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.
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, vintage-style bridge.
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 double-cutaway body.
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.