Feedback and testimonials from valued clients.
I recently took my Gibson Les Paul to Phil for him to have a look at. I should say that I am a ’novice’ guitarist but everyone I speak to tells me that a guitar, no matter the manufacturer, will benefit from a good set up. I have to say I was nervous about spending the money on something I know nothing about. Phil put me at ease straight away and it was clear that not only did he know what he was talking about, he was also very professional and a thoroughly nice guy. The difference he made to the Les Paul was amazing. It is now much easier to play, it sounds miles better and for those of you who know Les Pauls - well mine now stays in tune! (Don’t be jealous - get yours done)
So pleased was I with the job that Phil did I took him my Martin acoustic. I have got it back today and I literally can’t put it down! It is a dream to play - sounds fuller, brighter, warmer, louder and (I’m a novice remember) I fretted the dreaded barre F chord first time - clear as a bell.
It is like he has given me two different guitars back to the ones I took to him.
If you are considering getting a set up - use Phil Hartley!
Thanks Phil stunning job! Will be bringing my telecaster next.
I can't believe that's the same guitar! I expected the improvements in playability, but what has shocked me is the improvement in tone. It sounds so much brighter and (for want of a better word) "stratty".
Thanks for doing such a great job of setting it up. I'm really pleased with the end result. It was also good to catch up with you.
I wanted my 1991 Gibson J200 sorting out from its wear and tear, fatigued sound and feel. After looking for someone online to do the work and reading Phil's reviews I rang him to book it in after a discussion of requirements etc., I couldn't wait but as you can expect, quality workmanship is very sought after and was booked in for 23rd September.
I've picked up my guitar tonight, frets dressed and action/neck adjusted, new nut and Kluson locking machine heads, it plays and sounds like I've never heard before, it plays beautifully now for a 30 year old acoustic guitar and my strings now have that extra zing to them, fantastic, very very pleased with the results and money well spent. Thanks very much Phil.
Played the guitar last night, tremendous, the action is so much better and easier to play, no fret buzz, and sounds brilliant.
Thanks for a fantastic job on this guitar, and also thanks for a fantastic job on the previous three guitars.
Plays like a dream - thank you.
- Alan Jackson
Phil did a great custom job on my fretless bass, the sound and playability is second to none, thanks Phil!
- Graham, Blackburn
Just to let you know, the guitar is fantastic... It now feels like I expected a Gibson 335 would be, thanks a lot for doing such a great job.
Hi Phil, The Stealth String Trees arrived today. I installed them at once and they work just fine! I may be ordering more in the future. Best regards,
- Niels (Denmark)
Just a few words to say, Great Job. Instead of ploughing a field with a spoon, is like creating a gentle breeze that carries a gentle hint on the strings of life.
Matthew loves the guitar, it has a nice strong sound to it on his amp. I'll let you know when we record some more Videos on YouTube with it. Thanks for all your hard work.
- David, Debbie and Matthew
I've been incredibly impressed with the standard of Phil's work. His set up work is second to none and the Funky Nut is by far and away the most natural of the compensated nuts I've used.
- Steve Rothery (Marillion)
Thanks for an outstanding job on my Lag (board re-radius, refret, dress and set up). Great tone and sustain - it almost plays itself! I will see you to re-fret my Ibanez in the not too distant future.
- Darren Taylor
Thanks for transforming my Stratocaster's intonation... it has NEVER sounded so sweet and in tune. I would recommend you highly to any guitarist wishing to improve their instrument's accuracy.
- Robin Hill
You said it was slick... It is more than slick! Thank you so much. The tuning is superb... You have great ears. Craftsmanship. Brilliant - and you fixed that little nick in the neck too! Really, a huge thanks.
Just a brief note to express how happy I am with the guitar.After I had got over handling it like something I'd picked up in a shop I was able to hear what a smashing job and huge favour you've done for me.
What on earth did you do to my JP6? I mean, I always liked the way it sounded but it's... well... bigger, tighter. It just sounds huge. And I'm not just talking about the new switching option. It just feels and plays amazing.
Hi Phil, Just a quick word of thanks for the mojo transplant on my SG. What a difference! How did you manage to remove those old frets and install those new fangled teflon ones? Lovely Job, thanks a million! Regards
- Steve Johnson (08 SG fret dress)
Phil has been working on my guitars for years. He's done refrets, set ups, repairs etc. I know I can trust him to produce the highest level of quality craftsmanship and attention to detail possible. I highly recommend his services.
- Johnny Heyes (Dennis Rollin's Badbone and co. / Pocket Central / Session guitarist)
Hi Phil, just thought I'd drop you a line to thank you for the excellent work you did on my guitars. I was in two minds about whether to have the Martin set up, but now I'm sure I made the right decision - I just can't put it down!
I am really, really,really digging the LTD guitar you fixed up for me...I have not been able to put it down and I want to duplicate it (before I wear it out myself), so I bought a ESP Eclipse off ebay and want you to add the Funky Nut to it and have it set up by you again.
