Today we’re taking a look at 5 Australian Acoustic Guitar Brands. While there are many companies selling guitars within Australia, each of the brands featured below are ‘Australian Made’, meaning the guitars are built in Australia, and feature locally sourced materials.
If you don’t have time to read the full article, here’s our list:
Australian Acoustic Guitar Brands
- Fenech Guitars
- Pratley Guitars
- Hancock Guitars
- Gilet Guitars
- Cole Clark
Founded in 2016, Fenech guitars are handcrafted by luthier Aaron Fenech and his team on the Gold Coast, Queensland. The company places a strong focus on meticulous craftsmanship and utilizing locally sourced and international tonewoods.
As a boutique builder producing fewer guitars annually than other Australian brands, each guitar is handmade individually and built to the highest standards by experienced luthiers using only the highest quality tonewoods selected.
Fenech guitars have become renowned for having exceptional volume, tone, and playability due to Aaron Fenech’s unique scientific understanding of the physics and engineering principles embodied in a guitar. His persistent hunger to design and make better guitars each day for his customers sees him blending contemporary concepts with traditional methods to purposefully define the voice of his guitars.
For such a boutique company, Fenech surprisingly offers a broad range of models such as a Stage Auditorium, Auditorium, Grand Auditorium, D-78 Dreadnought, and Jumbo as well as a mix of modern electric guitars. These models are available across an impressive list of well-appointed series enabling musicians and guitar enthusiasts to find the perfect blend of performance requirements, aesthetics, and playability.
Almost all body shapes are available at three price tiers (VT ($2999), VTH ($3499), and VT Professional series $3999 – $4499) along with the highly coveted Masterbuilt series starting from ($6999) completely handcrafted by Master Luthier – Aaron Fenech.
Fenech Guitars are quickly gaining recognition as being some of the finest Australian-made guitars and have been purchased by some of Hollywood’s renowned celebrities and are played by some of Australia’s highest-selling artists such as Amy Shark, Hollow Coves, Kyle Lionhart, and The Dreggs!
Check them out here.
Martin Pratley began designing and making acoustic guitars in 1999 at age 19. By 2002 his breakthrough acoustic designs had landed him on channel 9 news and ABC national radio in Australia.
In 2004 Pratley Guitars was formed and made custom guitars for clients as well as manufacturing the modern percussion stomp boxes which Martin is accredited with co-inventing.
Today Pratley Guitars is the 3rd largest guitar maker in Australia and has proven to be a leader in acoustic design. Each Pratley acoustic guitar is built with intentional design to sound better, feel better and maintain simple elegant aesthetics.
Pratley also predominantly uses native Australian tonewoods including Qld Blue Fig (Silver Quandong) which Martin is also recognized for bringing to the mainstream as an acoustic soundboard.
Pratley acoustic guitars come in 5 different body styles (mini, Stage, Concert, OM, Dreadnought) with multiple tonewood combinations available in each. They are built with a focus on the execution of precision joinery.
Australian Guitar Magazine 2013: “The second you pick it up, it’s also immediately clear that the Pratley is the result of meticulous standards and exacting attention to detail”.
Pratley instruments have been chosen by Artists including Josh Teskey, Ash Grunwald, John Butler, Tash Sultana, Steph Strings, The Amity Affliction, Jack Carty, and many more…
|SL Series:||$899 – $1,399|
|Classic Series:||$1,549 – $2,999|
|Premier Series:||$3,499 – $4,999|
Check out Pratley Guitars here.
Gilet Guitars is the creation of Gerard Gilet, one of Australia’s most experienced and highly regarded luthiers and instructors.
Operating for over 40 years, Gilet guitars are made using a mix of traditional handmade methods and modern innovation. Wooden bindings and tops are thinned by hand from center to edge of the soundboard, and carefully tuned back and tops, using methods outlined in the book: Contemporary Acoustic Guitar Design and Build by T. Gore and G.Gilet.
Gilet guitars offer a unique blend of innovation and traditional craftsmanship, that while rare is somewhat synonymous with Australian luthiers.
Building in 0, 00, 000, BMG (original Gilet design), and Concert classical body shapes. Gilet guitars utilize Brazilian mahogany, Australian blackwood, Indian rosewood, Tiger myrtle, and some other rare Australian and exotic woods for backs and sides. Tops are made from Western red cedar, and various spruces with carbon fiber composite bracing.
