Welcome to Feline Guitars
My name is Jonathan and I run the company.
I set up and designed Feline Guitars to run in the way that I always wanted to see a guitar workshop run.
We aim to deliver the right mix of technical expertise with a friendly and welcoming approach and give solid good advice regardless of whether we are making a sale or not.
We are obsessed with trying to get the best out of every guitar, and unlocking the potential within each instrument.
We aim to be free of brand snobbishness**, instead recognising that each guitar has potential based on the mix of the properties of the timbers that it is made from, how well it is put together and the hardware and electronics it carries, or perhaps the potential it would have if some careful TLC and upgrade work were done.
**Obviously we feel passionately about the guitars we build from scratch
We like to remember that every guitar we see is somebody's “pride and joy”, or may become that with the right adjustments.
We always offer sensible advice over the cost effectiveness of what can be done, yet we also consider the real value that would be achieved if a guitar was going to become something that you would then play every day to express yourself musically.
We like to believe that the value of life is in living it to the max and actually enjoying what you do, rather than only being hung up over what a resale value would be on everything you own.
We are also aware of personal & sentimental attachments that players have to their instruments, and aim to help them get more pleasure from those instruments.
The Feline Guitars brand was started off in about 1989 with the first instruments bearing that name on the headstock being sold in 1992.
My own background in lutherie going back to 1986 when attending London College of Furniture's Musical Instrument Technology guitar building course.
I subsequently owe a huge debt of gratitude for the continued instruction I got from Neil Macdonald, Charlie Chandler, Joe Marinic of Shadow Guitars and Dan Erlewine, and also to my brother in fretwork Doug Campbell of Blackmachine Guitars with whom I shared and traded ideas whilst we both grew in our skills.
Also not overlooking things I have learned from the talented people I have worked alongside & within the Feline crew over the years.
The Feline Guitars repair shop opened properly in 1997 with the first workshop in the basement of the old famous Bell Music Store in Surbiton.
Sadly after a couple of years that building was sold by it’s owners to property developers, and I moved the workshop back closer to home in South Croydon.
We spent 4 years in our own workshop space at Martin Phelps Music, steadily growing our customer base and the range of what we did till the time came that we needed more space, as indeed did they, for their Music School had grown to the point that they needed more space for teaching rooms.
So at the end of 2002 we were lucky to find a perfect location less than 50 yards away from that workshop, which is where we still find ourselves almost two decades later in our current home in Coombe Road.
So much has happened since then. We have built a vast number of guitars, and repaired or set up many thousands of guitars and basses.
We have exhibited at a large number of guitar shows, had magazine reviews of our guitars and a lot of coverage on social media. We have an ever growing roster of well known artists who enjoy the same quality of work that all our customers get.
We launched our own brand of guitar strings and continued to extend our branding with the help of cult artist Vince Ray.
Maintaining quality in an ever changing world
The musical instrument industry is changing a lot lately.
Just like so many other industries – manufacturing has drifted to far eastern countries such as China, to drive down manufacturing costs. Sadly what is often lost is quality and this is something that many players have grown frustrated with.
An interesting side effect is that specialist companies like Feline Guitars have gotten busier as players who want quality goods more than they care about cheapness seek out companies who offer quality without compromise. This has meant that we seem to be busier than ever.
One thing that we are having to do is to look carefully at the quality of all the parts that are available to us on the market, as like the guitars themselves- many of these parts have been cheapened and moved to cheaper production plants.
I am committed to high quality parts and will continue to seek sources of these out as it is what my customers really want.
We have been increasing the portfolio of top quality parts that we deal with as well as launching our own FatCat line of quality hardware.
We are committed to keeping the quality of our own custom made product high and improving in any areas that we can.