Here are some of the better known people who have recorded and/or performed with my guitars. I've put them in order of when they first acquired a guitar from me - more interesting than alphabetical!
Richard Durrant www.richard-durrant.com
Richard owns a cedar and rosewood Jumbo model which was a prototype for the current model built alongside the guitar that would become Nick Pynn's, in 1996/7.
"When I play a gig or record on steel
strung guitar I would only ever use my Benjamin. The clarity and range has changed
my playing, the sheer volume makes my life easier and the quality of sound makes
sound engineers and producers take you seriously from the moment you start tuning!
And if you're stuck for new material then it pays to have an unputdownable instrument
that forces you to noodle and doodle....."
Hear Richard's guitar on many of his recordings including the 'Pandora' album with Herbie Flowers of 'Walk on the Wildside' bass-line fame.
Nick Pynn www.nickpynn.co.uk
Nick bought one of my first professional instruments in 1997; a prototype for the current Jumbo model in cedar and walnut and has used it ever since for all his recording and performances.
"If I could take only one material possession with me to a desert island, it would be my Benjamin guitar...every ear that hears it and every hand that has stroked it's strings has fallen in love with it. My favourite finger-picking guitar ever. I couldn't imagine life without it."
Hear Nick's guitar on albums such as 'Music from Windows' and 'Afterplansman'.
Tab Hunter www.blazingstrings.co.uk www.longhillramblers.com
I originally created a 'Jumbo-Dreadnought' model for Tab in 2002, to try to suit the varied demands of his playing. The 'Tabnought', as it is known, is built from old dark Brazilian and Sitka spruce and pumps out solid bass lines as well as delicate flat-picked melodies.
"The guitar that Nick made for me is unlike any other guitar that I've ever played...with a sweet & even tone, powerful bass, solid middle, cutting but rounded top-end, amazing volume, unerring accuracy and big gorgeous voice. When working with a fiddle-player, I have unprecedented dynamic scope, and when flat-picking melodies, the sustain and big voice means that the single note stuff never sounds thin. Once I'd accustomed myself to a guitar that didn't call for compensation (however slight) in tuning, or playing, I actually found that my playing improved (possibly because the instrument is so accurate that I was forced to tidy up any sloppy technique!). Whilst waiting for the guitar to be completed, there was the vague thought in the back of my mind that it might not turn out how I wanted it...but very shortly after finally getting my hands on it, I realized that it was as near to perfect as I could hope. Nick's a genius.
I won't ever need another guitar.
Philippe Barnes www.philippebarnes.com http://www.crossharbourmusic.com/
Guitarist and flautist Philippe has owned several Benjamin guitars over the years including a cedar/walnut JOM (#36, 2002), a Terz guitar (#116, 2011) and I am just completing a new model 'M' in cedar and walnut for him!
Eric Roche www.ericroche.com
Eric Roche leaves behind him a lasting influence on the UK and world acoustic guitar scene and, as was shown by the huge response to his death in September 2005, a lasting influence on many peoples lives. Eric was unique amongst solo acoustic guitar performers in that he could really reach out captivate any audience (not just guitar freaks!) with his unaffected warmth of personality; you felt you were getting Eric not a 'show' when you saw his concerts. Even at the last few concerts Eric did, during the later stages of his illness, he was out talking to everyone afterwards, making new friends and inspiring everyone left, right and center, even if they didn't know one end of a guitar from the other.
I was very fortunate to meet Eric at the Lewes Guitar Festival in 2002. After a storming concert supported by Tony Cox, he conducted a workshop the next day and I managed to thrust a couple of guitars at him before he had to leave. Luckily for me Eric had been thinking about getting a smaller guitar to contrast with his famously battered Lowden and my guitars must have made a reasonable impression because he returned a few months later (after the birth of his first child Stefan) to place an order.
When Eric came back down to Lewes I borrowed back a number of guitars from local customers to help him decide what I should make and he really fell for a twelve fret 000 made from cedar and Indian rosewood. After much deliberation we decided a fourteen fret neck joint Orchestra model, built from the same woods, and with some tonal design nudging towards the twelve fret 000 was the answer, giving Eric the rich, open tone of the 000 and the fret access he was used to.
Here are some very kind words Eric gave to me after I completed the guitar:
"My Benjamin OM guitar fills a huge gap in my guitar collection. I am normally associated with deep-body jumbo-style instruments. I was looking for a smaller instrument when I discovered Nick Benjamin's guitars. The 'Benjamin' has the clarity, definition and tone that gives me a new accent in my guitar voice. I never knew that an instrument this size could have such a resonant and full bass end. It has been an real ear (and eye) opener. After only a month I am composing and playing music that would never have been realized on my other guitars. I have been unable to put this guitar down since I first collected her from Nick's workshop. I intend to give this instrument a central role in my recording and performing work. It is truly the refreshing inspiration that I need at the start of a new year! I feel like I have fallen in love with guitar all over again. Who knows where this new affair with my 'Benjamin' will lead!"
