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Roy Harrill
Roy Harrill - Custom Guitar Builder
MY LOVE AFFAIR with all things strings started when I was about 10 years old, having been taken to our local theatre, the Hippodrome in Bristol, to see a band I later learned was called The Shadows.

I saw a smiley man with big red glasses and an even shinier red guitar, creating an astonishingly beautiful sound.

I got my first guitar, a cherry sunburst Columbus Stratocaster, in 1984 for £100, including the case, and almost instantly started tinkering! The guitar quickly became black to be more like Clapton's, and gained a new scratch plate, bridge, tuning heads and pickups pretty soon after.

In truth, the guitar was becoming more like "Trigger’s broom” by the week, (if you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this "Only Fools & Horses" clip).

A chap I worked with gave me a book ("Make Your Own Electric Guitar" by Melvyn Hiscock, Blandford Press, 1986), which I studied for some time before the book found itself on the shelf in an area marked "Dark Arts & Witchcraft - Leave Well Alone!".

Some years later, I was in need of a lap steel guitar to play a track in the band I was performing with ("Stuck In The Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel), but I had no money with which to buy one (the Musicians’ Curse!). My quest was underway!

Tiger by Harrill Guitars.
The First Build - The "Granny Mills" Lap Steel Guitar
Roy Harrill playing the Granny Mills lap steel guitar.
"DURING MY RESEARCH, I found a chap on YouTube who made a lap steel simply by screwing a classical guitar headstock to the leg of an old table, mounting a bridge to the other end and a pickup beneath the strings. I thought: I can do that!

A little later I emerged from my cellar clutching the "Granny Mills", so named because I used my wife's grandmother's dressing table as the base for the guitar; in hindsight a very fine piece of flamed mahogany which later in my career I would have considered an absolute find!

In truth I simply drew around my own guitar, cut out the shape with a jigsaw and bolted all the bits on! But it worked and it worked well.

So that's how it started. I played "Granny Mills" for some time in The Medicine Show, building other models along the way. Gradually my lap steels became more and more refined. Incidentally, Leo Fender started out building lap steel guitars...

With my new vigour and a few successes under my belt, I remembered Howard's book, blew the dust off and set about a self-directed apprenticeship in building "proper" guitars! Now addicted and usually to be found covered in sawdust and Finnish oil, I remain passionately dedicated to the best job in the world!"

Roy Harrill, Proprietor.
Roy Harrill of Harrill Guitars. Roy Harrill of Harrill Guitars. Roy Harrill of Harrill Guitars. Roy Harrill of Harrill Guitars. Roy Harrill of Harrill Guitars.
Video Build Diaries
HERE IS A playlist featuring videos by Harrill Guitars, detailing the progress of various guitar builds.

The films are a mixture of video and photo diaries.

Find more videos by Harrill Guitars on our YouTube page.
Harrill Guitars. Roy Harrill at work in the Harrill Guitars workshop.
Harrill Guitars.