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Bespoke guitar maker helped by Gateshead initiative's loan

A London-based acoustic guitar maker has been helped by funding from Gateshead creative startup initiative, Transmit Start-ups.

27 year old Luke Joseph Sharples has been able to launch his own business with funding from Transmit Start Up Loans.

Luke, who is originally from Manchester, has adapted guitars since he was 14 but decided to make his hobby a business when he left the Army in 2009.

After searching for a course in guitar-making he found a degree at London Metropolitan University in Musical Instrument Technology. When he graduated this summer he decided to create his company, Joseph Lukes Guitars.

He struggled to find any financial assistance for his all-important equipment and workshop premises until he made contact with Transmit Start-Ups, who have given him a loan to cover workshop rent for a year, funding for tools and to develop a website to attract new business.

Luke said: “The funding from Transmit is a dream come true. I know there is a gap in the market for my individually designed guitars. It is excellent that I can put all my energies into making the instruments at this stage, rather than worrying about paying the rent. Basically the business would not have got off the ground without this loan. “

Ian Straker, director, Transmit Start-Ups said: “All of the Transmit directors have extensive experience in the music industry and know at first-hand the potential for Luke’s guitars. He makes really superb hand-crafted instruments which I am sure will be snapped up by musicians when they realise how much they improve their acoustic sound as well.”

Fellow Transmit Start-Ups director Richard Myers will also be able to give Luke mentoring as he had worked for one of the UK’s leading distributors of musical instruments and has experience of working with independent guitar makers.

The guitars Luke makes are a contemporary take on the traditional acoustic model as they have no sound-hole but instead a sound-port in the ribs. This increases the resonance and projection allowing the musician to monitor their sound without compromising performance.

Sustainability is also important to his business and all of his instruments are made from replenished forests.

Each component such as the binding, neck shaping and French polishing, is done by hand from start to finish, thereby combining traditional hand-making skills with modern innovation. Joseph Lukes Guitars will produce two a month as each one can take up to 100 hours.

Luke’s ambition is to be able to take on another guitar-maker and then employ apprentices who can learn the trade in his workshop. He said: “I see my target market as musicians who will either want my guitars as an art piece or hopefully love them because of the sound they help them create. In the 18th and 19th Century London was a thriving centre of instrument-making and it would be very personally rewarding for me to continue that proud history.”

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