Bored with IT, Jim Fleeting followed his passion to Arizona where he learned a new craft: the high art of guitar-making


“A guitar is like a fine piece of antique furniture, it needs to be kept in a controlled environment of between 40 and 60 per cent relative humidity, because wood shrinks and dries out,” warns Jim Fleeting, a master luthier (a maker or repairer of string instruments).

After jacking in his IT job in London and jetting off to Arizona to learn his craft, Jim has followed his passion and now custom-makes specialised guitars (such as fret-free, nine-string and even harp styles). This independent-spirited Sol hero started out as a bass player in a rock band, and is now an expert in all things guitar.

“If you live in a house with central heating and modern double glazing, then the relative humidity is around 10 – 15 per cent in the winter. That can crack a guitar in no time,” he warns. So keep it in a case away from heat. If your house is dry consider a humidifier, or if it’s very damp, a de-humidifier.

“Also change your strings frequently,” advises Jim. “I’ve known top steel string guitarists who change their strings between every take when recording because they do get duller and don’t ring out as well as they used to. You don’t have to change them quite so often!”

Finally, keep your guitar clean. “Dust starts to damage the finish and it also sounds nicer if the frets are clean,” says Jim. “If they are dirty they don’t sound so nice. If you have a lacquered finish, a tiny spot of lemon oil will do the trick. Otherwise just use a damp cloth.”