Many thanks Phil for producing, dare I say, a better, more stable version of my Hank Marvin signature Custom Shop Strat!! It is set up perfectly for my requirements, and the timbers resonate just like my Custom Strat. And all this at a third of the price. Many thanks once again! Best wishes,
- Stuart Cosgrove
You delivered a really nice Warmoth Telecaster which also incorporates the best features of my old Hofner, meticulous workmanship. I hadn’t realised there were so many choices to be made, thanks for your patience and guidance, the education process was worth the money alone.
- Phil Woods
Just a quick note to thank you for your work on my Epiphone Nighthawk. It plays and sounds great and I am really pleased with it. I also really enjoyed our chats on both my recent visits. As promised, if I do manage to learn a decent solo for Mr. Big I will invite you to my 60th do next March.
- Richard Cleary
Just a quickie to say cheers v much for your work on my battered bass - I had my first practice with the band on Wednesday & it has really been transformed (for the good, obviously!). It's much easier to play now & I really enjoyed playing it - it's like a new instrument (blub!) Cheers again
Wow, what a difference that made... It's like a new guitar!!! The new pick up sounds fantastic & the overall playability has improved ten-fold!!! I had a good guitar (Gibson SG Pete Townsend), but now I have a great guitar. Cheers Phil, I shall be back for the same treatment for my other baby's!
Phil has been setting up and building guitars for me for a long time. If you were to tell me you know of someone who has more expertise with guitars I simply wouldn't believe you. Phil's knowledge and attention to detail are incredible. If you would like your guitar to reach it's potential, look no further.
Thanks so much for doing my guitar. I am really pleased with it. One of the most pleasing things is the way it is MUCH better to play between the 12th and 19th frets, I did get a buzz sometimes up there and now it is superb, plus the tone and intonation is terrific. Thanks again, I appreciate a quality service,
- Jim Wood
Thanks for the AMAZING job you did on my '63 Strat. I never dreamed it was possible to get that cranky old guitar back to playing so beautifully. I imagine I am now experiencing the same joy its proud creator felt when it was first completed and played 53 years ago. You sir are a genius, thank you, thank you!
You recently carried out some work on my 335 (funky-nut, fret-reduction and graphtech saddles) Just to say, how pleased I was with the results. You made an already superb instrument even better; it intonates beautifully all over the neck, stays in tune and feels so much better without the rail track frets! Many thanks,
Just wanted to say thanks for doing such a great job on my Taylor 414. I did a couple of gigs with it last weekend and it played and sounded fantastic. I'd almost forgotten what a great guitar it is as I haven't really used it for almost a year. I think I might need my Taylor T5 tweaking a little now, but I'll call you about that soon.
Just a quick thank you for the work you did on my Valley Arts Strat. The 'FUNKY NUT' works a treat, tuning is as good as it gets now - all over the fretboard. I would recommend this to all my friends but I don't have any. My only complaint is that, during the consultation process, I never did get that cup of tea you promised! Brilliant work - Thanks
- Mel Dean (Manchester UK)
Just wanna let you know how I am getting on with the Strat you built for me. It's been a while, but I wanted to get properly acquainted with it first :-)! The feel, construction, set-up, intonation and acoustic sound is once again superb! The funky nut makes a noticeable difference! I am also happy with the choice of the thicker neck with the glossy finish. Cheers,
Hi Phil, After having tried out Gracie (Gibson Les Paul) properly last night with my "band", I can hear the difference, as well as feel it. The tone is improved, and the Les Paul now roars. It sounds RUDE, and captures the feel I asked for. The set up was absolutely perfect, Thanks again for another job which I'm over the moon with. Until next time my good man!
No one has ever adjusted my Gibson ES335 to play like this. I have taken it to numerous so called ‘luthiers’ and have always been disappointed with the service and outcome. You have certainly made a great difference to the playability of this instrument and your customer service is second-to-none as far as I’m concerned. A pleasurable and enlightening experience.
- John Evans
Phil is the only guy I use to set up and rescue my guitars, such as a Les Paul, custom Strat, Hummingbird & others. All guitars that played like they should do only after Phil had done his magic! Latest project was to restore my first guitar, a 1981 Bullet, that had been trashed through playing and neglect. Guitar came back better than new, like being reunited with my first love! Highly recommended.
I want to say a massive thank you for offering such a professional service at an exceptionally fair price. My Merida is completely transformed; it's virtually a different guitar (obviously for the better!). I thought the work might make it a little easier to play and sound a bit cleaner, but you've cut the proverbial rock into a diamond. Fantastic job and I want to personally thank you for your time and effort.
Hi Phil, You have a very happy customer. I couldn't believe the improvement in tone. It sounded like a completely different instrument. It's now back in the hands of the guitar player in the family and he's absolutely stunned at the improvement your work has made. You've given it better warmth, depth and expression than it had when it was fresh out of the factory. He's over the moon. Thank-you.
