Guitar gently weeps for Chris, 72

Guitar gently weeps for Chris, 72


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2020

On the day that Julian Bream died, so did the leading British guitar maker Chris Eccleshall.

Trained as a luthier with W. E. Hill, his customers included the who’s who of British rock – Pete Townshend, David Bowie, Paul Weller, Sweet, The Cure, New Order and more.

Chris was 72.



  • Greg Bottini says:

    R.I.P., Mr. Eccleshall, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
    Luthiers are very special people, and are to be admired and encouraged. I’ve met a few here in the SF Bay Area; without exception they are intelligent, hard-working, and totally focused on their work. And they’re all nice folks as well!
    A question for those who may know: did Chris make only electric guitars (he had a quite impressive list of rocker clients), or did he make acoustic guitars as well? Or perhaps he branched out into other stringed instruments? One would imagine he learned a heck of a lot training with W. E. Hill.

  • Robin Del Mar says:

    Very sad. He was such a nice bloke and made us a lovely guitar which we cherished but sadly didn’t play enough.

  • David Ainslie says:

    In the late 70’s a school friend acquired a second hand Eccleshall LP junior which I fell in love with.
    A couple of years later when I was 19 I asked Chris to make me a LP junior style double cutaway guitar in 1980 when he was still based in London. The best £325 I ever spent. I still have the guitar which is one of my favourites despite now having several custom shop offerings from Fender and Gibson.
    I have also managed through the years to pick up a second hand prototype Eccleshall Scimitar and one of his excellent electric mandolins. If you are a guitarist and you have the opportunity to try one of his instruments I encourage you to do so, you will not be disappointed
    Chis was a true craftsman and in my opinion one of Britain’s best ever luthiers.
    RIP Chris Eccleshall a true gentleman.

  • Steve Rogers says:

    Yes, he also made many acoustic guitars with both flat and arch tops, carved Gibson-style mandolins, mandolas, bouzoukis, Appalachian mountain dulcimers and a solid-bodied sitar. If I remember rightly he also made a banjo or two.

    I met Chris and his family after my wife heard he had moved to Dartington from London. He beautifully refretted and rewired my 1963 Burns Sonic Model, which had been nearly unplayable, and a few months later I had become his assistant, in the lucky position of witnessing his craftsman’s wisdom and hearing anecdotes stretching back to the early 70s, the heyday of the English rock and pop guitar business. Chris was one of the first generation of respected English luthiers, alongside Tony Zemaitis and John Birch.

    He taught me so much, both explicitly and implicitly, about the faith of the craftsman and the principles of engineering. Eventually, after proving a mediocre sander, I was able to carve out my own little niche in the business, cataloguing photographs and doing the wiring, for Chris was as uninterested in control circuitry as he was in all the faffing about with mirror-finished laquer, which as a violin maker he knew was a cosmetic waste of his limited time. His idea of an electric guitar was a P90-equipped Les Paul Junior with both knobs on 10, then just play it!

    I’m very fortunate to own two inspiring, hard-working Eccleshall solid guitars (a custom Scimitar and the Barracuda prototype) and regard Chris as my mentor in understanding them. He made more than 1,000 instruments in his life. Long may they ring.

  • Ian Ross says:

    I bought a brand new electro acoustic hand made by Chris, an “F” model numbered A221, which I still have, it has a block pickup under the strings, sounds wonderful. The front now has a crazed effect as the wood blemishes. It still sounds fantastic. I rang Chris middle of last year and chatted to him, he said if I got it to him he would sort it, but he had moved to Devon by then and was working at a slower pace, we both decided to leave it until this year to have him strip it down, and refurbish the front but lockdown arrived before I could get to him. What a very sad thing to hear he has passed away. Ian Ross, very proud owner, Manchester.