A BUSINESS featuring the North-East’s first guitar-building school has announced plans to expand after being sold to new owners.

The musical enterprise, based at Shotton Colliery, has been renamed East Durham Guitars after being acquired by directors Martin Dixon, Dave Olsen, and Paul Wigham.

The friends, who share a passion for guitars, have bought the company from entrepreneur Peter Claes, who has decided to focus on other business interests.

“We’re so excited to be taking over such an innovative business and plans are in place to build on the success it’s enjoyed so far,” said Martin (pictured below), a highly experienced luthier, who grew up in Peterlee.

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Martin, who has been building guitars by hand for nearly 40 years, has sold instruments all over the world, with famous customers including rock band Saxon.

He has also been a tutor at Leeds College of Music, and started working with the North East Guitar Building School when it was launched earlier this year.

“When the opportunity arose to buy the business, it seemed the natural thing to do, and we’re looking forward to growing the existing parts while also developing the retail side,” he said.

East Durham Guitars will encompass several guitar-related businesses and services. The North East Guitar Building School will continue to provide a range of courses, while Luthier Crafts will supply specialist timbers, guitar bodies and necks, guitar kits, and guitar parts.

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The business will also supply custom-built guitars, a repair service, workshop facilities, and a new on-site shop selling the company’s own guitars, plus other brands, and a range of guitar accessories.

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Dave is one of Martin’s former students and regular customers, while Paul used to run a guitar shop in Durham, called River Guitars.

As well as the three directors, Mark Taylor will play a key role in sales and marketing, while local Shotton lad, Ricky Hutchinson, will continue to be employed as an apprentice luthier.

“We’ve got huge expertise and passion in the business, and we want to become known as a one-stop-shop for everything relating to guitars,” added Martin.

“The school has been doing really well, with bookings increasing and repeat customers, so we’ve got more courses lined up for the new year.”

The business is based at Unit 6, Front Street Industrial Estate, Shotton, DH6 2ND, and an open day is to be held on December 9, between 10am and 4pm. The day will include refreshments, plus a prize draw to win an electric guitar worth £250.

“We think we are doing something unique for the North-East, so our message is to come down and see what we can offer,” said Martin.

  • To find out more, go to www.luthiercrafts.com