Thank you for the set up work you carried out on my Suhr strat style guitar recently.It sounds and plays excellent and it was worth the 160 mile round trip drive to your workshop.I would happily recommend your work and friendly approach to others it's just a shame you don't live a bit nearer to me.I will however be using you again on some of my other instruments as your turnaround times are very good and flexible.
Got a chance to test my telecaster last night. Wow, what a difference - it sounded amazing! I couldn't believe the sustain on the guitar. The neck played beautifully and I love the Funky Nut - my guitar is now perfectly in tune. I've lost count of how many guitars you've pieced together and set up for me. As usual, when I collect them, they're perfect. That's because you listen to what I want and always deliver more. Thanks a million!
- Paul Stewart
Thanks for setting up my Washburn N4. It plays and feels better than ever! The neck, frets and action are perfect for me, and the tremolo system feels much more stable now, allowing my guitar to stay perfectly in tune. In fact, I haven't had to tune it since I got it back from you! and the guitar has undergone some hours of playing since then! I love the coil tap. It seems to really work well for the N4 and the quality of tone I'm getting out of the guitar now is superb.
- Martin Lee Jones
Loving the Strat (Funky Nut and fret dress etc) - it’s just so in tune!! It’s really night and day from before - was great at the gig, starting with some big distorted open chords ringing out beautifully, and really giving me the confidence to play expansively rather than (subtly) cringe and hold back. And I even spent a couple of hours with it today playing chord melody, jazz standards, type of stuff. Doing that before the set up would have been mildly offensive to my ears :-)
I bought a new guitar from a shop in Manchester that came set up from the Fender factory. It had a floating bridge and I was not happy with the action, put simply it was OK but it wasn't brilliant.. Phil took time to explain a few facts about the guitars initial manufacture and set up which convinced me to have a basic set up geared to my preference. WHAT A DIFFERENCE... It is no exageration to say this is NOW a BRILLIANT guitar. The action is perfect, it is a dream to play... Thanks Phil.. All the Best
I bagged a 2003 Fireglo Rickenbacker 330/12 off Ebay for a fairly hefty price, All looked well on receipt, no scratches or dings, it looked almost new. On closer inspection, the action and intonation were woeful, the nut looked like a dog chew, and the bridge and saddles had seized beyond practical use. I took it to Phil. Three weeks later, a new nut, a new 12 saddle bridge and some sprinkling of genius and it feels better than a new guitar. I never knew you could get the action on a 12-String that low, or that they could stay in tune all the way up the frets!! Thank's Phil for an astonishing job.
Thanks for all your work on my guitars. You have set up 4 for me so far: A Gibson 335, a Fender Strat and my 2 Gordon Smiths. They have all come back playing beautifully. You did some extra work on my 335 and a Gordon Smith (fret dress, new nut for the GS, new input jack etc) and the workmanship was top notch, you even got rid of that little crack in the 335's nut without replacing it! My 335 in particular is now a wonderous thing to play and behold. Your knowledge is nothing less than comprehensive and you always make me feel welcome. Thanks again for an excellent service.
I have had a good go with all of the guitars today and I must say they are absolutely awesome. They sound totally transformed. Even the Tele which was in good condition is so much better. The Les Paul is a different guitar completely. I hated it before, but now it's as smooth as a smooth thing. Jan will not see it for another week but I am sure he will be very happy. The Strat is what it should have always been and so I will put away my 1988 version for a rainy day. I definitely will not attempt to do my own setups as you must have some magic fairy dust to go along with your skills. Fantastic. Thanks for a great job.
Hi Phil, Just to let you know how I've got on with my Tele with the new stainless frets now I've had chance assess the job properly. Well, I was impressed at first & now I've had a few plays I'm even more impressed. The whole job, the re-fret, the nut & the setup was done to the very highest standard & I also appreciate your meticulous approach & how you listened to my needs & chose the fret wire accordingly. I'm also very pleased with the choice of material of the new nut, the thing just slips into tune now. I never knew a low friction nut would make such a difference.Thanks again, it's a great job.
There are diy recipes for guitar setup online, guitar shop setups, master craftsman setups, and then there's masters who live and breathe the art like an obsession, focussing on understanding and correcting every minute nuance and element involved including physics and manufacturing shortfalls, evolving their art to include every latest development. Phil is one of the latter. A grand master who has done it all and can tell you how and why in exquisite detail. But the truth is in the playing... and here Phil does not disappoint. If you want your guitar to feel and play the best it has ever done, and also as good as the best guitar out there, iconic no less, then Phil's your man...nuf said.
- J. Alexander
I have a 1963 Fender Jaguar. I needed a repair and searched the internet for a suitable repairer. I discovered Phil Hartley, and I am so glad I did. 2 previous Guitar Repairers had worked on my guitar without success. I would have no hesitation in recommending Phil. He is very thorough with dedication to detail, and transformed my guitar into a musical instrument that is a pleasure to play. Thanks Phil. If anyone is in need of a professional repairer then Phil Hartley fits the bill. Phil discovered faults on my guitar that the previous repairers had missed. He gave me a complete breakdown of all the work that was needed, and kept in touch with all its progress. To Summarise Phil will transform your instrument into a Quality Instrument.
