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Worthy Guitars / Wintonbeast / 2014 / Guitar

The Wintonbeast ,built for Andrew Winton is a good example of what can happen when the build brief is well, brief. Andrew and I had only met a few times on my visits to Western Australia, and we both knew we wanted to collaborate somehow. This is the result.

We eventually settled on 7 strings and something that could sound "orchestral" with a tuning of A a E a e' a'' b'' (of course) Since its birth the beast has been played at major festivals all over Australia, the SXSW festival in Texas, venues in New York and Canada.
For more about Andrew, gigs, Cds etc visit

The attached article was first published in the autumn 2006 edition of the Guild of American Lutherie quarterly journal. (

I don't know how the more unusual projects get off the ground for most people, but I vaguely remember a campfire beside the Guinness tent at the Fairbridge Folk Festival (about an hour's drive south of Perth in Western Australia), and the usual guitar-head beer-talk that naturally ensues. Somehow eighteen months later I sent Andrew Winton a drawing with(almost) every silly idea I could think of for him to consider --- and to my surprise he said "Yeah, looks great!" So I built it. Andrew lives in Perth. I live in Melbourne, 2500 miles away.

The brief proposed seven strings, the word "orchestral" was in there, and the word "piano,'" and of course "lapsteel." Andrew's final preferred tuning was A E a' E a"e' b. String gauges run (low to high) .082", .045", .056",.045", .032", .017", .017", with the two low Es in unison. The first six strings have a 27" scale; the 7th has a 36"scale. The top is western red cedar, the back and sides are Australian blackwood, as is the neck. It is bound in curly maple, and all the black is ebony. It was built in the Spanish style and required a few little inventions on the way.

I gave up trying to draw plans up for the neck/head/fingerboard extension, and instead built a dummy version from balsa and sent it to Andrew. I think the photos will explain.

In one of the photos you see my three-year-old daughter, Lucy, and the Beast.

Another photo shows the top/sides/neck assembly ready to receive the back. There are two open bars: one in front of and one behind the bridge plate. These bars are a cedar and carbon fiber laminate as I wasn't sure of the final tuning or tension at the time.

Also in the photos you can see how the open bars are let into the side braces, hopefully to transfer some of the "weight" to the sides.

The fretboard extension is ebony faced in West Australian Sheoak. The arch is to allow the 6th string to pass through to its tuner. The string is diverted around a stainless-steel post supported by two bearings mounted inside the head. The bottom string passes over its own nut which is set into a piece of Gidgee (a desert hardwood -harder then ebony). I made the nut removable for ease of future adjustment. It sits on two brass pins which locate it.

The instrument was finished and sent across the country last November. Andrew was in the process of recording his third album, and was sweating its arrival since he had to first "learn" how to play it. But the CD was released in January and he has since toured nationally.

The build was a real journey with a lot of up and downs, but it has rekindled my interest in harp guitars. (Oh dear!) When Andrew received it, he said he was in shock for a day or two! Since then he says the instrument has opened up a new playing style which he is still evolving.

My "other job'' as a theatre-production manager will take me "over west" later this year as I tour Australia and New Zealand with the Russian Imperial Ice Ballet; so I look forward to seeing how Andrew and the Beast are getting on.

In the early stages I referred Andrew to some websites --- Harry Fleishman's and, in particular, Fred Carlson's, just to see if we could break out of the mold on this project --- break what I call the tyranny of symmetry. We didn't quite do it this time , but I look forward to the next opportunity.

The listing here is shown for showcase purpose only. Not for sale. Previously built for customer.

If you have an interest in my work, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Instrument sold

Worthy Guitars, Australia  

Contact name:
David Worthy
Worthy Guitars
Opening hours: - (+61) 3 5968 9986

Tucked away behind the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne, I build a number of different guitars with a focus on custom orders.

All guitars feature solid timbers with timber bindings, quality machine heads and attention to the fine detail expected from a custom instrument. Wherever possible I encourage customers to have input into the appointments of their guitar to ensure their instrument is truly unique.

Over the years I have developed a few signature models such as the “Talisman” (a small jumbo) with the option of venetian or florentine cutaways ; a 12 fret 00 style – “Vintage” and the “Sunbeam” - a cutaway 12 fret. Vintage and Sunbeams are also available as 14 fret instruments. Many of the other custom orders are featured on this site, and as new guitars are completed they too will be featured.

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