Some choose Atkin because they want a special, individual guitar. They don’t have a separate ‘Custom Shop’ division – they’re all custom shop. When you order an Atkin you can specify every detail, from the fingerboard width, neck profile and fret size to the binding, inlays and finish. That means you can own a truly unique instrument that will give back a lifetime’s pleasure and inspiration.

Alister AtkinAlister AtkinAtkin Guitars was founded in Canterbury, England, in 1995 by Alister Atkin. Since then, they’ve grown steadily from a one-man operation building a handful of one-of-a-kind instruments each year to become one of the UK’s leading acoustic guitar makers. Still in Canterbury, now a two-man operation, they build around 80 guitars a year, each one still handmade and still completely individual.

Alister Atkin left the School of Furniture in 1995 and rented a space in Andy Crockett's workshop in Stourmouth just outside Canterbury. At this stage Alister had built one classical and a couple of electric guitars. Alisters ambition was to build steel string acoustics. In the summer of 1995 he purchased the wood to build his first HD28. With the help of Andy Crockett and Irving Sloane's "Steel String Guitar Construction" the first Atkin Steel String was born. These early guitars were built entirely by hand using time honoured traditional methods.

The story of Atkin Guitars is one of constant dedication to building the best possible instrument. While other high-end guitar makers seem obsessed with turning out “perfect” guitars – exhibition pieces so immaculate they no longer feel man-made – they’re interested in other, more important qualities. Their aim is always to create an instrument with more feel, more personality, more spark.

"We want our guitars to bring the player something exciting and unexpected, something that will inspire them to make great music."

They’re passionate about the history and evolution of the acoustic guitar, the classic models and great innovations that have influenced the players and the music that we love. They want to tell that story with their guitars. Over the years, they’ve worked on just about every model you can name, from golden-era pre-war Martins and Gibsons to the boutique makers who shook things up in the 70s and 80s. They literally know these guitars inside and out, and pour all of that experience into every new instrument. 

All Atkin guitars are built by hand in their workshop, sticking to tried-and-tested traditional construction methods, though they're not afraid to embrace new technology when they feel it can do a better job, just as long as there’s zero compromise in terms of tone. So, for example, frets are fitted and finished by hand but a precision computer-controlled router is used to cut the fret slots. All finished guitars feature nitrocellulose lacquer because they believe it’s still the best sounding, best looking finish a guitar can have.

Alister Atkin with Hamish Stuart and Chris WoodAlister Atkin with Hamish Stuart and Chris Wood

The development of Atkin Guitars owes just as much to the players who have used their instruments. 15 years ago, Andy Mitchell and Boo Hewerdine were among the first to discover Atkin Guitars and since then the list of pro players who choose to play an Atkin has grown – purely through word of mouth and personal recommendations – to include Jim Moray, Kris Drever, Kathryn Williams, Eddi Reader, Elbow, Chris Difford, Nick Harper, Callum and Neill MacColl, Amrit Sond, Richard Hawley and Graham Coxon. The list goes on!

By coming to the workshop, talking, playing and telling us what they want in an acoustic guitar, these players have helped shape the sound and feel of our instruments.

"We’re genuinely blown away by the opportunity to build guitars for players whose music we love, but we know that if we can make an instrument that inspires them, we must be on the right track."

A fine example of an Atkin Guitar is their signature shape, the Atkin Auditorium or AA. It has been designed in consultation with many or our top players to bring together the finest points of our best loved models. They’ve worked hard to achieve a perfectly balanced guitar, in tone, in looks and in your hands. With its narrow waist and rounded shoulders, the AA marries together the intimacy and responsiveness of an OM and the sweet open tones of a Small Jumbo. It is, we think, a bit of a modern classic. In this short video, Alister describes the instrument.

The Deluxe Series is Atkins chance to employ some of the more sophisticated construction techniques honed over the past 20 years. From the Bleak Pearl & Ebony rosette inlay to the herringbone border and backstrip, the look is both modern and classic, while the bound headstock and gold-plated tuners add an understated touch of class.

As for the top, back and sides, specially selected Sitka spruce and Zebrano not only look stunning but provide a tone that is every bit as exceptional and refined as the rest of the instrument.

This Atkin Auditorium Deluxe Sitka Spruce and Zebrano and many other Atkin Guitars are available at Knighton Music Centre.

 Click here to visit the Knighton Music Centre website 

Published 24th Feb 2017