From the 2020 Festival

Our 2020 Exhibitors

From Steve Toon:

Having come from a heritage of fine cabinetmakers, furniture designers and engineers it seems natural to have taken up guitar making.

I acquired my first guitar at the age of ten when my father found a broken one in a skip. Together we spent many hours repairing it and since then I became captivated by its sound and intrigued by its construction. I later built my first guitar at school while I was learning to play classical guitar. After leaving school I attended London College of Furniture to Study Early Fretted Instrument Making but left the course early lured by a career in the Music Industry as a live sound engineer. I did this for about 3 years before moving into the furniture industry and making guitars in my spare time.

Around 2004 I decided to stop working in furniture and concentrate solely on my guitar making as it was really my true interest and passion and have since then spent my time improving my guitar building as well as becoming a “go-to” guitar repairer. During my time building and repairing guitars I have come across guitars by notable makers and had the opportunity to study these first hand.

I have been making guitars for more than 25 years and am still fascinated by the process of turning beautiful wood into a living instrument of simple beauty which can produce versatile sound – extremely aggressive and strong, powerful and passionate or light and tender.

When I build a new guitar my aim is to make it respond to the player. I select the wood very carefully from my stock of aged wood, paying great attention to the soundboard, back and sides. I care a lot about the aesthetics of the guitar as I also think it should look good. I use traditional methods and work almost entirely by hand. My guitars are either French polished or varnished using oil varnish.

I have built guitars for John Etheridge, Gordon Giltrap, Blake Wilner, Ciyo Brown and Hayley Savage as well as many talented amateur and semi pro-players. 

To contact Steve, feel free to email him at or at 07810752342

About Stuart Christie

Classical guitar has been part of Stuart’s life since his time at university, and during first career. He is one of many luthiers who entered the profession after being inspired by Irving Sloane’s book “Making Classic Guitars”. He initially made guitars in his spare time from about 2000, finally switching careers in 2013 and setting up his professional  workshop.  Stuart is mostly self taught as a luthier, but with help from many other luthiers including Peter Barton, Stephen Hill and Pablo Requena. He has expanded on his knowledge by researching numerous published and internet resources, and by his own experience in the workshop.

His guitars are traditional in construction and sound having been influenced by Jose Romanillos, Torres and Hauser. He aims for responsive guitars which are easy to play and with a full palate of tone colours.

Stuart’s passion for guitar making is reflected in the standard of his workmanship including the rosettes and other decorative elements. His workshop is in the Hampshire countryside.

Contact information:


Phone: 07768131330




José Marques was born in Portugal.


From an early age he  became interested in the music of the guitar and other string instruments.
However, as it was necessary for many in Portugal at that time, at age of 14 José began his career as a carpenter, which he continued for many years with success, gaining much experience and skill in this field.


While living in Alentejo, Portugal, Jose was fortunate to be introduced to a traditional string instrument Luthier, Daniel Luz, and soon found the happiness of being able to learn the art of guitar making. José apprenticed for two years with Daniel Luz and was taught the art of building Portuguese Guitar, Viola Campaniça, Ukulele, classical guitar and several other instruments. All being built by hand.


After this learning time with Mr. Daniel Luz, José made a decision to increase his knowledge and understanding of various world established and respected Luthiers of past and present, learning their techniques and more about materials, etc. Today José lives in the UK in Bury St Edmunds – Suffolk where he has a small workshop building his concert guitars. José's main influences are: Antonio de Torres, Jose Romanillos, Hermann Hauser and Daniel Friederich.



+44(0)7931 049952




Bury St Edmunds

United Kingdom


James Lister became a full-time guitar maker in 2001, giving up a career in physics and engineering to pursue a passion for music and working with wood. He studied luthiery first at London Guildhall University (formerly London College of Furniture), and then at Newark College under Tony Johnson and Roy Courtnall, during which time he set up his own workshop and started selling guitars both in the UK and overseas. In 2015 James completed his 100th guitar using all non-tropical tonewoods. This guitar was very well received, and was loaned to Marcin Dylla for 15 months.

James is now course coordinator for the BA Musical Instrument Craft (Guitar making and repair) course at Newark College, teaching 2 days, and making guitars for the remainder of the week. His interest in the use of alternative and non-tropical tonewoods was inspired by the college’s involvement in the Leonardo Guitar Research Project – a European funded investigation in to the perceived (and/or real) differences between guitars made with tropical and non-tropical hardwoods.

James’ guitars are traditionally built using mostly hand tools, each guitar taking between 6 and 8 weeks to complete. All his guitars are finished with either French polish or a rubbed oil finish. Working mainly to commission, James now offers guitars in a range of body sizes and scale lengths to suit the player, and has made great guitars with scales from 613.5mm up to 660mm.

Contact information:


Mobile: 07941 400526

From Stephen Eden:

I bought my first acoustic guitar when I was 18. Having been passionately into music for many years, I felt it was time I pursued this somehow. It didn't take me long to realise that my abilities as a musician were never going to make me any money! This coincided with the realisation that I was not suited to working in the world of statistics.
It was suggested to me that I should quit my unfulfilling course and pursue a more physical, suitable form of work such as carpentry and joinery. The idea of making furniture or houses didn't fill me with joy either. Then it came to me. Somebody had to make guitars.

In 2004 I attended some evening classes with Stephen Hill and was inspired. I then siezed the opportunity to go on to work with with Pablo Requena as his apprentice where the fire in my belly grew for this craft. It was an old style two-year apprenticeship that offered knowledge rather than money as payment. It was a fantastic start to what is now my lifelong career. My time with Pablo Requena provided me with a great foundation of knowledge and skills which I continue to put to use and build upon today.
My first workshop was setup in 2008 in my mum's newly-converted garage. It was there I set about honing my skills and developing my own sound. After 5 years I moved my workshop to my own house in Bexhill-on-Sea where I still work today. 

I have been inspired by so many including the likes of Torres, Santos Hernandez, Hermann Hauser and Daniel Friederich. There is always so much to learn. Guitar making continues to be an amazing journey. I have enjoyed refining my craftsmanship and continue to do so. My desire to build great guitars has been encouraged along the way with opportunities presented to me by Kent Guitar Classics to get up close and personal with some inspiring makes such as Daniel Friederich and Hermann Hauser Guitars. 
I am thrilled to have my guitars stocked amongst such a fine collection available at Kent Guitar Classics. Together we have also collaborated in the creation of the very successful Cadenza model.

Over the last 11 years I have been fortunate enough to build guitars for many professional guitarists such as Paul Gregory, Juan Martin, Peter Stuart, Sean Shibe, Ian Watt, Andrew Gough, Allan Neave, Gaëlle Solall and Mark Eden. I am privileged to now have my instruments finding homes internationally spanning every continent except Antartica!

Phone: 07723311476