19 January 2023

Quality guitars with more than just strings attached

By Lark Music

Working in the music industry isn’t just focused upon perfoming.  Guitar Luthier, Daisy Tempest, tells Private Clients Director Julie Webb how she wants to change the world of guitars

Although I love playing the piano and guitar, I would never have been able to make a successful career of it. I know because I have worked with some amazing musicians and, realistically, I wasn’t at their level.

I have also been nervous and afraid of performing, and it has taken me years to get over that. Just recently I have been doing a few gigs in London with Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones) but just for fun.

After realising I would not make it as a professional musician, I took a Masters in English but knew I didn’t want an office job.

Making fine guitars ticked all my boxes

Being a guitar luthier meant I could still be involved in music which was important to me on several levels. My father James McConnel is a composer, and my connection with the acoustic guitar is particularly special as I used to play with my brother Freddy, who sadly died at the age of 18.

This niche market is ideal for creative people, where fine guitars are essentially art pieces. I’ll hand-deliver these guitars across the world, which complements my passion for travel.  This work also combines my interest in videography and photography, adding to my income. I’ve even invested in my own workshop.

When it comes to creative genes, they definitely come from the maternal side of the Tempest family! My great grandmother was a wood carver – I have the chisel she made which stirs the craftswoman in my blood. It is the most prized possession in my toolbox.

My mother, Annie Tempest, is Country Life’s cartoonist and a sculptor – while my guitars are decorated with bespoke inlays inspired by my aunt Bridget Tempest who specialises in etched copper printmaking.

Starting out as a luthier has not been an easy path

My first apprenticeship was horrendous – I was treated poorly and wasn’t given the opportunity to learn.  This industry can be much like the 18th century when it comes to women progressing their careers. It’s important to highlight the fact that there is some awful treatment of apprentices.

Second-time around I was lucky enough to be apprenticed by Rosie Heydenrych at Turnstone Guitars, in Surrey. She had experienced even worse as an apprentice and made sure I was treated as an equal. She was the most amazing mentor.

At the moment I rent my shared workshop in Deptford, in south-east London. It works well for now, although the lack of air conditioning was a challenge this summer!

With six years’ experience I now pay myself £7 an hour, as making a bespoke £6,000 guitar is hugely time consuming. When I talk to people in my industry about my prices they say ‘that’s way too much’ but those outside the industry say ‘that’s way too little’!

Now I want to change the world of acoustic guitars

Whilst everyone likes to make a statement with a fine Steinway in their home, I want them to have a Tempest acoustic guitar leaning close to their piano, to give music its finest voice. I want to change the world of acoustic guitars.

Tempest guitars are heirloom pieces that are built to my client’s wishes and made to last a lifetime. I use sustainable wood such as spruce which gives such a clean white appearance, as well as African Padauk which gives off an extraordinarily rich sound.

My guitars are decorated with Bridget’s inlays and I use 18th century hand-marbled endpapers, given to me by curator Raymond O’Shea, which I curl around the guitar’s sound hole for decoration.

I have three guitars on the go at the moment, which are being made for business people in the US, including a lawyer and an accountant. I look forward to delivering them personally!

No airline is a friend of musicians or luthiers. There seems to be no understanding of how stressful and expensive it is to travel with a valuable instrument, especially if it needs to have its own seat.

I would like to partner with airlines so their crews can learn how a fine instrument is actually an extension of the musician, or in my case, the craft maker. All musicians I know loathe airlines because not one has any understanding of the challenges that face musicians when they travel.

Why I offer a lifetime guarantee

My main concern is the enjoyment of my client owning and playing a Tempest guitar. I offer a lifetime warranty on all my instruments. If it’s not playing as sweetly in 10 or 15 years, I want to have it back and see what’s going on.

The difference in sound quality between a factory-made guitar and a bespoke guitar is like night and day. Completely different.

My guitars are designed to be incredibly clear. I tailor each one to the client, brace it differently and use my knowledge to manipulate the sound to their wishes. There is no universal language in music – what does sparkly mean to one person, or bright to another? With this in mind I listen carefully to my clients, making sure I have clear requirements so that I can meet their preferences.

I have commissions that will take me through to 2025, and perhaps Tempest Guitars will turn into something bigger.  For as long as I am working, it’s important that I stand by the integrity of the business pillars I set at the beginning – to focus on crafting the finest quality guitars, using responsibly sourced materials, whilst employing people on a fair wage.

Want to find out more about Daisy or connect?

Visit tempestguitars.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TempestGuitars

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tempestguitars/

Daisy’s latest video:

Making a Damascus Steel Knife from Guitar Strings

Have you invested in a Tempest guitar?

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