- Gary Conroy
I would like to say thanks for all the great work you have done on my Rosewood Telecaster. The work you have done on it has absolutely transformed it and made it “come alive'. I know I can always trust you to come up with the right suggestions on how to improve the tone and playability of a guitar and your workmanship is absolutely superb. What's more you are friendly and patient – I feel like every time I get some work done I learn a massive amount, as you are so good at explaining how different modifications impact on how the guitar sounds and feels. The frets, the pickups, electrics and setup were all perfect for the guitar and it worked out beautifully. Thanks again, I would recommend your work to anyone, whether they are beginners or professional players.
- Dean McPhee
Phil's professionalism and experience result in a complete service that will leave your guitar as perfect as it can be, or if you prefer he will simply make you a perfect guitar! His knowledge is thorough and his attention to detail is such that every conceivable aspect will be taken care of to the highest standard. His service is second to none and his prices very competitive. Don't take my word for it, find out for yourself.
- Steve Banks. Professional guitarist.
Just to let you know I am delighted with the work you did on my Gibson 355 guitar, I have put it through its paces over these last 10 days since I got it back to check out your work and it is now a really well balanced guitar, I am thoroughly delighted. Yes it has been all you said it would be after the Funky Nut was fitted and the fret trim done and thanks again also for you advice on the balancing arrangement for the strings. Regards
Hi Phil, Remember me... you did my Gibson Custom, black one with a dent... well just to send you a big thank you, the guitar is amazing, having you do that was alone well worth the trip to England. I really love how the guitar plays and feels now. So once again thanks a lot and I look forward to you doing my other guitar when Im next over.
The Warmoth Guitar you built for me is great. I am very happy with it in every respect. The playability is great and all the pickup choices make the guitar very versatile and sound fantstic. Also choosing the multi radius neck was a very good choice and it simply feels great. One word is all I need to say really - fantastic!
Just a short note of appreciation for the painstaking and inspired work you undertook for me on both guitars (classical and archtop). The transformation you made to the classical guitar is astonishing; you have turned a very difficult and challenging instrument into a gem – and an unlovely and unloved guitar into a cherished friend. Many thanks and best wishes
- Peter Baxendale
Just like to say thank you for a fantastic job you have done on my guitar. I've played for over 20 years and have had numerous technicians set up my guitars and I've always been disappointed with the end results. I would not hesitate to recommend your services to anyone who wanted any kind of work doing to their guitars. Phil is a very approachable, polite man who takes great pride in his work. Keep up the good work Phil!
- Paul (Wato), South Shields
Just had a Warmoth guitar built by Phil. I wanted a Hank Marvin style guitar built with the specs I wanted. WOW !! what a amazing job. Not only does the guitar look great, feel great, it plays and sounds like a dream. In my opinion it is better than a Fender Custom Shop. The attention to detail and craftmanship Phil bestows on your guitar is really first class. So much so I have left my other guitar with Phil to work his magic... Cheers Phil
I was just wanting to let you know that everything is going great on the guitars since you worked on them. The Funky Nut is an absolute blessing, especially since I play with a keyboard player all the time. I'm glad you are finally marketing it as such. The strat with the Funky Nut has been working hard up and down the country and is performing excellent and it is just about to go to Isreal for a month of solid playing 3 sets a night. All the best
- Adam Cawthra
Just a note to thank you for yet another outstanding set up job, this time on the Larrivee. Your attention to detail is, let's face it, bordering on the obsessive.....but that's why I wouldn't take my guitars to anyone else. The K & K Pure Western pickup you fitted sounded terrific when I played it publicly for the first time yesterday (if only the same could be said for my playing!) Thanks again, and I'll be in touch to arrange for you to put the new pickups in two of my other guitars. Best wishes
Hello Phil -2 weeks have passed on being reunited with Madam Taylor. There is many a good tune played on an old fiddle, so a visit to your rehabilatation centre was a must The frets and action had suffered over the years and cracks in the marriage were showing - an expensive elopement with Martin was on the cards, however, due to your counselling skills Madam Taylor and myself are still together and re-newing our vows - We now have great action with fantastic sounds - Many Thanks -
- John H
Thank you for the excellent service and work carried out on my new Les Paul Studio - fret dress, delrin nut and set up. You show a genuine interest in your work and listened to what I wanted during the consultation. Your extensive knowledge and advice were invaluable. The lowered 'buzz free' action, smooth frets and tuning stability are all instantly noticeable. The guitar is a pleasure to play. My 'pride and joy' was returned spotlessly clean, polished and at a remarkably reasonable price. I will not hesitate in recommending you to friends and other guitarists. Thanks again
- Mick Ginn
