Five brilliant bespoke musical instrument makers

Specialists that strike a chord

BJ & Byrne Apollo, from £2,250
BJ & Byrne Apollo, from £2,250

BJ & Byrne guitars

Originally based in London and now headquartered in the US state of Virginia, BJ & Byrne still makes guitars by hand in the UK. Its customisable handmade instruments use a stable, durable and sustainable wood named Accoya that is far lighter than its hardwood counterparts. The commissioning process begins with a choice of model, then moves on to the selection of the pickups (sensors that detect the sound), which are all hand-wound in Devon, and the tremolo, which can be made in gold, chrome or steel. Options for the scratchplate include managed African ebony, Accoya beech, Accoya ash and plastic pearloid, while the body itself can be made in any colour. From £2,250; 07887-773 300; bj-byrne.com. BEATRICE AIDIN

Goldfinch The Baby, £475,000
Goldfinch The Baby, £475,000
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Goldfinch pianos

Fabulous bespoke pianos combining technical virtuosity with eye-catching forms and decoration are Goldfinch’s forte. Handcrafting instruments at workshops in Cambridge, this family-run business specialises in elevating fully functional pianos into musical artworks (£200,000 to over £1m) designed to enhance an interior space. One client commissioned a cube-shaped piano; others have ordered pianos with completely carved exteriors to co-ordinate with wood carvings in their homes. An ability to breathe new life into vintage pianos also sets Goldfinch apart. Examples include a turn-of-the-century Bechstein that was restored then decorated with whimsical, eastern-inspired imagery and given a glossy, hand-lacquered finish. 20-24 Pierce Lane, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5DL (01223-881 691; goldfinchpianos.com). NICOLE SWENGLEY

The Acoustic Music Company Oracle, £11,495
The Acoustic Music Company Oracle, £11,495
Piano Design by The Piano Shop Bath Kawai RX-3, £24,995
Piano Design by The Piano Shop Bath Kawai RX-3, £24,995

The Acoustic Music Company guitars

It is bespoke commissions that hit the most harmonious of notes at this shop in Brighton. While mass producers might make more than 300 guitars every day, most of the store’s North American craftsmen create just 10 to 12 guitars per year. Customers can design their own inlays, plus select customised fanned frets, arm and rib bevels. A visit to the south-coast shop to discuss ideas with owner Trevor Moyle – with personal appointments outside shop hours – also offers the opportunity to use its acoustically neutral playing room to select tonal characteristics. This supremely personal process can take up to two years. From £4,000; 39 St James’s Street, Brighton BN2 1RG (01273-671 841; theacousticmusicco.co.uk). CAMILLA APCAR

Gibson limited edition Les Paul Ice Flame, $8,199
Gibson limited edition Les Paul Ice Flame, $8,199
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Piano Design by The Piano Shop Bath

In the hands of bespoke specialist Piano Design by The Piano Shop Bath (previously known as 88 Keys), a beloved upright or grand piano can be harmonised to home decor (from £1,500), thanks to a colour-matching service that works to any paint hue or fabric sample, while both vintage and new instruments can be treated to an array of coloured, textured and metallic finishes. The team uses specialist hand-application methods in its Bath workshops: pianos can be vinyl-wrapped in myriad patterns and colours or painted (from £3,000), while a copper coating or other metal finish (from around £15,000 for an upright or £30,000 for a grand) can carry on oxidising after application or be sealed to stop the process. 1-2 Canton Place, Bath BA1 6AA (01225-427 961; thepianoshopbath.co.uk). JENNY DALTON

Gibson guitars

The style names of these guitars are themselves the stuff of rock legend – to own one is every amateur strummer’s dream. Each year, on top of its standard releases, the Nashville-based brand produces a Custom Shop range of special edition and vintage-inspired models. For those wanting to take personalisation a step further, Gibson offers its bespoke Made2Measure service (from £3,600), which enables clients to specify every detail of their chosen iconic model, from body finish to fretboard design, electronics, pickup and neck size and weight. Electric Les Pauls, SGs and ES-335s, Firebirds, Explorers and Flying Vs are all available to order, as are storied acoustic models such as J45s, Hummingbirds and J200s. gibson.com. TIM AULD

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