Back & Sides:

Sobell Learn More +

My workshop is the Old School in the rural Northumbrian village of Whitley Chapel. It's made up of two handwork shops and a machine area, with space to stack and season the different woods. It's cosy and compact without being cramped, and has large windows with pleasant views over green fields.The second member of the team is David Wilson, who finishes all my instruments (as well as those of most good builders in the North of England). He has his own workshop in Haltwhistle, a small town nearby, and also builds (and plays) electric basses.My interest in acoustic instruments began in the British folk clubs of the 1960s. In those days of unamplified venues we were all searching for instruments with good power and tone; at that time there weren't many around. I experimented with the instruments I had and soon found that with a little thought and experimentation I could make a reasonable instrument sound considerably worse; a hard way to learn, especially when the modifications were non-reversible.I started to sort the problems out when I built my first cittern in 1973. It was a cross between a Portuguese guittarra I'd found many years before and my old Martin C1 round-hole arch-top. It had a guitarra sized body with a longer neck and a carved arch-top as on the Martin. I wanted an instrument I could play tunes on that wasn't a tenor banjo that could also accompany songs without sounding like a guitar, and when I took it out, a lot of other musicians realised they also wanted one.This instrument didn't have a name, and it was only when glancing through a book of medieval instruments that I found there already existed a whole family of similar instruments that had virtually died out several hundred years ago; they were called citterns. My new instrument became the first modern cittern.So, almost by accident, I became an instrument builder. Mandolins, bouzoukis, arch-top and flat-top guitars all followed on later. Along with an understanding of where sound and volume come from; finding out what makes things worse is the first step on the road to finding out what makes them better.
I’ve been playing guitar and mandolin family instruments since the mid 1960s. I began building instruments in the early 1970s when I made an Appalachian style dulcimer for my wife Liz and a carved-top cittern for myself. Instrument building became my full time work when we moved from the city into the countryside in 1975. I added mandolins and bouzoukis soon after, these being closely based on my cittern design. In 1981 I built my first arch-top guitar, followed in 1983 by my first flat-top guitar. I cycle (in good weather), play competitive table tennis and love walking in our local countryside with dog and camera. And I love building instruments.

've known Stefan for many years, we met during my travels with Martin Simpson. I've owned Sobell instruments over the years and can tell you they are unique and special.
Northumberland, England
Martin Simpson, Andy Irvine, Ged Foley, Robin Bullock, Al Petteway
Preowned Models Only
There are currently no guitars from this maker in stock. Please view our current inventory here, or request us to find you one from this maker.