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Jim Redgate
Belair, South Australia
Spring 1997
"I started building guitars from an unconventional beginning and I am totally self taught. I believe this and the relative isolation of Australia from the mainstream field of luthiers in the rest of the world has helped me and other Australian guitar builders to develop new and revolutionary ideas in classical guitar construction.
Jim Redgate and his cat, Romeo
"My skills playing the guitar enable me to competently evaluate instruments from a players perspective, which is extremely important in producing fine instruments. After completing my degree, I decided to pursue my guitar building as a career and initially supported myself by instrumental teaching until I became a full time luthier in 1992.

"I was born in 1963 in London and my family emigrated to Australia in 1966. My father was something of a handyman and taught me many skills with wood at an early age. In school I often irritated my woodworking teachers because I could complete the set projects better than them and in half the time! I also achieved high grades in other subjects and was particularly interested in science. Despite this, I left school at age 15 to pursue a trade in plumbing. (I have not yet heard of any other guitar maker plumbers!) I received numerous awards for my work at trade school including top apprentice two years running and much to the surprise and disappointment of my employer, as soon as I finished my trade, I left my job to pursue a career in music. I was 19 years old and around this time I decided to build my first guitar. I had been driven to this by a botched repair on one of my guitars by a local repair business. I remember waiting about four weeks and being charged a large sum of money and my guitar still had a bent neck. I decided to attempt the repair myself and after heating the neck loose with my mother's hair drier on the kitchen table, I reset the neck and fixed the problem. Boosted by the success of this project, I decided to purchase some wood and begin building a guitar for myself. At this time I was studying music and theory at college which, after a year, gave me the appropriate skills to enter a Certificate of Music Performance course. I completed this in 1985 and was accepted into the Elder Conservatorium of Music to study for a performance degree. I finished this in 1988 with high marks. During my degree I performed on guitars, which I had built, in many solo and ensemble concerts and won a study scholarship.

Redgate - 2 guitars "The first guitar I built took me almost a year to complete because there was no subject matter available and the wood and tools were so difficult to find. I was fortunate that my guitar teachers from the Conservatorium were also dealers in guitars, and I started doing repairs on their instruments. I worked on many great guitars such as Romanillos, Hauser, Fleta, Rameriz, Smallman and Howell. By studying the construction of these guitars I was able to teach myself the fundamentals and attention to detail necessary to build a world class guitar. Eventually, after building copies of some of these guitars, I mastered the building of instruments along traditional lines and began experimenting with new techniques and materials. Since then, my guitars have been gaining a reputation for excellence in Australia, and since 1995 when I began marketing overseas, in the USA, Asia and Europe. I now build around 20 guitars per year from my home workshop which sell to performers and collectors around the world.
"The differences between my guitars and a typical traditional instrument lie in thee main areas: The soundboard, the back and sides and the neck."

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