Options, options, and more options. Graham Drew, master luthier at Drew & Sebastian Guitars in Virginia, says his company offers various options for every detail on their instruments, all the way down to how the pickups are wound. “I think it’s our level of boutique that really sets our guitars apart—most certainly when people play and hear them,” says Drew.
Trained as a carpenter in the UK, Drew came
to the US in 1999 and repaired guitars as a hobby
while playing in a full-time band. He learned
a lot about his craft from British luthier Bernie
Goodfellow while he was home visiting for a few
months in 2000. Three years ago, shortly after
opening Jade Guitars—his own guitar repair shop
in Virginia that is also the sole distributor of D&S
Guitars in the US—Drew entered the custom guitar
market after speaking with numerous customers
and other musicians in the area.
He began by offering building services and
specializing in solidbodies inspired by the classics.
Drew has found that, while customers do request
a variety of custom features, most want to maintain
the look of a traditional guitar. “Guitarists
are a pretty conservative bunch,” says Drew. “And
speaking as a guitarist, I’ll put my hand up and
say I’m totally the same way. [Laughs.]”
That hasn’t kept Drew from toying around
with ideas like unconventional woods and configurations.
For instance, he’s currently building
a thinline Tele-style guitar with a neck made of
solid wenge. And his Avenger model looks like
a cross between a Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster
but has the pickup and hardware configuration
of a Tele. “Those are the kind of ideas that I’ve
got,” says Drew. “I want to do something that’s
familiar but different.”
Drew & Sebastian Guitars offer vintage-style
hardware, like Kluson tuners, and more contemporary
machines such as Grover, Gotoh, Schaller,
and Sperzel. The standard pickup options are
handbuilt by UK-based Wizard Pickups for each
guitar. Drew calls the guys at Wizard and they
determine how each set will be wound and produced
using several criteria—from the woods and
shape of the guitar to the customer’s playing style.
Standard specs on Drew & Sebastian guitars
are a 25 1/2" scale, 22 frets, and 9.5" fretboard
radius. Basses have a standard 34" scale, 20 frets,
and 9.5" fretboard radius. However, customers
can always request alternative specifications,
electronics, and hardware.
The most popular D&S model is the Europa,
a Tele-style guitar that’s available
in Standard, Deluxe, or Special pickup
configurations. The Standard option
has two single-coils, the Deluxe option
features two humbuckers, and the Special
option has three single-coils. Standard
wood choices for the body are
alder or ash. The Europa has a maple
neck with either a maple, rosewood, or
pau ferro fretboard, and is also available
in a semi-hollow thinline version.
The Strat-style Avatar model comes in
Standard and Deluxe configurations.
The standard woods are the same as
the Europa, and other standard options
include a Callaham Vintage S tremolo
and TweedTone, Texas, or Triple Cream
pickups from Wizard. The Avatar in the
photo was a tribute to Ritchie Blackmore
and features a swamp-ash body, 21
frets, and a Callaham Vintage S bridge.
The Swingmaster sports a Jazz-bass-style
look with an alder or ash body, and
a maple neck with a maple or rosewood
fretboard. Customers have the choice
of Gotoh, Hipshot, or Badass II bridges.
The Swingmaster featured here has a
solid alder body finished in Torino Red
and a maple neck with a rosewood
fretboard. Drew also recently built two
semi-hollowbody Swingmasters (with
f-holes) that weigh around 6 pounds.
This model got inspiration from the
Jazzmaster, Jaguar, and Telecaster.
With the same standard wood options
as the Europa and Avatar, the Avenger
is also available with a Jazzmaster-style
floating tremolo or a Jaguar-style 24"
scale. This Avenger has Velvet Alnico II
Wizard pickups and a Joe Barden compensated,
The Firenza is Drew’s own creation and
was inspired by many classic guitars—
including the Jaguar, Mustang, Tele,
SG, and Strat. With this model, Drew’s
goal was to incorporate elements from
as many guitars as possible into a
single instrument. Fittingly, the Firenza
is available with many different wood,
hardware, and pickup options. Additionally,
it is available with a single- or
Pricing and Availability
The starting price for most Drew & Sebastian guitars is $1650, and it goes up from there depending on the finish, woods, and other options. The
guitars featured here normally range from $1800 to $2200, with the pictured Swingmaster bass being $1750, and the Europa model being $1950.
At press time, 12 weeks was the average turnaround time for a D&S guitar. Visitors to the company’s website can check out the “For Sale” section
to view guitars currently available, or the “Work In Progress” section to see guitars that will be for sale soon.
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