Tom Sands is a revelation. He’s honest, forward-thinking, doesn’t take himself too seriously (and is an excitable guitar nerd at heart). He talks openly about his way into guitar making (via electric bases, funk-metal band Primus, and of course, an apprenticeship with kingmaker Ervin Somogyi), and is clear about where he wants to take his builds.
Balancing clean design aesthetics, pure functionality, and ‘material process’, he builds some of the finest guitars available today from his workshop in North Yorkshire, England.
We’re here to talk about a special project in the pipeline for The North American Guitar in 2022, but before we do, we can’t help but talk about his time with Somogyi.
“I think Ervin just has such a curious mind you know,” Tom says, swivelling around on his workshop stool to return a set of tonewood to its safe place. “He's arguably the finest maker in the world today, and he certainly inspired every luthier out. He really changed the course of the modern steel string acoustic guitar, but the thing that really amazed me was that he's still curious and he's still looking for ways to make the guitar better in terms of its sonic performance, how it's constructed, its aesthetic.”
“He's got this kind of roguish, kind of rebellious nature, where he's always wanting to challenge people's perspectives on what the acoustic guitar could be, and that has really stuck with me because I think for someone like Ervin, it would be easy for him to just sit back and just be like, ‘I've done everything there is to do, and I'm really respected,’ and all this kind of thing. But he's still going, and still teaching.”
Before his Somogyi apprenticeship, Tom worked in industrial design and luxury furniture design. An influence he doesn’t discard. “When I'm thinking about designing guitars, I almost try not to think about guitars. I try to draw inspiration and influence from external sources outside of the guitar world.”