At the 2010 Bristol Guitar Show, one UK based guitar manufacturer really stood out to me showcasing their own twist on some classic guitar designs. Beryl Guitars is a new independent UK based guitar company who are producing extremely high quality instruments at very affordable & competitive prices. Guitar Jar caught up with Company Director Phil Preece to ask him more about the exciting products Beryl are due to launch later this year.
…we operate a by musicians for musicians ethos – all of the team here are musicians and understand the requirements and needs of the guitarist…
Beryl Studio T at the 2010 Bristol Guitar Show
- Hi Phil, before get into the details of the Beryl guitar range of products, can you tell Guitar Jar readers if you play the guitar and if so, what/who influenced you to start learning?
Hi Guitar Jar, yes I do play the guitar and I’m a real guitar fan at heart. I was surrounded by music from an early age, the listening to that is. Both of my parents are big fans and listeners of music in general, I guess some of that must have rubbed off on me somewhere along the way. I was actually given my first guitar at an early age by a relative who was about to bin it, I showed an interest in it and claimed it as my own.Although I owned this beaten up classical guitar it wasn’t until much later that I took an interest in playing the thing. I remember it sat in the corner of my room for years where I would just strum the open strings in passing. When I was twelve I started professional lessons at a local school, 15 minutes a week I recall. It didn’t last long, I was thirsty for knowledge of the instrument and sought out the help of the best guitar teacher in the town. You know, the guy that everyone wants lessons with. As far as being musically influenced it was Aerosmith that started it all for me. It just sounded so loud, so cool, so ROCK!
- Beryl Guitars is a relatively new company. Can you give our readers an insight to the history of the company, how it was formed and where the company is currently at in its growth?
Absolutely, brand new in fact. We officially launch on November the 13th at the Guitar Nation London show. Regards the history of the company, I was involved with several guitar companies through being a professional musician. I just felt that now was the right time to develop our own brand. We have already received extremely positive feedback from both industry professionals and musicians. That’s what it’s all about really, reaching the end user.
- Where did the name come from?
We get asked this one quite a bit which is always interesting. Beryl is actually the name of a semi precious stone as well as being a woman’s name. We will leave the rest up to you.
- Isn’t it slightly daunting launching a guitar company – you’re up against some stiff opposition. What do you feel Beryl offers consumers that isn’t easily found with your competitors?
Oh absolutely, or at least it should be. We see the whole venture as a very exciting one rather than being daunted by the opposition. Competition is an extremely healthy thing and the market is big enough for us all to share.We operate a by musicians for musicians ethos. All of the team here are musicians and understand the requirements and needs of the guitarist; “What would we want from a guitar?” etc. We are fully independent and staying that way, we also welcome comments/feedback and feel that we are very community driven. We want people to get in touch with us and share their thoughts, now is a fantastic time to get involved. If people want us to develop a new line of guitars and there is enough demand for it then we will do it, we feel that we listen to the needs and wants of the player.
- What exactly is your role in the organisation?
My official role within the company is Company Director, this means that I oversee almost everything from design, marketing and exhibiting at shows etc. As well as the general day to day running of the business itself.
- Can you tell our readers more about the range of Beryl guitars available?
Our current line of guitars include the Studio T and Studio ST models that make up our Studio range of guitars. Our whole ethos is based around quality product, there is nothing cheap about our guitars. We use the best tonewoods which comprise of American Alder bodies, Canadian Hard Rock Maple necks and Indian Rosewood fingerboards. Add to this a pearl pickguard and Abalone inlays for guitars that just ooze playability and character.
- You’ve chosen some classic models to base your first guitars on. Have you considered designing a new body shape? Do you feel that new shapes can easily break into the market?
Yes, we felt that musicians like a certain amount of familiarity. We are creatures of habit actually, that’s why we started with two very familiar body shapes. It’s our take on two classic designs but with a Beryl twist.Regards a new body shape; the whole company was born out of an original shape. We just felt that we needed to establish the brand first instead of trying to reinvent the wheel from day one. I guess the shape is closest to a PRS but in a very loose sense, it’s a very unique shape actually but that’s the closest thing that springs to mind. We would love to see this design go into production at some point, who knows.