I used to think my Strat was OK.... it is now GREAT. It now feels positive and plays well in all positions. But equally important, it sounds musical and sweet in all positions too. The standard of work is superb and I want to thank you for your great attention to detail. Above all, this is the reason I will come back because it is so rare to find these days - someone who actually cares and knows exactly how to achieve the desired result! In the future, if anyone asks me to recommend a guitar expert/repairer in Warrington I will be telling them they need to go to Bolton Thanks and regards
- Darrel Hardwick
It's a masterpiece! The fret job has made a spectacular improvement to the playability. The range of sounds is incredible, the P90s sound so rich and fat and the humbucker is an absolute beast! The even harmonic growl makes it awesome for rock and metal. Just playing an open position chord and holding it is a joy, the way the notes develop and then decay is incredible, it's almost like using a delay/chorus effect! Thank you so much Phil, this has been the best investment in any piece of musical equipment I have ever made. A unique guitar that fits my needs perfectly. All the best Phil, thank you so much for the superb job! Cheers,
- David McMillan
I just wanted to write a little note to thank you for the work you did on my guitar. I played a gig with it last night and was absolutely chuffed to bits with the sounds I was getting. Your advice and ideas were spot on, I love the way the single coils clean up but still have enough presence and balls behind them. These are the sounds I've wanted for a long time and now they're easily acheivable. I'm glad you suggested single coils now as opposed to stacked humbuckers, they were the right choice, and the coil tap just adds to the versatlity and opens the whole thing up. It played very nicely and the action, even though a bit lower than I usually have it, worked for me. Thanks again, I will be recommending you.
- Dave Lodge
I have just spent the most glorious hour playing my newly upholstered (fret redress, action sorted etc) Taylor Big Baby following your brilliant work. Playing along to Steely Dan et al was sublime to say the least. It is like I am playing a completely new instrument, prepared to perfection, and it makes my moderate guitar work sound more wonderful than I probably deserve. I had no idea of the impact your work would have on the thing - I am stunned. My son plays a larger Taylor and I would be grateful if you would have a look to see whether your magic fingers could improve it at all. I will get back to you when I get to play the Black Beauty that you also did for me - I'm severely looking forward to it, but cannot put my Big Baby down at the moment.
Phil..Hi there. George Harvey sending a well-earned vote of thanks to you for work well done. I was truly delighted when I got home Friday Aftrnoon, after a most interesting and delightful hour in Bolton. Delighted with the results of your work, and the cost which was most acceptable. And interested with the discussions we had about a possible "pair" of Stele matching 6&12's. You gave me so much to think about, and to save for. And, of course, to thank you for. Now I have an elderly Takamine EN10 that would be almost any accoustic player's dream, and a Gibson 335DOT that now plays as it should have done from the start, and now is really my pride and joy. Thanks,Phil. I'll stay in touch... Oh...p.s. your Stele is fantastic, I really wouldn't mind giving it a proper trial some time.
- George Harvey
Many thanks for your valuable advice and expertise when I visited you at home last Friday (9th Jan 09) As you know I have been having very frustrating tuning problems with my Conde Flamenco guitar for some time and was amazed to discover that the nut had been put on the wrong way round!! ( A fact that you spotted in the first 30 seconds!) Already a vast improvement in intonation is apparent with an option for further work to be carried out if necessary. What a refreshing change it is these days to meet a dedicated expert who will give free and very valuable advice, without any pressure, to a complete stranger. I learnt more about guitars in that hour or so than I have done in the last 30 years. Thanks again and I will recommend anyone with sick guitar to give you a call first! Best regards
- Malcolm H Smith
I would like to say a big thank you for the set up and fret dress work you did on my Martin D 28. I have just spent a weekend playing various sessions and gigs at a festival ( first chance to play publically since picking it up ) and: 1. The action is exactly right - the feel all the way up the neck is great without being too high or low, and yet there is no buzz even when playing hard (in a bar with no PA !) 2. The sound is astonishing. I've always loved the sound but somehow it is now clearer, more balanced and with a glorious warmth and depth on the mid and treble, and cleaner, less muddy bass. The tusk saddle and bridge pins worked a treat. It's never sounded or played better. I'm totally delighted with the quality of your work, the empathy you have with guitars and the level of service. so THANK YOU
- John Keighley
Phil, I've now had a chance to play my Les Paul Standard following the recent set up and fret dress that you gave it. As you know I have had the guitar from new having bought it about six months ago, and it played ok.
However, it is now like a different guitar and I cannot believe the difference - you have transformed it from an off the shelf Standard to something that I believe would compare well against most custom shop items - having made the investment for a quality guitar, I would say to anyone that it is worth spending that bit more with you so that the instrument can reach it's true potential as mine has done.
The same is true of your work on my USA vintage re-issue Strat. In the seven years I have dealt with you and your service and attention to detail is second to none. I would recommend you to anyone who is serious about their guitars.
