Gordon Smith Guitars are UK guitar manufacturers founded in 1974 by Gordon Whitham and John Smith. This post will not be a potted history of the company. It is my opinion of one of our heritage music instrument brands. In fact it is our oldest continuous guitar production companies. That means they have seen quite a few music genres. It was a major player in the punk scene but they certainly are not just confined to one style in the modern era.
My interaction with them came from my love of single P90 guitars. I did not want to go the main brand route as I have done that many times before with variable results. I also usually like to play a guitar before deciding. I am a fan of active and passive pick ups so a P90 single cut was always going to be on the table of choice. After playing quite a few branded guitars I came across a review of Gordon Smith. The company had been bought by Auden guitars and it was an article regarding the history. I specced a guitar on the Smith website and, with extras like stainless frets, ebony fingerboard etc, it was a good price. I expected it to take quite a while but it took just a few months. When it came it played like a dream and looked exceptional. The finish was natural and looked exactly what I was after. The P90 pick up was as good as I had played before and the neck adjustment was at the base, just where it should be for convenience. I was hooked.
So a guitar building company in the UK with a long history, why had I never heard of them before? I could be totally wrong here but common brands, not that I am stating they are bad (I have a few good players myself), to me it is down to advertising and flooding musicians with the feeling of inspirational instruments. YouTube does seem to help with this as there are two tubers that started their own brands and have been very successful. This has to be comended as both are supplying instruments that are wanted by viewers. I follow a number of YouTube guitar channels and very much enjoy them. Taking the YouTubers who gear test, and those that are retail stores, it seems very much that a majority are mainstream testing. This is very entertaining and informative but just means that there are brands that do not get as much exposure. I feel Gordon Smith is a brand that has a brilliant web portal and great product. A true heritage company.
Guitarist magazine reviewed the Gordon Smith GS1000 and gave it their Gold award. The company also have open workshop days were attendies can see how the luthiers make the instruments. It is even possible to personally choose woods and have a true custom guitar built. Look out for GS at local guitar shows or visit them at Highham Ferrers.
This brings me to my latest Gordon Smith. It is a Graduate 60 single cut with a cherry mahogany cap. I received it this week. Seeing the quality and non stop playing has made me want to write this post. It is a supreme instrument in all manner of ways. The fact it was produced in the UK and took only a few months means, for me, I will go nowhere else when I want a new guitar. I have tested the GS humbuckers thoroughly today and was very impressed how both clean and dirty they can be. I have just got into Fishman Fluence pickups for heavy rock but the GS passive humbuckers are classic in tone. I like them better than my previous favourite passives which were Seymour Duncans. I bought the guitar by ordering through an independent store called Richards Guitars. Richard being very keen on customer service and going the extra mile. I recommend his YouTube channel too as he specialisies in great brands like Eastman, Auden and, of course, Gordon Smith.
In conclusion I have found all guitar manufacturers Gibson, PRS, ESP, LTD, Fender and Gretsch, to name but a few, have some great guitars. For me though I will only go to one manufacturer due to traditional techniques, quality and price. Not many guitars can match all this for me here in the UK.