Jonny Kinkead – Luthier, Master Craftsman Guitar Maker

In addition to being a major part of your DNA cocktail, a Dad’s own passions often have life long lasting effect on their offspring.

Something as simple as influencing your choice of football team or sharing a favourite hobby such as fly-fishing is not unusual. However, for Jonny Kinkead (pronounced “Kinkade”) and his brother, their Father’s passion for building wooden models and maintaining sharp chisels – he’d trained as an apprentice toolmaker – fuelled a life long passion.

If this were a quiz show many would struggle to answer the question “What craft is practised by a luthier?”

A luthier (which derives from the French word ‘luth’ for lute) is someone who builds and repairs stringed instruments. With the demand for lutes not as strong as in bygone years the term has evolved to include guitar and violinmakers.

Surrounded by the spoke shaves, the curls of planed timber and a number of brown storage boxes each holding a vital element of the guitar making process, Jonny confesses to being hooked on the twang of guitars around the age of 11.

Since 1970, when Jonny, aged just 16, produced his first guitar, quality has been his mantra. The choices of timber and their resulting shaping into the familiar curves of a guitar give Jonny a wide pallet from which he produces pieces that look and sound truly amazing. Today, his Bristol based, Kinkade Guitars, attracts worldwide demand as his products are simply amongst the World’s most prestigious handcrafted acoustic guitars.

Training in architecture at Kingston Polytechnic, tightened his precision and eye for detail – he is also a very proficient watercolourist. His guitars are completely made by hand and he works very closely with his customers as to choice of timber – including spruce, rosewood, walnut, mahogany and maple – and a range of custom options.

The joy he derives from the craft in which he now excels is a wonderful testament to the aesthetic beauty of his finished products. He still experiences an almost child-like wonder upon being asked to repair a guitar he made perhaps twenty plus years ago. He invests a huge amount of love and dedication into the conversion of timbers into guitars. The patinas of age and use have assured him that his products will live as a legacy to their creator long after he’s gone.

A unique feature of Kinkade guitars is their solid wood scratch plate below the hole of the sound box – this usually comprises of a thin slice of walnut.

Jonny’s book “Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar” is a distillation of his more than 30 years of experience in which he explores his obsession with perfection and detail and contains beautiful photos of some of his creations.

The Kinkade range includes several sizes of steel string acoustic guitars – in six or twelve string versions – as well as hand-carved arch top jazz and fine electro-acoustic guitars. Named after the surrounding districts of Bristol, Jonny’s guitars can be totally personalised.

For more information, please complete our Contact section and we’d be delighted to tell you more about Jonny’s amazing instruments.

Please see below the excellent film – here by courtesy of Falcon Productions – “Tales of Forgotten Crafts – The Guitar Maker”

Published by


I am an English trained and experienced lawyer. I have lived with my wife and family for nearly twenty years in the “California of Europe” - at the tip of Southern Europe. I am a proud European and driven to evangelize about the quality of life to be enjoyed here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s