Few Luthiers in the industry are as sought-after as Dylan Humphries of Daemoness Guitars (United Kingdom).  Known in part for his intricate finish/inlay work, Dylan has become a mainstay in the custom guitar industry, appealing to a broad variety of artists, but mainly, the metal community in general.  We were able to hang out and chat with Dylan during a rare break in his busy schedule and get the inside scoop on the history, and mind behind these masterpieces.

WG: Hi Dylan, thanks for taking the time to hang out with us.  Know you are very busy right now! 

DH: No worries. Its late at night here (in the UK) and I was listening to Bathory and staring out of the window. My house is on the side of a hill so I get to look out across the whole city and pretend I’m Kyle Reese.


WG: What did you do before getting into luthiery?

DH: Well, I had been living in Bristol for about 4 years before I started training with Tom Waghorn in 2005. I was just working as a stonemason’s labourer mainly. I had applied to go to university with all my friends but I never got in – I wasn’t offered a place on both of the courses I applied for – Illustration, and then Applied Arts at the University of the West of England. I was disillusioned, and then missed the “clearing” process and just fell into working. I felt like the tutor (Ian McCullough who now teaches illustration at Manchester university) had sentenced me to four years hard labour. But then a couple of years later I met Matt Smith who was the editor of 2000AD, which is the biggest Sci-Fi comic in the UK. Unlike Ian, Matt was in the business of recognising and nurturing artists. He gave me a trial Judge Dredd script to illustrate to see what I could do. I was working on it when I met Tom Waghorn. With the greatest respect to Matt, I’m really glad I took the opportunity I had to train at Tom Waghorn’s workshop. I really detest Ian because he was really dismissive of my work, and really damaged my confidence in my abilities for about three years. I thought I was a failure, and my lot was to break rocks. In the winter you wouldn’t get any daylight hours off a building site. It was a dark time and the guys who I worked with were evil men. I can only find two or three creative projects from that time, and it was a low point for me. I would love to bump into that double denim, lifestyle coffee wielding motherfucker somewhere, preferably in front of his students and co-workers like.. “Sarah Connor?”


WG: When did you start woodworking and what initially attracted you to luthiery?

DH: I have always since I was a very small child, got involved with all manner of crafts and workable materials. One of my earliest memories is making a large diorama of Celts attacking Hadrian’s wall with my father and my older brother Theo when I was about five, which would have been in ’86. We used hundreds of tiny 1:72 scale Celts and romans. and made the wall out of wood and plaster of paris. I was always working on projects, objects, models and structures when I was a child. Me and Theo, and my younger brother Max were all like that. We created our own culture of constant creativity, it wasn’t forced upon us, and although my parents where artists – all they did was provide help and stealable materials. It was our territory and they left us to it (Although my father did work closely with my little brother, who now designs shows and is head of puppeteering for Cirque du Soleil). I excelled at woodworking at school and specialised in construction and design. If you think luthiery is mysterious these days, you better get ready for what a forbidden art it was before the internet. I had got into playing guitar and Metal when I was fourteen but I never made the connection of using all my skills to make guitars until I first went to Tom Waghorn’s workshop.


WG:  What, in your mind, was the inspiration for starting Daemoness?  What was the process of beginning like?

DH: The thing that might surprise people is that I never chose to – or made any conscious decision to start Daemoness guitars. All I did was just learn to make guitars with Tom, and because I was into Metal, naturally the first guitar I made was a Metal guitar. And then (of the strength of that build) I got asked to make another one. And another one. And another. I’ve never pushed or promoted the brand, I just got motivated behind making really savage guitars. I turned around one day and saw that I was making Metal guitars for guys all over the globe. I work everyday, which is easy to do when you are animated by a great purpose – and I think making the most hardcore Metal guitars on planet earth is a great purpose. But I’ve always put a high value on the things that come naturally to you, or that you do naturally, over purposes and goals that have to be consciously forced or constructed. I find guitar making a totally natural thing to do and I feel very focused and relaxed when I do it, and I have a lot of confidence with it. I just like questing deeper into its problems, challenges and mysteries, and just trying to push the envelope until there is nothing left, and the ultimate Heavy Metal instrument has been pulled into the world. I feel so confident about making Metal guitars that if aliens visited earth, and (whilst their fleet orbited in a passive aggressive manner) said that they also had a Metal scene on their planet, and that they wanted to see planet Earth’s most hardcore axes immediately and that they would structure the leniency of their diplomatic activity around how well that instrument performed within it’s background technological context and the assessed state of our species evolution (to that point) – I would have no problem just walking really seriously (in a pair of Oakley’s) through a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people, throwing flowers on me and cheering as I high five Ban Ki Moon and have a bit of banter with him about what restaurants we’ll hit on the weekend. I would feel totally comfortable in that situation. I would travel to their world as an ambassador, and they would recognise that our Metal visions are an expression of human reason and potential just as much as the soft words of any Cato, and derive from the same underlying rhythms of the universe and nature that structure their own consciousnesses. A new epoch of mankind’s progress could then commence based around one species and the primacy of science.


