Guitar maker who pulls the strings at Orpington workshop
PUBLISHED: 14:06 05 June 2013 | UPDATED: 14:06 05 June 2013
The sight of rock stars smashing guitars on stage is little more than a cliche to most people but for Orpington guitar maker, Victoria Hurley, Pete Townshend’s antics with The Who are enough to make her weep in her workshop.
She lovingly creates instruments from scratch, spending months carefully crafting the intricate features, having learned her trade at London Metropolitan University.
Victoria opened her own store, Hurley Guitars, four months ago in Orpington High Street and now spends her days designing necks and sanding headstocks.
Many makers have a trademark shape or model but Victoria is aiming to steer clear of that and ensure each of her creations is individual and tailored to the needs of the musician.
She said: “I don’t tend to base my guitars on other styles because the point is they’re different and unique, that’s what people are paying for.
“There’s lots of different shapes and sizes to each part of the guitar, so it’s about bringing together all these little elements like the neck profile and the bridge to make something no one else has.
“I put a label on the headstock and sign the inside but, so far as signature models go, I don’t have one.”
Victoria, 29, stumbled on the university course just a couple of years after first playing the guitar and was inspired by her father’s career in restoration and building.
She now shares her shop with her father Clifford who deals in antiques and watch repairs. When Victoria was younger her father would spend time building furniture at home.
“He used to make chairs and things and I used to like helping him with that but I don’t know how much actual help I was.
“I’ve definitely had the tinkering gene passed down from my dad – fixing and building things is something I enjoy doing and it comes from him.”
Making guitars is a labour of love and each instrument can take between six weeks and six months to make depending on the detail, with the varnish on some taking months to fully dry.
Inspired by a love of musicians such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, Victoria is surrounded by guitars even away from the shop and struggled to recall her full collection at home.
“I have two of my own guitars that I made for myself but I think I have ten in total. I still have my very first guitar but I don’t keep all the ones I’ve had. So there has been more.”
Her creations can cost anywhere between £2,200 to £4,000 and beyond – but Victoria’s store isn’t just brimming with her own creations. The creations of university coursemates also adorn the walls, as do used instruments manufactured by larger companies.
Like all guitar makers Victoria dreams of her creations being seen by thousands in the hands of either of her favourite artists, Newton Faulkner or John Mayer.
“I would love to make a guitar for either of those – and all of their friends.”
To check out Victoria’s work, or to place an order, visit hurleyguitarsco.uk.