Richard Lucas, Electric Guitar Maker
Hi! I’m Richard Lucas, a luthier that creates custom instruments for guitar enthusiasts and professional musicians at my home workshop in suburban Melbourne. My guitars can be found being brandished on domestic and international stages from pubs to blues clubs, theatres to music halls. I also run a highly-regarded repair business, and hand-make pickups from mild to wild.
I built my first electric guitar nearly ten years ago. It was an audacious neck-thru, Dean ML-inspired beast with a Brazilian Mahogany neck and Ebony fretboard, Floyd-Rose tremolo and Schaller M6 tuners. Although capturing the feel of a world-class instrument was a little while off at that stage, I was amazed at how good the guitar sounded and the feedback from venue audiences and other musicians really turned a small flame of interest into a full-blown obsession.
“I make my guitars using whatever means I feel necessary to achieve the best possible result.”
Beginnings and Inspiration
My ‘education’ as a guitar maker is probably different than you’d imagine, though I doubt that two luthiers ever learnt their craft in the same way. From early boyhood to my youth I played classical violin. Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, all the big names. The watershed moment for me was when I heard a Strat played loud through the PA at my primary school’s bush dance. The look and sound of an electric guitar was just so gripping, it was something I just had to have. But growing up of modest means and a strong classical family background meant that I would not own my very own electric until much later. Once I got it, however, the world changed.
Within a few years I had learnt to play half of Joe Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien album and Metallica’s …And Justice For All in its entirety. Then a friend handed me Asturias by Isaac Albeniz, I think as a kind of challenge. Asturias, especially for me with zero knowledge of classical guitar technique was a seriously demanding piece of music. I’m never one to back away from a challenge however, and before I knew it I was practicing 4 hours a day and dreaming of a trip to Spain.
During this time I had a custom guitar made, a world-class classical, built by Sydney-based luthier Zbigniew Gnatek. The guitar took months to build (and just as long for me to save up for), but the experience of having a great instrument built for me became firmly lodged in my subconscious mind. I remember thinking at the time ‘I could do this’ and Zbigniew’s cavern-like workshop just seemed so appealing. With a strong school and professional background in creating a variety of functional objects – and a highly awarded grounding in mechanics, it was only a matter of time before my love of music caused the two pasts to collide and pave the way for the future.
In 2007 my band was playing regular gigs, and I was using a US-made Jackson Soloist (SL2H). I really wanted a second guitar as a backup just in case a I broke a string live or some other tragedy befell the instrument in the heat of performance. Pitching my need to buy another $3K+ instrument to my then-fiancée (soon to be wife) perhaps wasn’t the best survival strategy I could come up with, so I decided to build one myself. I delved headlong into the web, buying e-books and reading every guitar building article I could get my hands on. I lashed out on expensive woods and made expensive mistakes. Then I did it again and again until people began telling me that my guitars deserved to be in a gallery rather than hiding out in my bedroom or the boot of my car.
Then and Now
Fast forward almost a decade and my guitars have found their way into the hands of some really great players. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with renowned pickup maker Jim Dyson. As well as making the pickups for my own custom guitars I also make Jim’s highly-regarded and tonally-rich pickups under license.
My guitars are aimed squarely at the enthusiast/professional end of the market. From my luthiery beginnings with a Gnatek classical and a US-made Jackson as benchmarks, the only way was up! I make my guitars using whatever means I feel necessary to achieve the best possible result, whether that be the old-fashioned way with a rasp, plane and spokeshave for ultimate feel, or using precise modern aids such as custom-designed laser-cut templates for surgical precision.
You’ll find my workshop to be a welcoming place, and whether you’re looking for your very own bespoke Lucas guitar, a setup or repair on your pride and joy or a new set of pickups to hone your tone, you’ll find a fellow enthusiast that’s willing to take the time to understand your needs and provide a genuinely unique and valuable service.
I look forward to meeting you soon.