Producing around 10 guitars per year, a key priority for Gilet guitars is to make instruments that last from one generation to the next without compromising their acoustic performance. Central to this philosophy is the inclusion of a bolt-on neck on every Gilet acoustic guitar.
Check out Gilet Guitars here.
Also harking from the Gold Coast, Queensland, Hancock guitars began life in 1992 as a family business operating out of the garage of Kim and sons Dane and Sean Hancock’s family home.
Kim, previously a carpenter and cabinetmaker, made the transition to luthier through a lifelong love of guitars, carefully honing his craft and laying the foundation for the company. His sons have helped him expand on this vision over many years, however, the mission of the company has remained simple, to make the best guitars in the world.
Like Maton, Cole Clark, and Fenech Guitars, The company also places a strong focus on locally sourced tonewoods including Queensland Maple, Bunya Pine, and Blackwood, and builds guitars using traditional methods, with prices starting from $7500.
While producing many acoustic, classical, and electric guitars the business also teaches aspiring luthiers through twice-yearly guitar-making courses.
Hancock guitars are played by artists such as Richard Clapton, and Phil Manning.
Check out Hancock Guitars here.
Cole Clark Guitars
Founded in 2001 by luthiers Bradley Clark and Adam Cole formerly of Maton, and a group of shareholders. Cole Clark has quickly developed into one of Australia’s best-known acoustic guitar brands.
The company has a unique take on acoustic guitar manufacturing, with 98% of the timbers used in the manufacturing process being sustainable and native to Australia.
Another unique aspect of Cole Clark is the inclusion of a ‘Spanish heel’ (a more time-consuming form of acoustic guitar construction where the neck is notched and the body is built around it, creating a more stable neck joint). In most cases, acoustic guitar bodies and necks are built separately with the neck later joined to the body using a dovetail or bolt joint.
The company has also developed a unique Patented ‘3-way’ blended pickup system which includes a suspended under-saddle piezo pickup, face sensor, and condenser microphone, each designated to their own frequency space with filtering between the face sensor and microphone to prevent feedback.
Popular models include ‘FL Dreadnought’ and ‘AN Grand Auditorium’ series of acoustic guitars. Cole Clark guitars are played by the likes of Karnivool, Ben Harper, Pete Murray, Ash Grunwald, Birds of Tokyo, and Jack Johnson.
Check out Cole Clark Guitars here.
Last but not least we have Maton. Founded in 1946 by Bill (1915 – 1993) and Reg May (May + Tone = Maton), Maton is Australia’s longest-running and most successful guitar company.
Family-owned to this day, the company has always sought out sustainable Australian timbers including Victorian Blackwood, Queensland Maple, Queensland Walnut, and Bunya Pine along with Sitka Spruce sourced from North America.
Maton also produces their own acoustic pickups, with the most recent incarnation, the AP5-Pro including both a Piezo under-saddle pickup and condenser microphone located in the body of the guitar.
Artists who play Maton read like a who’s who of the Australian music scene including Tommy Emmanuel, Colin Hay, Neil, and Tim Finn, Keith Urban, John Butler, and The Wiggles.
Popular models include the Maton S60, and Maton EBG808TE, the signature series guitar produced in collaboration with fingerpicking master Tommy Emmanuel.
Check out Maton Guitars here.
Other notable Australian acoustic guitar makers:
- Jim Mills Guitars
- Peter Daffey Music
- Ruben Guitars
The Australian acoustic guitar industry has long been dominated by Maton guitars, and to a lesser extent in more recent times Cole Clark. And while both share an enviable reputation boutique brands including Fenech, Hancock, and Gilet Guitars are highly regarded, and sought out by an increasing number of Australian and international artists alike and are well worth a closer look if you’re in the market and looking for something less conventional.
I’d like to thank Aaron Fenech (Fenech Guitars), Gerard Gilet (Gilet Guitars), Miles Jackson (Cole Clark), and Sean Hancock (Hancock Guitars) for their assistance in putting together this article.
If you’re an Australian guitar manufacturer and wish to be included please get in touch.