wilkes Custom - fantastic bass, built in 1987 for £750, I bought it in 1992 for £300 and will never sell it. Doug has seen it (he helped me finish a home-made guitar in '94) and it may well be going back to Stoke for a re-furb... I'm surprised so few people have heard of him or know how good his instruments are.

Flat Eric said...

Doug is a great builder and a great character - his workshop is like an Aladin's Cave. I played my Doug Wilkes, a couple of weeks ago - Nice!
I have an 80's Fretless, which I haven't done yet but will get onto, as soon as I can. Any chance of a pic of yours? Cheers. :)

Mushii said...

I had he same bass except the wings were made of bubinga. All of the hardware was chrome schaller. I wish that I had never sold it now. Most beautiful instrument that I have ever owned, even nicer than my Selmer Sax.

Flat Eric said...

Hi. I understand what you mean. I am always very careful when moving something on - "am I entirely sure"? - I think to myself and only when I am, I can let it go.
I think I will do a feature on it, at some point, as this post was more about Doug and his work.
Cheers. :)

Chris Glendinning ( said...

I've got the second bass Doug ever made and two of Dougs custom made bass's I play them all the time, they are my babies. I've also got a Fender, Gibson and a top of the range Music Man Five string with pitzo bridge, that I never ever play,they are nowhere near as good as Doug's. It's very rewarding to not want anything else

Flat Eric said...

Chris, Hi - Great story. I fully understand. Perhaps you could drop me a line with some images??
Cheers. :)