- Gary Connor
...of course I got home last night and spent most of the evening on the tele... I had every confidence that you would make big improvement to the horrendous botched job someone else made of it. Now that i've a few hours to reacquaint myself, I am stunned at what you have achieved. it looks and feels like it did when it was new. Every fret end is perfect. the fretboard looks flawless now.
The join between the neck's original lacquer and fretboard is perfect, you simply can't tell you have re-fretted and reworked the board, especially as it's one of those very thin veneer boards. i didn't think it would be possible to get it this good! Yes you are only doing your job for which I've paid you, but I simply cannot thank you enough or express how it feels to have my tele back to how it was when I first got it over thirty years ago.
Needless to say, all future work on my guitars, will be heading your way!
A couple of years back I was having major intonation problems with a side-serving of fret buzz. We've all been there and it's a total damper on the joy of playing when all you hear is notes that are slightly discordant no matter how long you spend tuning your axe. I started searching for solutions to this problem after hearing about the legendary “Buzz Feiten” tuning system and this search led to Phil…
Now if you ever need to know anything about guitars, and especially issues regarding intonation, upgrades and mods Phil is your man. I've used several different guitar techs in my time and Phil offers the most reassurance, experience and attention to detail I've ever come across. It's his personal mission to make your precious baby the best it can possibly be.
He'll talk you through anything, actually listens to you and he's damn polite as well. No grouchy opinionated guitar-tech attitude here!!
Viva le Phil
- Andy Craig
Just a quick mail to say that I am very happy with the Buzz Feiten nut that you fitted to my Strat. Last night was my first Feiten equipped gig, and the results were very pleasing. Not only did the guitar sound generally more in tune with the rest of the mix than before (particularly around frets 1-5), but it also *stayed in tune* beautifully.
I only had to tune once near the start of the night, despite some whammy bar use and liberal amounts of string bending - a fine testament to your precision nut-cutting! I could swear that the open strings ring out more clearly now too, perhaps a feature of the bone nut? (aided by the slots being cut 'just so', of course).
The downside to all this (well, the financial downside) is that I'm now playing the guitar more than ever, and that fret-dress time is going to come round all the sooner... So I could well be back in touch with you in a few months' time for a fret re-crowning!
All the best,
I tried the Tele through my little AAD amp this morning - it sounds absolutely great with all the controls set flat on the neck pickup and no effects - even better than through your Marshall! Single notes really "pop" out of the guitar the way we jazzers like and every chord voice is crystal clear.
I asked Phil to build me a T-style guitar for jazz playing based on a USA Custom Guitars body and neck. Phil was enthusiastic about the project from the start and came up with a lot of ideas and suggestions that wouldn't have occurred to me. I've played and / or owned a number of exceptional guitars from top makers over the years and the guitar Phil built for me is easily in the same league.
It sounds great, the action is superb and thanks to Phil's Funky Nut the intonation is perfect all over the fretboard - I don't think I've played another guitar with such good intonation!
I would highly recommend Phil to anyone looking for a guitar build or setup / repair work.
It’s taken me a while to write this as I didn’t want to descend into nonsense, so I won’t dwell on minor details such as the specifics of my guitars or the work that Phil has done to them.
I’m in the fortunate position to be the owner of 3 lovely guitars & Phil has now worked on all of them. I love them all & more so since Phil has done such an amazing job on them. The main point in my writing a review is to praise the quality of service as well as the work that Phil delivers.
Lengthy chats involve him trying to determine what kind of player you are, what kind of music you play along with what kind of setup you play through & how he can then work to make the experience of playing much easier & much more pleasurable. This is something he does to the first degree. Phil has brought my guitars to a standard I wasn’t even aware they could function at. At least not in my hands!
Either way I believe he’s been worth every penny in how pleased I am with the improvement of my instruments.
Just a quick to tell you the Hank Marvin Fiesta Red guitar you built for me is playing great. I use it in the new band I have and its now well played in and sounds great. Everybody goes on about the guitar - the light swamp ash body - the great colour (fiesta red of course) the birdseye AAAAA neck the sounds from Chris Kinmans pick ups sound great through my Fender Hot Rod deluxe amp.
What people don't realise though is the work you did putting it all together and the quality of your work in correctly setting up the guitar as well as putting it all together - that alone is work of magnificent art form. I would not let anybody touch my guitars other than your good self.
You have set up all my guitars and every one has been improved beyond my wildest dreams and it is my belief you can buy the best guitar on the planet but if it has not been set up correctly its a waste of time. I also think as I have may have told you before that you have been the best luthier by miles to work on my guitars.
You can use this for your testimonials with my thanks.
Phil is an absolute master of his craft and obsessively exacting in his approach to guitar maintenance but that’s not the only thing on offer. Phil provides an all-round service including something a lot of guitar techs don’t include and that is fantastic customer service.
When I dropped my prized fender Strat off at his home I expected a quick 5 min exchange and then to be sent off on my way and as usual not really understanding fully what was to be done with my baby. Phil must have spent at least half an hour describing in great detail what was needed to get my guitar into shape. I learned more about guitars in that 30 mins than I have done in 40yrs of playing.
