My Approach


Welcome to my website

My father was a carpenter. No-one could have known my father and not seen his regard for craftsmanship skills and striving for perfection. But, as a grammar school
boy, I was expected to be something 'better' so I took a BSc. Botany degree at London University in 1968 and went, through a post-graduate year, into biology teaching
in 1969.

Increasingly, through the years, woodwork became a very useful hobby ~ sometimes a paying hobby ~ and led me into writing about woodwork.
I submitted articles to magazines and found this rewarding and lucrative. Writing about my projects had the effect of urging me on to always be pushing myself and
trying something new. So, over a number of years I have had experience of many aspects of woodworking... then I tried guitarmaking... That was over twenty years
ago now ~ I found it! ~ I don’t need to move on.

Recuperation from illness allowed me some time to concentrate on building my first classical guitar as a piece of therapy. I was surprised at how well it worked out;
so I made two more and entered them into a competition. The chief judge was a well known instrument maker so I wasn’t expecting much more than constructive
criticism. What I got was a silver medal and a gold medal and a great deal of congratulations.

On this evidence of some talent I gave up teaching and became a full time Luthier at the end of 1994. I suppose I might tell you of the master builders I have
studied under but the fact is that I am completely self-taught. Never mind that, I am hidebound by no master's prejudices, the instruments speak for me.

News ~ March 2017

Well, I promised some exciting news this month and here it is!

I am now 72 years of age and have to accept that only a finite number of guitar constructions will follow. I have made classical guitars commercially for just over 20 years.
If I judge by the number of customers who have bought more than one guitar from me and those who have had their spouse, duo partner and/or students buy from me,
I feel I have been successful. The design of the Classical Guitar, like the violin, is  rather clearly defined and most classical guitarists want the standard instrument.
But I have had some of my own ideas as to what is effective in guitar construction and playing and have introduced some innovations outside of the standard design.
I feel it is time now to put more of myself and my ideas into the remaining instruments to be constructed. I therefore propose to concentrate on two particular designs:-

Short scale length:-
I have been successful in producing concert pitch instruments for those with smaller hands or reach problems at 600mm scale length.
These I would like to continue to produce to order. Projected standard price from 4,000 with Hiscox case.

The Jazz Classical:-
This is the "Supercutaway" design. A Nylon strung guitar where the thumb position at the back of the neck can continue to fret 16 (that is higher than a ‘Strat’).
This guitar will play all the classical repertoire but will also allow the jazz guitarist to use common inversions higher than on a standard classical.
It is envisaged as being made of the most acoustic but also visually exciting timbers to the highest possible standards.
It will be fitted with a transducing saddle and socket already tested for me by professional players/customers. It will have a monitor port with removable cover.
It will be available 6 or 7-string. This will be my "Signature" model and I believe this design is unique to me at the time of writing.
Projected standard price with Hiscox case:-  6-string 7,250; 7-string 7,750.

I would welcome considered opinions and reactions.

Please email me with comments and advance interest. (From the MENU or below.)

Response to a recent commission for a player in Australia:

Rik Middleton has come to Oz in the guise of an elegantly crafted classical guitar
specially made for a Western Australian
friend who commented as follows:

“Rik is a very fine luthier and this particular hand-crafted guitar displays his many gifts.
The Instrument is constructed of flamed maple with a spruce top and a rosette of circular rings
in the manner of some of Torres’ early guitars. The recipient specifically requested a Torres style
guitar and Rik has produced the goods. The instrument is easy to play and has Rik’s subtly arced
finger-board which makes barring a breeze. The intonation is spot on and the tone is very refined.
This much-loved guitar will be my preferred instrument for many years to come.”

I am now also selling completed guitars

From time to time, I shall also be offering finished guitars for immediate purchase.
Hand built to the same exacting
standards used for my custom made guitars, these are ideal for the player who
needs a quality instrument but who
is unable to wait for one to be built to order.
This can happen when a treasured instrument is lost, stolen or damaged and an immediate replacement is required.
Watch this space!

New timbers

I am pleased to announce that my Flamed Mango has aged sufficiently for me to offer it alongside my existing options.
If you are not familiar with this grain pattern, try Google images or, if you can't visit, ask me for a picture.
I also have some African and Andaman Island Padauk, which is brightly coloured and is exceptional acoustically.
For fingerboards, I shall soon be offering Bog Oak, which is as black as the best Ebony but adds an Oak medullary ray figure.

Please Note:

Apart from my (all too) rare holidays, I always reply promptly to all e-mail enquiries.
So, if you do not receive a prompt reply, please feel free to 'phone me (on the number below).

For existing owners

If you use the MENU bar on the left to visit the 'adjustments' page, I deal with some of
the issues you may encounter while playing one of my guitars in your own personal style.
This page also carries a guide to fret dressing and information on cleaning your guitar and some comments on the strings I use ~
and why ~ which may help those of you who do not have a strong, personal preference but enjoyed the original sound of the guitar.

Whilst the information may help you on its own, owners of my guitars should always feel that they can contact me to discuss any issues.

Additionally, if you own one of my guitars, you might like to register your address and serial number with me as a security back-up.
The contact information is at the bottom of this page.

Over to you ...

For better than a quarter century, I was a secondary school biology teacher, so I spoke
to some 150 people a day, shouted at some and had intellectual conversations with others.
Now, I work alone in my own workshop. It's a bit like being a hermit. So, not surprisingly, I'm pleased when people get in touch.
Imagine my delight at getting e-mails out of the blue, like the unsolicited testimonials at the end of the 'my approach' page.
So please feel free to e-mail me with your thoughts on my guitars, guitars in general, music, art, politics, religion ~ the Cosmos!

Guitarist Profiles

Michael Martin

"Rik's guitar is a dream to play! Made from Spruce and Rosewood I happened upon it by chance.
One dark and stormy afternoon in January 2007 I took refuge in the Spanish Guitar Centre Bristol.
I decided to play a few concert guitars. I picked up Rik's guitar never having heard of him.
About three bars into Una Limosna (by Barrios) it struck me that this was an exceptional box.
I decided to pay Rik a visit. He showed me a variety of guitars.
Some were made of very exotic woods and there certainly was a characteristic 'feel' to his instruments for the left hand.
The attractive appearance was a bonus because that aspect means little if the sound won't work for you!"

His < website > enables you to hear him play and hear the sound of his Middleton guitar.
Also see: https://youtube/Bv5Ej9Mtxxg

Colin Chettle

I constructed a guitar to order for Colin Chettle who, in addition to other requirements, needed a left-handed guitar.
Colin visited me on a number of occasions during the construction of the guitar and took pictures.
I felt that it would be interesting to hear what it feels like to witness a guitar being made especially for you.
So I asked him to write an article to go with those pictures and the result is < here >

Matthew Sear

“My Rik Middleton guitar is my main guitar and has been since I was introduced to the Middleton range in 2002.
The ease of play is superb and the guitar helps me attain the kind of expression I need when performing.
The subtlety of tone is rich and warm and the dynamic range extremely responsive.
I am proud to be associated with Rik Middleton guitars.”
Visit Matthew's website < here >
Listen to 'S.L Weiss - Fantasie in C minor' played on a Middleton guitar < here >

Roger Montgomery

If you follow the links from Roger's website < here > you will see him playing three of his own compositions on his Middleton guitar.
Please remember that the sound you hear is somewhat limited by this method of presentation and the often moderate quality of a computer's sound system.

How to contact me

E-mail me at:

Telephone me on: 02477 677964 (UK)
International: +44 2477 677964


2001-2017: Rod Ballington Productions
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