- Was it difficult to design a headstock shape?
Well for something that you would think would be relatively easy to design it was actually one of the most difficult things to come up with. We are all so familiar with classic shapes and we didn’t want to go odd just for the sake of it. We found that just one slight change to the headstock changes the whole look of the guitar, you also need to be careful that the shape doesn’t already exist. A few months and a lot of paper and pencils later we came up with our unique Beryl Wave Style headstock design. It’s pretty much universal across our guitar line. Very elegant, simple but classy. We love it!
- What about the choice of pickups in Beryl guitars? Would you consider using companies such as Bare Knuckle Pickups?
It’s funny that you say that, we do have an account with Bare Knuckle and they are a great bunch of guys making some fantastic pickups. In the end we decided to go with our own custom wound pickups specifically matched to the requirements of each guitar. We just felt that if you give people Seymour Duncans then they want Dimarzios and vice versa, it’s all about personal choice at the end of the day. We believe our pickups to be of a very high standard and offer many tonal variations.
Beryl Studio ST at the 2010 Bristol Guitar Show
Rumour has it you are also launching a range of effects pedals? Can you shed any light on that?
Correct, that’s the plan anyway. That could be a Guitar Jar exclusive, you heard it here first folks. We are currently in the design stage, we would hope to release some pedals in mid to late 2011. The idea is to release several high quality hand built boutique pedals. At this stage the guitars are the main focus though, that’s where we’re at right now.
- Do you have an endorsement programme? If so, what do guitarists need to do to sign up with Beryl?
Absolutely, the usual stuff applies really. We review every submission on a case by case basis, just send a press pack over to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Obviously experience, exposure, technical ability, public awareness and overall passion all help.
- Have any leading performing artists expressed any interest in your products?
Several actually although nothing is set in stone at this point. Watch this space!
- What was the last gig you attended?
Now that’s a tough one, I just realised that we have spent that long establishing the company and designing guitars that I can’t remember. It’s coming back to me now; through Beryl Guitars we get to exhibit at many great venues across the UK. At a recent show there was a male and female duo of acoustic guitarists. In amongst all of the electric guitar shred you could see and hear them performing on a nearby stand. The whole place stopped and listened, they were playing all sorts of classic arrangements between the two of them. Covering all of the parts of classic recordings, they sounded huge like a guitar orchestra. Fantastic chops too.
- What albums are you currently listening to?
I am currently listening to Robert Plant’s Band of Joy Album, it has pretty much been on non stop all week. In fact I’m listening to Angel Dance right now, he just seems to get better with age which is crazy considering just how good Led Zeppelin were all those years ago. Robert Plant is a local guy, maybe he would be interested in a Beryl guitar? Who knows.
- A DeLorean Time Machine has just pulled up outside the Beryl office. Where would you like to go on the Beryl timeline? Would you go back to rectify any mistakes, stay where you are or take a sneak peek in the future?
Good question. I wouldn’t go back, there have been a few small bumps along the way but you learn from these which makes you more experienced in the long run. I might take a quick peek into the future as that really excites me to see where we will be in years to come. To be honest I’m happy right here right now, we are in a good place with a good vibe. Life is good.
- What’s your favourite Beryl guitar?
I actually like them all, how do you choose your favourite child? If I had to make a decision though I would go for the Studio T, good solid slab of wood with masses of low end. Very versatile all round in fact.
- Can I have one? 😉
Yeah sure thing! The Studio T retails at £599.99 and the Studio ST at £699.99. I’m positive that we could sort something out if you were interested, after all if you don’t ask you don’t get. (I’m asking! Please endorse me! 😉 Sam)
- Lager or Cider?
Tough call, how about a Snakebite!
- What are the plans for Beryl guitars during the next 12 months?
Well at the moment it’s all about establishing the brand and working with the designs that we have. I would like to think that we will be in a position to get some new guitar designs out there and also a selection of pedals within the next 12 months. We would love your readers to get involved and let us know their thoughts.Big thanks to Guitar Jar and all of it’s readers, it’s been a blast.
For more information about Beryl guitars, please visit: