James Lister Guitars


The Guitars

The guitars I build are responsive and allow the player to express their own musicality. I always aim to make guitars that I would be happy to own and play myself.

Built mainly in the Spanish tradition, my guitars are sensitive to the player’s touch, with good clarity and separation. They have deep, warm basses and sweet trebles, with good balance.




Ease of playing is an important consideration, and is achieved by attention to detail in shaping the neck, finishing the fingerboard and frets, and accurate setting of the action, which can be specified to meet the needs of the individual player. Standard scale length is 650mm, but shorter (and longer) scale lengths can be specified.


The visual aspect of my guitars is relatively simple, allowing the grain and colour of the particular woods used to determine the visual impact of the guitar. Traditional finishes are used, either French polish or Danish oil, which enhance the natural beauty of the wood, without compromising the tone.


Top quality European spruce is normally used for the soundboard, although western red cedar is an option. A wide variety of tonewoods are available for the back and sides. I now also offer guitars made without using any tropical hardwoods (see images of my 100th guitar here).

Custom Features

Just a few of the options available
Elevated fingerboards can help improve access to the upper frets, although not to the same extent as a cutaway.
My leaf motif rosette is used only on guitars made entirely from non-tropical woods, FSC certified where available.
Rodgers tuners are the highest quality available, and have options for backplate style, engraving pattern, button material and shape, and self-aligning bearings.
Armrests improve player comfort and can be either permanently glued, or removable. Read more.
This traditional rosette has a diamond-patterned central band made of 0.5mm walnut and maple squares, and fine herringbone outer rings.
The V-joint is a traditional method of attaching the head to the neck of the guitar. It was used by Hermann Hauser on his guitars, and although it does not add anything structurally, it looks very elegant.

Exhibitions for 2022

I am delighted to announce I’ll be returning to exhibiting my guitars this year. Only one event booked so far, but hopefully more to follow.

Classical Minds Festival, Cambridge, UK

March 14th & 15th


Classical Guitar Retreat, Cumbrae, Scotland

7th – 11th July 2022



As yet, no festivals have been scheduled for 2021.

I’ll make further announcements when I know more.



A few milestones of note...
Left a career in physics and engineering to pursue a new vocation.
Completed my first 2 years of study in Musical Instrument Technology at London Guildhall University
First commission from overseas (Japan)
Completed a further 2 years of study at Newark College, specialising in Classical Guitars.
First International Exhibition at the GFA in Los Angeles, California.
Completed my 100th guitar!
Continuing to develop my own guitar design, and promoting use of non-tropical hardwoods.