West Dean Guitar Festival 2022

McClaren Guitars at West Dean Guitar Festival 2022

The West Dean Guitar Festival returned for the first time in a few years!

The course which is organised by Andrew Gough, runs over 4 days, and includes an intensive timetable of events and instruction in a wide range of areas; repertoire classes, ensemble performing, guitar orchestra, individual lessons, ‘the Learning Zones’, and solo masterclasses. It is held at the stunning venue, West Dean College. Famous for its spectacular 6,350 acres of land, and art courses that it runs throughout the year.

This years concerts were performed by Daniela Rossi, Hugh Millington, Gary Ryan and Mēla Guitar Quartet.

The teachers for this years classical guitar festival were Mark Ashford, Alison Bendy, Raymond Burley, Gerald Garcia, Daniela Rossi, Gary Ryan and Helen Sanderson.

West Dean Guitar Festival 2022 Open Day

The guitar festival is held in West Sussex, which meant I had a long drive ahead of me on one of the hottest days of the year.

The open day usually takes part on the Sunday during the festival, and welcomes guitar makers, and music shops.

The stalls allow the students to wander around, talk to guitar makers, try their guitars out and students can also buy other products from Classical Guitar Centre Birmingham and Universal Editions.

The guitar makers showcasing this year included luthiers such as myself, Stuart Christie, Miles Henderson Smith, Stephen Eden and Mark Arnott. Mark Ashford performed a piece on each guitar during the makers showcase concert. It gave us the opportunity to tell the audience about our guitars and then for it to be performed by a fantastic guitarist.

The two guitars that I took to West Dean Guitar Festival 2022, was the McClaren Concert Classical guitar, and the McClaren P-8 guitar. Both guitars were received well, despite offering different features. The concert classical is a 640mm scale length guitar, it has a Spruce top with Indian Rosewood back and sides, and excels in its acoustic sound. The P-8 guitar, has a cedar top with Indian Rosewood back and sides, and excels in both acoustic and plug in sound. This guitar is classed as a nylon crossover guitar, with a slight radius in the fingerboard, and a slightly narrower nut width than that of the concert classical model.

Pictured above is Oliver Manning playing a McClaren Concert Classical guitar. Oliver was one of this years bursary students for the West Dean Guitar Festival 2022, and has been studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Journey home

The next day, I popped by to see an old friend, Will McNicol. Will is a fantastic nylon and steel string player, as well as being a very good composer and teacher. We had a good catch up, and I showed Will the new P-8 guitar, and its capabilities through an acoustic amp. Fortunately Will loved it, and was full of praise for the crossover guitar, especially for its ease of playability and natural sound through the amp.

Despite the horrendous traffic on my way back home, it was a great trip out for the festival. Seeing old friends and new. As well as hearing my guitars played by some great musicians, which helps fuel me to make more guitars. Back to the workshop!

McClaren Guitars at West Dean Guitar Festival
McClaren Guitars at West Dean Guitar Festival 2022

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My Goal is to make guitars that Artists swear by. Guitars that are astounding in quality, but will also never let you down

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