Eric went on to write many of the new pieces for his 'With These Hands' album on the guitar, and nine out of thirteen tracks were recorded with it in the end. You can also see the guitar on the cover in mirror image!
During the initial stages of Eric's illness in 2004 I went forward with a new prototype guitar for him designed to replace his battered Lowden. Eric used the guitar for a number of months and even took it to China for his far eastern debut, but I am very sad not to have had the opportunity to make the next one for him using everything I had learnt from the first two instruments.
Rest in Peace Eric
Newton Faulkner www.newtonfaulkner.com
Newton commissioned a JOM in Sitka and mahogany whilst still at college being tutored by Eric Roche and I've never known anyone play in a guitar so quickly - a hefty playing schedule of 'all day, every day'! After a row of EP releases and gradually increasing radio attention, Newton's debut album 'Hand Built By Robots' finally hit the number one spot in the UK charts in 2007 after the great success of his 'Dream Catch Me' single and he has continued to use my guitars for all his recording and live work over his whole career thus far. Newton has a long row of Benjamin guitars these days - as can often be seen at his concerts - various new instruments are in the piepline currently with one particularly unusual project on the way!
Stuart Ryan www.stuartryanmusic.com
Stuart has owned two Benjamin guitars over the years; an Alpine spruce and Amazon rosewood 00 and a Sitka spruce and Indian rosewood JOM. He used them for much of his teaching, performing and magazine tuition recordings.
Thomas Leeb www.thomasleeb.com
In 2007 I lent prototype guitar #77 to Thomas to test out its special 'Percussion' construction. It was a modified JOM model with special strutting designed to resist breakage from soundboard percussion techniques, a pinless bridge, a long scale (660mm) for low tunings and was also my first Benjamin 'Scoop' cutaway guitar. Thomas used the guitar to record part of his 'Desert Pirate' album - you can hear #77 on 'Jebuda', 'No Woman No Cry' and 'Oft Geht Bled'.
Clive Carroll www.clivecarroll.co.uk
In the spring of 2008 a made a guitar for Clive Carroll, an Orchestra Model in Sitka spruce and Honduras rosewood. You can hear the guitar on his 'Life in Colour' album used on several tracks, including; 'All This Time', 'The Gentle Man', 'The Boatman' and the octaves melody part on 'Oregon'.
Ryan Keen www.ryankeen.co.uk
Ryan has several Benjamin guitars; a Sitka spruce and mahogany JOM, a cedar/rosewood Midi-Jumbo, a Lutz spruce and Macassar ebony Baritone and I'm just about to start a new JOM for him. You can hear Ryan's Benjamins on all his recordings and live work!
Mike Dawes www.mikedawes.co.uk
Mike bought my hundredth guitar in 2010 - a Cocobolo rosewood and Alpine spruce Jumbo model and now also owns a Sitka spruce and mahogany JOM that has been his main touring guitar over the past couple of years for both his solo shows and his tours with Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. You can hear #100 on all of Mike's first album 'What Just Happened' apart from one track that features a cedar/Indian rosewood Benjamin MJ and you can see it on all his studio filmed performance videos on YouTube, including his best known pieces; 'Somebody I used to Know' and 'The Impossible'.
Kaki King www.kakiking.com
In 2009 I offered to make Kaki a guitar (something I don't do very often) - I had been listening non-stop to her albums that spear-headed a cross-over from percussive acoustic guitar into rock territory. She had a huge array of guitars already and is of course mainly associated with Adamas guitars so she accepted the offer as long as it was something unusual! She came up with a high tuned four string guitar and I also decided to try out some ideas I had been knocking about for a asymmetric body acoustic. I got the guitar to Kaki just as she was working on her 'Junior' album and I am very pleased to say that she used it for a track called 'The Hoopers of Hudspeth'!
Ray Davies www.raydavies.info
Ray Davies' studios, 'Konk', contacted me in 2010 asking if they could borrow one of my Baritone guitars for a recording Ray was doing: the 'See My Friends' project. Ray had seen Newton Faulkner using his one at the studio and thought it would be great to use next to Jackson Browne's low tuned acoustic on 'Waterloo Sunset'. I decided afterwards that I would make a Baritone guitar for Ray in recognition of his amazing song-writing and of the majorly influential guitar driven sound of the Kinks. I also made the guitar for my younger self: when I made my first guitar - on my bedroom table with very few tools - there was frequently a Kinks album on the turn-table whilst I struggled with the bits of wood and I would never have believed then that I would one day make a guitar for the writer of those songs!
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