WG:  Where does the Inspiration for your instruments come from?

DH: First and foremost I just want to make the absolute best sounding, playing, and reliable Metal guitars that its possible to make. I love making guitars that look absolutely beautiful, balanced and enticing to play – inlays, graphics etc. But if thats not built on a foundation that puts the instruments performance first, then its just a bauble. A guitar like that wouldn’t have any value to me. Things of great strength and meaning should get stronger as you look deeper into them. I like making guitars that are real workhorses, but also have a spiritual presence. The two things can be mutually inclusive. For me its just about doing the best job I can for the guys who play my gear. I think a lot of the profile I get on the net is about how my guitars look, or me larking around with a chainsaw or pissing on Britney Spears’s guitarist’s cornflakes. But behind all that I am a very serious craftsman. I want to uphold the great tradition that craftsmen from this island have for their unique heaviness and the depth that is imparted into our craft from the cauldron of our history.


 WG:  You are known for having some of the most intricate and unique inlay work on the market to date, how did you get started doing inlays?  Has your process changed throughout the years?

DH: The first inlay I did was the “Hell Wheel” flying V neck. But I basically taught myself the technique and then saw that I could draw with it. I got started with very little outside input. I’m always trying to push the precision and scope of the inlays – just trying to evolve it freely and approach it with an “anything’s possible” attitude. When I first started, all I saw around me were pearl inlays. That’s just tradition. But I’ve developed out of that now, and I see pearl as just one specific material out of many that can be used to produce a really savage inlay. I’ve developed a lot of inlay techniques that I guard a bit more closely than other aspects of my craft, but its essentially for me to move towards the objective of drawing with inlay materials – and moving away from some of the crude symbolism that has always been the staple of Metal guitar inlays, due to production limitations.


WG:  In your finishes, there are so many different Mediums, from scraping to painting, you’ve even gonna so far as to inlay flies in guitar bodies!  What do you think your favourite technique for finishing guitars are, or rather, what would you say your strongest one is?

DH: That’s a hard question because I have many different techniques that each have their own strengths and are appropriate in different situations. I don’t really have a favourite, and I couldn’t really pick a strongest one – because everything I do within my custom finishes is very strong. I do really enjoy doing the woodcut style graphics, because it’s really hard. Trying to draw like a 16th century monk is really hard.


WG:  What do you think of a lot of the other up and coming small luthiers getting hype? Is the hype a good or a bad thing in your opinion?

DH: Just as long as they’re getting it for the right reasons, and there is a depth of craft to back it up. McLuthiers love riding the hype machine and getting that attention, but then it crashes and explodes because they don’t have the quality to back it up. All it does is damage the confidence people have in the custom guitar scene, and the hardworking luthiers who deserve (their confidence). When Invictus guitars imploded, that damaged the reputation of every small luthiery workshop in the scene, and that is something else that should be on the minds of the guys responsible for that brand. Luthiers should be good ambassadors for their craft as a whole, not just their instruments. Is hype a good thing or a bad thing? Ultimately I would say its bad. In these days of internet sensationalism, hype is almost like an actual resource. There are people who buy into hype and people who buy into substance. To cut a long story short – no great philosopher ever declared in favour of the former. I’ve got a lot of time for luthiers who are evolving the guitar in a solid, practical way; and putting quality instruments in players hands. But I’m quite oldschool in a lot of ways and I don’t get excited about radical designs or revolutionary new approaches that are just being different for the sake of it. Because they’re just not cool. Thats the tragedy. “Hey, just going to go down to the strip and rip it on my ergonomically designed, high technology piece of 7 string installation art!” will never be cooler than just turning up with a white BC Rich Warlock.


WG:  You are a pretty vocal metal fan!  What’s in the album rotation lately?

DH:  I’m listening to my all time favourite band right now. The Doors. I’m listening to the Soft Parade. They’ve been my favourite band since I was about 13. And they are so important in the evolution of Metal. They were the first rock band to really capture dark themes continuously within their music. The last couple of days I’ve been listening to God Seed, Myrkr, Taake, Centurian, Vektor, Deep Purple, Type O Negative, Beyond Creation, Pagan Alter, Liege Lord… But that list could go on and on and on to the bottom of the page. I listen to a massive amount of Black, Death, Thrash, Trad and Stoner/Doom Metal ever day and it is absolute pure joy for me. Seriously – the more you listen to Metal the more you like it, and I’ve found that that has steadily increased all my life. As you become even more fluent in the language of it; all the nuances and brilliance of all these masterpiece albums just blow your mind.


WG: Any words of advice to other aspiring artists or luthiers trying to get started?

DH: Only give a fuck about how good your guitars are and how happy your customers are.


WG: Thanks for your time Dylan!  If you want to see more of Dylan’s masterpieces,  please check out the Daemoness Website at:


DH: ps. I’m a Heavy Metal guitar maker and I reserve the right to trash talk a tutor who failed me 13 years ago. Peace.


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