AN ARTISAN guitar maker, who has toured with some of the country’s most famous bands, is set to become big in Japan.
Fintry-based Michael Ritchie secured an order for his hand made classical guitars from a dealership in Tokyo in December and approached Business Gateway Stirling for advice on how to capitalise on the interest.
The 40-year-old, who has been making guitars for 11 years and has toured as a ‘guitar tech’ for Belle & Sebastian since 2003, and has also worked over the years with Franz Ferdinand, David Gray and Deacon Blue, hopes the order will help him break into the lucrative Far East market.
He said: “Each year I hand craft between 10 to 12 guitars from beautiful, sustainable timber. Each guitar is unique, taking four to five weeks to make and cost from £4000 to £6000.
“I have sold guitars in America and Europe but when I was approached by the Tokyo dealer I realised there was a huge untapped market in the Far East.
“I went to Business Gateway looking for advice on how I could capitalise on the interest from Tokyo.
“I wanted to know what I needed to do to get my guitars into shops in other countries in the Far East such as China, South Korea, and Singapore. My adviser has been helpful and aims to provide marketing assistance.”
Sandy Slater, business adviser, Business Gateway, said: “Michael is an exceptional craftsman, producing beautiful guitars that are enjoyed by their owners in the UK, Germany, America and Spain.
“We will work closely with him to ensure his business capitalises on the interest being generated in Japan.
“Michael also highlights that Business Gateway services aren’t just designed to support new businesses, we are here to provide existing companies with specific assistance that will help them grow.
“We hope that by working with us, he will soon see guitarists throughout the Far East buy, and play, one of his beautifully crafted instruments.”
A frustrated guitarist in his youth, Michael – who showcases his guitars on www.michaelritchie.co.uk – discovered that his talent with the instrument actually came from making them.
After studying the craft in Glasgow and London he moved all his tools and equipment to Spain, where he learned how to make guitars with the famous ‘Granada sound’.
He said: “Granada probably has the longest uninterrupted history of instrument making in the world.
“The methods still used by some of the makers go back to Egyptian times. The sound produced by a guitar made in the region has a very different sound to those made anywhere else in the world – they are lively, expressive and notes have ‘punch’.
“I was lucky enough to study under Rolf Eichinger who was trained by Granada’s Godfather of guitar making, Antonio Marin Montero. Learning from him was an incredible experience which has helped my business thrive.”
For more information on how Business Gateway can help your business grow, visit www.bgateway.com or call 0845 609 6611. Alternatively contact the Stirling office office directly on 01786 463416.