Tim Ellis is Guitar Maker to the Stars

South Wales Echo – 18/09/11

Tim Ellis - Photograph Courtesy of Wales Online

A QUIET corner of Dinas Powys is home to the rather louder business of Tim Ellis.
He’s the man who makes guitars for the stars, more chiefly rock ‘n’ roll stars.


Tucked away just off the main high street is a fairly unassuming looking building, blending in amongst the chemist and village post office.

But with a glance through the window a selection of guitars can be seen decorating the walls within.
The modestly sized shop is home to the founder and namesake of TC Ellis guitars, a dyed in the wool guitar lover whose passion is the cornerstone to the business.

“I’d always been messing with guitars all my life, collecting them and building them, but not professionally” says the 42-year-old, a former investment banker who lived in Florida for 16 years, before moving back home to Dinas Powys in 2007.

“I went to a few guitar shops locally and saw what they were offering, and the kind of prices was a real shock to me compared to America. So I thought let’s do it.”

TC Ellis have built instruments for rock ‘n’ roll royalty such as Lemmy from Motorhead and The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.

“A good friend of mine who I was in school with, said ‘I know this guy, he’s a guitar tech for Lemmy from Motorhead’. I met him, his name is Tim Butcher, and the relationship developed from there”

“Firstly, we made a guitar for Lemmy’s bandmate Phil Campbell, who is from Wales. We really just built it for one song Power, and he loves it. Now he uses it for a large proportion of the set.”

Mr Campbell’s guitar has become such a hit, that even Foo Fighter’s frontman and long time Motorhead lover, Dave Grohl, wants a piece of Tim’s handiwork.

“He loves the guitar that Phil Campbell’s playing, the white Les Paul style we made for him. We’ve just replicated it, exactly the same and that’s ready for him.”

It seems that TC Ellis have an ever growing roster of approving rockstars, citing Reverend Horton Heat and famed ‘70s outfit Tygers of Pan Tang as customers.

“I’m doing a Gibson Explorer style right now for the guitarist from Tygers of Pan Tang,” says Tim.

The master craftsmen’s latest project concentrates on the world of bass, with a little help from Motorhead bass technician, Tim Butcher.

“Bass is something I’ve never really got into too much myself, so we’ve been messing around, making a few designs and replicating Lemmy’s existing Rickenbacker signature bass. Right now we’re working on a completely new design away from the Rickenbacker kind of style and brand, which is going to be more of a custom thing designed directly by Lemmy.”

However, for the six stringed Lemmy fan there will also be an electric guitar version, a niche in the market for TC Ellis.

“What we also intend to do is then take that design of the bass and replicate that down into an electric guitar. So many guys out there are Motorhead fans, Lemmy fans but they’re guitarists.  They’d love to have a guitar that’s really Lemmy’s bass but a six string.”

“We’re very close to getting the design nailed down, we’ll them make a prototype and if he’s happy with that then we’re good to go.”

As well as the custom side of his business, Tim continues to collect guitars and has more than 50 in his growing collection – including his pride and joy, a rare guitar once owned by Eric Clapton.

“It’s a 1959 Fender Strat that I bought at auction,” explains the man who admits he did well out of his time as an investment banker.

“It’s commonly as known as Blackie No 2.

“To give you an idea of how much it is worth, his Blackie No.1 sold for over a million dollars.

“Let’s just say I paid a lot for it. Even my wife doesn’t know how much I spent!”

To find out more about Tim’s guitars check out www.tcellisguitars.com

Jarrad ‘Nöir’ Owens

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