Phil did a fret dress and installed some Graphtech string saddles. The guitar, which was new and had presented lots of set up problems now plays beautifully. I had taken the guitar to two other luthiers who had failed to solve the problems and I was at the end of my tether. Phil to the rescue and now I have a guitar that plays better than any other I have played.
Thanks Phil for all the help and will no doubt be knocking on your door again.
- Tony Kenyon
A good setup makes any guitar play and sound better and, if you're anything like serious about your playing, well worth the money. Setting up a guitar is easy - in theory. Practice is a different story. I gave up trying years ago and have learned that it's much easier and safer passing it on to someone who knows and cares.
Phil Hartley has a genuine love for and great knowledge of guitars and has passed impartial advice and worked on many of the guitars I have owned over the last 10 years and every one played better when it came home. I have never had need to go back and complain about his work or service. I will willingly let him loose on anything I own from my original '52 Tele or '53 Les Paul to my Custom Shop Strat or Martin D18VS.
I admit to being nervous the first couple of times when he asked how I wanted the setup and I didn't know what to ask for but he confidently guided me through and soon knew my preferences without having to ask. Another thing I soon learned about Phil - he won't sell you anything you don't need. I have no qualms about recommending his service.
Go and talk to him. And listen.
- Ron Bury, Guitarist
I tasked Phil with putting together a Warmoth Tele that would give me what I like most about guitars from the certain 'F' and 'G' brands. The finer details of guitar construction are lost on me, but Phil was knowledgeable, honest and respectful when offering his advice and it was a real pleasure (and education!) discussing my ideas and how to make them reality.
Not only that, Phil has great musicality and our chats about music, players, gear, tone and my own style filled me with confidence that I was going to be well looked after. Well, the reality was more than I could have hoped for and then some. Both visually and sonically it turns the heads of all the musicians I work with which is no mean feat.
Phil managed to put together a brand new guitar that also feels like an old friend and I can use in a wide range of musical situations. For anyone in the market for a guitar from the usual 'big/boutique' brands, take a chance and give Phil a shout to put something together for you.
The quality of Warmoth parts and Phil's meticulous approach during the assembly process have given me a guitar to my specs, that is better than anything off the peg and no doubt at a fraction of the cost of the big names. I'll be saving up for the next one!
- Brad Edmondson
Phil has worked on my guitars and basses for many years now. A Phil Hartley set up always ensures, without exception, that the instrument realises its true potential whatever its price tag. Phil has fret dressed four of my guitars in the past and the transformation in terms of playability is immense.
I recently decided to get my beloved JV Squier '62 Strat refretted by Phil. Eighteen years earlier it'd had a bodged re-fret using some type of weird jumbo frets. The bottom E string could easily slip off the finger board because the edges were overly rounded and bending was harder than it should be.
This was my first Phil Hartley re-fret and I cannot describe how good the guitar is now. This man's craftsmanship is second to none. At the same time Phil set up my ‘75 Vintage Jazz bass reissue and it's now twice the bass it was.
It really brought home to me the fact that even if you buy a relatively expensive guitar they still need setting up properly. Phil's prices are very fair. I'm sure you'll find a cheaper guitar tech but as with everything in life you pay for what you get.
On top of this Phil is a genuinely nice approachable guy who knows his trade inside out and is passionate about his work. Anyway, don't take my word for it; get him to set your guitar up and you'll never look back.
- Dave Wilkinson
After numerous visits to HW Audio and several conversations with Phil, and with 25 years of guitar 'playing' behind me, I finally purchased the guitar of my long ago teenage dreams - a Gibson Les Paul Standard in heritage cherry sunburst. This was in 1994. The purchase included a basic set up by Phil - neck relief, nut and bridge adjustment, pickup height. I've never looked back!
During the years previous I had attempted to adjust various guitars to my liking, usually only achieving mediocre or disastrous results. About three years after the purchase, Phil fitted replacement pickups with push-pull volume knobs as coil taps. He admitted that he found the job somewhat tricky, but everything still works perfectly and I still gig the guitar regularly. I suppose the end result was part way towards the yet to be issued Jimmy Page signature model.
Over the subsequent years, Phil has set up other guitars for me i.e a '94 USA Strat Plus Deluxe, a '94 USE Tele Standard, a 335 dot neck and a Norman acoustic. Each time Phil has exceeded my expectations.
On the strength of that work, I have without hesitation recommended Phil to numerous 'muso' pals here in West Cumbria. All those, of which their are many, who have taken the trouble to discuss their requirements with Phil, and have travelled to Bolton have been totally satisfied. I am convinced that their are many players out there who don't really appreciate what a professional set up can do to a guitar's playability and sound - even some of those players who've been around the block a few times.
PS. Phil DID NOT pay me to write this! It's all true and genuine.
