About the Company
Responsive Handmade Guitars Made by Luthier Ash Nightingale
I am striving to build some of the finest and most responsive handmade guitars that the world has to offer. I am constantly studying and consider myself a lifelong student of this craft.
Before launching Nightingale Guitars I completed a formal apprenticeship in Joinery with a small firm producing one off bespoke items. We made everything from high-end staircases through to fine furniture. This gave me a solid foundation in woodworking and experience working in a professional workshop environment. I also trained with esteemed cabinet maker David Charlesworth in 2014. This was really where my obsession for precision woodworking began.
I started building guitars in 2015 at the age of 23. This came from a passion for music and fine woodworking. I love putting my creativity into an item that is then used by someone to also be creative with. This philosophy carries through until today, I want to create guitars that unlock new levels of creativity for the player.
I am always searching for the finest materials, figured wood, one of a kind inlay material, hardware and cases to make available to my clients. I believe the back and forth which often happens throughout the build really helps each client to feel truly connected to their instrument. As a result each guitar is one of a kind.
I build my guitars with the player in mind, my priorities in order of importance are playability, tone and aesthetic. A guitar should not only look beautiful, its main purpose is to create music. Equally you can have a guitar which sounds amazing but if it feels uncomfortable it will likely not get played. For this reason I have arrived at quite definite ideas about my construction methods, I have focused on each component of the guitar to optimise its performance.
Here are just a few examples:
- the necks of my guitars all have an elevated fingerboard with carbon fiber reinforcing rods extending over the body. I feel this gives me greater control over the shape of the neck and also prevents the the common “lump” that appears at the neck to body joint on many guitars.
- all my guitars come with laminated sides. This makes the rim assembly extremely stiff whilst remaining fairly light weight. The rim should not absorb energy but provide a solid anchor for the top and back to allow them to vibrate freely. I also exclusively use solid linings instead of kerfed for the same reasons.
- I build my guitar tops very lightly with my variation of the traditional X brace. They are thicknessed to a target deflection rather than thickness, a method developed by Ervin Somogyi.
- I use a wider 6mm bone saddle which allows for greater control of intonation at the bridge. The nut is also intonated on all of my guitars
The Company Today
In November 2020 Nightingale Guitars moved from Cornwall to Stroud (near Bristol). This included signing the lease on a 50sqm commercial premises. This moment was my transition from part time to full time Luthier and Repairman.
2021 has been all about stepping up the game, I have taken a short pause from guitar building to develop and release 4 brand new models. These models make up the ‘official product offering’ of the company. I want to offer an understandable range across 4 sizes, 14″, 15″, 16″ and 17″ so I have something for everyone. So the N360, N380, N400 and N430 were born. The N stands for Nightingale and the number relates to the millimetre measurement of the lower bout. If a cutaway is added to the Guitar the letter F (for florentine) or V (for Venetian) can be added to the end of the model number. The first new guitars can be expected Spring/Summer 2022.
I’m stepping away from my Past Portfolio to focus on the new models. This is a necessary step for the company to only release work which is the most up to date in terms of design, build and innovation.
A Note About Guitar Repair
My dream is to spend 100% of my time building beautiful guitars. So I admit I was a little reluctant to do guitar repair at first. Its something that has evolved naturally over time. However the more repair I do the more I appreciate it. First and foremost it keeps me in my workshop where I belong. It also provides valuable cash flow to the business without which I couldn’t survive. I have now setup and repaired over 100 instruments.
Something I did not expect about guitar repair is that it now informs my build process. I get to see what works and what doesn’t, What stands the test of time. What treatment of the neck and frets stays true. Which internal bracing best supports the structure of the body over the years. Some of the build methods I have chosen to use now are a direct result of things I have seen in my repair work. Either things that worked, or things that didn’t. Its all useful information.