Howard Robinson hand-builds Lindsay Wilson guitars in the UK with Grit Laskin-inspired inlay
By trade, Howard Robinson is a period furniture designer, fitting some of the United Kingdom’s finest period homes with gorgeous, expertly built pieces of furniture. In his spare time, he’s the talented luthier behind Lindsay Wilson Guitars. Though known as a furniture designer, Robinson has been building guitars since his youth. It all began with a Rosetti Lucky 7 acoustic that went through numerous conversions as he went through school—electric bass, SG bass, double neck guitar, and eventually two cricket bat basses. It would be decades before this hobby would turn into a craft. Ten years ago, he was inspired by a magazine cover featuring a Hollywood actress holding a stripped mahogany Fender Precision Bass. Soon after, he began building guitars one at a time.
“I am not really pushing it as a big business,” Robinson says, “I want to get [the guitars] absolutely dead right, so I have a lot of patience.” Robinson makes six instruments, guitars and basses, per year on specific commissions for clients. From the headstock to body work, fingerboard, frets, inlay and even pickguard, each piece is handmade by Robinson, except for the neck blank, which he buys from a specialist. His background in high-end furniture is evident in the instruments’ high polish and attention to detail, from the smooth curves to the meticulous inlay. Robinson credits his intricate inlay to three places: his experience as a cabinet maker, a book by “the awesome” Larry Robinson (no relation) and inspiration by Grit Laskin. “[Grit] uses the neck as a window looking out at a snippet of life, and I love this concept,” Robinson explains.
This guitar is a six-string mahogany solid body built with reclaimed Cuban mahogany, a maple neck, ebony fingerboard, and Karelian birch pickguard and headstock. It features Bare Knuckle Apache single-coil pickups, 7-way switching, Sperzel locking machine heads and a Fender LSR roller nut. He says of the guitar, “I wanted to concentrate on the most basic of principles, and that is a wonderful piece of wood with simple single coils to try and get the very purest sound from the combination of all those materials.” The result is a guitar based in the Strat-style with influences from Rickenbacker, Mosrite, “and a lifetime of looking at various shapes, forms colors and textures.” He adds, “There is no such thing as an original thought.”
The inlay on the guitar came from a Japanese print of two Samurai in a duel. “I have always loved Japanese art, so it was a natural progression from there,” says Robinson. The inlay is composed of mother-of-pearl, abalone, briar, end-grain oak, aluminum, brass, reclaimed ivory and tortoiseshell, bone, bamboo, red and oyster buttons and birdseye maple.