Luthiers' Corner - Angela Arnott / 42nd Street Guitars
Posted by Rothko and Frost on August 28, 2014
We recently spoke with Angela Arnott, the Guitar Angel, about her career as a luthier. Angela offers repairs and upgrades (see guitarangel.co.uk), and also runs 42nd Street Custom Guitars and Basses (42ndstreetguitars.co.uk).
Hi Angela, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.
How long have you been a luthier?
More than 30 years.
What inspired you to become a luthier?
It came from collecting old guitars. Many needed work, having been badly repaired or neglected in the past.
Have you got a favourite project that you have worked on since you started?
The design and development of our 42nd Street R-Cab model.
Any truly weird and wonderful instruments that you remember working on in the past or present?
The restoration of a 1985 330 Rickenbacker which arrived with half the neck missing. As well as making a new neck, the owner wanted fanned frets which involved redesigning the instrument and making a bespoke bridge.
What's the worst condition instrument that you have ever worked on and what happened with it?
A Gibson J35 from 1937 which came to us in a very poor state having been previously refinished and strengthened with some 2x1 battening inside!! The top had been sanded to around 0.5mm in places and the sides were badly cracked and split.
We removed the back for access and were able to save the top and restore the instrument - almost invisibly - to it's former glory.
Your "42nd Street" instruments are truly stunning pieces of work, what were you thoughts going into it and how do you see the range developing?
As repairs and restoration work is always challenging it makes a refreshing change to build new instruments. All the work is clean and you can choose your own colours! ...and I really love colours!
There is no range as such, but we have some built up examples for customers to view and try. I have many ideas for variations on the instruments that are displayed on the website. This is a starting point for the customer to design and spec their own instrument.
42nd street is our brand name for custom built guitars and basses, along with nitro finished relic bodies necks and kits, and runs along side our core business of vintage restorations.
Do you have a private collection, if so do you have any favourites?
Yes, I have a private collection, and vintage basses are the favourites.
Are there any tools that you rely on a day to day basis?
Yes, I have a variety of specialist tools, some of which are custom made. The diversity of the business means that many tools are in daily use. One of my favourites is the mighty rasp! And, of course, the spraying equipment.
Do you have any other engineering/creative hobbies?
I am quite keen on building and construction work.
And finally, have you got any advice to offer any up and coming Luthiers?
The best advice would be to try and work with an experienced luthier and learn the skills as there is a vast difference between an assembler of parts and one who repairs and restores where multiple skills are required.
There is also, these days, a lot of guidance regarding certain aspects to be found online but there's nothing like hands on. Collect up some broken and damaged guitars, take them apart and see how they are made, then reassemble them into working instruments - headscratching, problem solving and adapting as you go.
To enquire about repair work, upgrades or custom builds please contact Angela on 01594 839261, or firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the Guitar Angel Workshop can be found on their website guitarangel.co.uk
More information about 42nd Street Guitars and Basses can be found here: 42ndstreetguitars.co.uk
42nd Street replacement bodies and necks are available through Rothko and Frost.