- Nigel Wood
I've played guitar for over 30 years now but it wasn't until I purchased another guitar in 1991, that I realised just how good a guitar sounded after being properly set up and fret dressed. I had previously assumed that new guitars would be riff ready, especially when a substantial amount of money was changing hands! I was surprised to realise that guitars are frequently released from the factory with poor set ups and with fret imperfections.
Even Custom Shop models I've owned or seen have needed improvements to the setup and frets. This means that the true potential of the instrument is hidden and the tone impaired to some degree. This hidden potential can however be uncovered if the guitar is worked on by an expert.
When I first met Phil in 1991, he explained what a proper set up and fret dress involved and why guitars benefited from the process. The improvements in playability and tone brought about by Phil on my Les Paul were stunning. Since 1991 I've discovered that guitars I've bought have been dramatically improved by Phil's expert work. I've entrusted Phil with my guitars for well over a decade now and he has performed many tasks and repairs on them.
These have included fitting strap-locks, adjusting action and intonation, pick up and other hardware changes, fret dressing and polishes and more. The improvements in tone and playability have always far outweighed the cost of the work. Phil has always done an excellent job and given prompt and courteous service. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and has provided me with loads of honest advice over the years on guitar, amp and effect purchases as well as worthwhile improvements to my guitars.
I highly recommend Phil as a guitar expert and repairer and trust him implicitly with my very valued instruments.
- Steve Green, Musician
I needed a guitar that would fit my stage image and still produce the sound I craved, so after much deliberation (to no avail) and browsing about the shops and internet I decided I needed to go a different route. I needed a custom made guitar that wasn’t going to cost 3-4K just because it came out of the ‘Fender Custom Shop’, not that there’s anything wrong with going that route if you see a guitar that turns your head!
Upon scouring the internet and doing some research I stumbled upon a chap named Phil Hartley who appeared to be held in high regard by his numerous customers and indeed when the time came for me to speak to him he was very helpful and guided me through his build process and the many grey technical areas that I knew little or nothing about.
The grey areas were then explained in ‘Layman’s terms’ and were made clear to me for which I thank Phil for. I’ve been playing for 22 years and have for the most part owned high-end guitars so I was somewhat reluctant to have a guy I’d never met or spoken to before build me a guitar, especially as I live 200 miles away and visitations were not possible due to my workload, so I put my trust in Phil and… wow, I’m sure glad I did!
I would say this is the best guitar investment / decision I’ve made to date and as a result it now stands proudly between my Gibson J200 and Guild F412, no mean feat for any instrument! So, for anybody reading this who is thinking about using Phil to build their ‘dream guitar’ I would urge you to stop thinking and start doing, you won’t be disappointed!
To give you an idea of the cost savings I’ve made, my guitar equivalent would have cost me at least 2K more had I gone through the ‘Custom Shop’ route and I would have waited far longer to get it too!
A big thanks goes out to you Phil and I will, without hesitation, recommend you to any fellow guitarists I meet along the road. PS. I’d also like to pay some credit to Warmoth for the quality of their workmanship which is first rate.
- Vince - a very happy bunny!
All I can say is that Phil Hartley is a genius... Amazing and immaculate work, done to a such an exceptional standard and beyond what I thought was possible on the knackered guitar I had. He has so much commitment and patience to a job that he deserves every bit of his asking price and then some.
I have a 1973 Strat (hardtail) which I took to a guitar tech in Preston in 2004, and after being given the excuse that it was a very difficult job due to its age, I was left to collect an awful mess of a re-fret, complete with chewed up fret slots, a poorly cut new nut and terrible set up. It was unplayable, and I became worried that I would never be able to trust another guitar tech again!
So now, after taking 9 years to get over the shock and not knowing who I could trust, I decided to go to Phil who took the time without pressuring me to go talk me through all the different options from a brand new neck to even part-ex / selling the guitar! In the end, I decided to listen to his expert advice which was to use the existing neck and re-fret with my choice of fret wire, a new nut, plus a necessary upgrade to the tuners.
When I picked the guitar up last night (3rd Sept 2013), I was astounded by the attention to detail and incredible playability of the guitar - it felt so easy to play and sounded so resonant, plus it looked like he had even managed to restore it to the previous condition it was before the botched job in 2004! His work was so tidy and uniform that I couldn't believe it - he was meticulous in every way. Lovingly profiled and dressed shiny frets, no sharp ends, a perfectly cut nut and precision installation of the machine-heads. I just wish I'd found him and decided on his services sooner than now!!
Seriously, if you value your instrument and want to be 100% guaranteed that you're paying for a proper experienced guitar tech's skills rather than somebody who plays a lot and decides to call himself a "luthier" on the side, then go to Phil and nowhere else. When I look at the other quotes I had, I think Phil's is competitive but when I see the fantastic work he's done to my Strat, it's real proof that he could easily charge more and get my business. His methods are developed from his years of experience and he's up to date with the old and very new trends from springs on string trees to different gearing ratios on machine-heads.
Decent guy as well - I can't recommend him highly enough.