From left, Faith Guitars’ guitar luthier Patrick James Eggle; Brian Cleary, managing director; and Alex Mew, marketing director.

December 11, 2019 I Profile

Gotta Have Faith

By Kasia White

While working with a small, independent workshop on a line of budget-friendly acoustic guitars for Barnes & Mullins’ Brunswick brand in 2002, Brian Cleary saw an opportunity to create his own guitar line.

“We knew the Indonesian workshop was capable of producing a much higher standard of instruments, so I thought we should take the time to develop the guitar I’ve always wanted,” said Cleary, marketing director at U.K.-based distributor Barnes & Mullins, as well as a seasoned guitar expert. “So we set about producing guitars that were all-solid wood and specified exactly as I would like them to be.”

UK-based Faith Guitars seeks to strengthen its US dealer network

That was the beginning of Faith Guitars. Three years later, in 2005, Patrick James Eggle, a world-renowned luthier and designer, joined Cleary and his small team in Shropshire, England.

“The difference that Patrick made was taking an instrument that I’d essentially spec’d to a truly luthier-designed model,” Cleary said. “He took what I’d done, stripped it all back and started it all again. And so that was when Faith Guitars took a whole leap forward with bolt-on necks and many of the features you would expect to find on some of the best guitars.”

Fast forward to today, and Faith Guitars, owned by Barnes & Mullins, has built its portfolio to include 48 guitars ranging between $600 to $1,500. The brand’s two bestselling models for the last 12 to 18 months, according to Cleary, have been the Neptune and Venus Blood Moon.

“The series uses an indigenous Indonesian wood called Trembesi, which is kind of like mahogany,” Cleary explained. “But it looks very, very pretty and it sounds fantastic.”

All Faith guitars, including the Blue Moon series, are aimed at professional players.

“They are serious guitars,” Cleary said. “They’re not cheap beginner guitars, but they’re not crazy boutique, either.”

When asked why retailers should add Faith guitars to their acoustic rooms, Cleary said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for U.S. retailers because Faith is a brand that they can embrace that is already able to demonstrate significant success in other mature markets. So, rather than selling the same guitars as their competitors, they can sell a proven track record against the same competition. The other thing we’re very mindful of as we strive to have success in the U.S. is that we’re trying to make the buying process from the U.K. as simple as possible, so there is a very low-order requirement and free shipping.”

Looking Ahead

With a focus on expanding its U.S. dealer network, Faith Guitars is set to exhibit at The 2020 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, next month. Attendees can expect to see four new models, including the Neptune Blue Moon.

“The headline model will be the new Blue Moon model,” Cleary said, adding that the guitar’s back and sides are constructed completely out of solid mango wood. “It’s an unusual wood to make a guitar out of in its entirety, but in doing so, it not only looks awesome but it sounds actually different compared to the average guitar. It’s got a noticeably different tone, so that’s very exciting.”

Looking beyond The NAMM Show, Cleary has big plans for Faith Guitars.

“If we continue on the same growth path that we’ve had for the last 10 years, we’re hoping to be a very significant player within the U.S. market,” he said. “That may mean finding a U.S. partner at some point to help us build the brand forward in the U.S., or we may even consider a Barnes & Mullins infrastructure based in the U.S., but that’s in the years to come. At the moment, we are very concerned with building Faith Guitars’ network in the U.S.” MI

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