Kevin Chilcott

Luthier

HISTORY
Part 1

                 Please Click on Highlights for Pictures - where available.                  

Kevin Chilcott was apprentice to one of the luminaries of British Guitar making - Chris Eccleshall. After leaving his apprenticeship to become a Professional Luthier - between 1981 and 1989 it is estimated he "made by hand"(*) over 125 custom built guitars - Acoustic, Semi-Acoustic & Electric including 12 Thru-Neck Electric Basses. This averages over 15 guitars per year for the period, but
the first few years were very 'lean' as you would expect from a small new business, however
over 40 were hand-built in the last 12 months of production between 1988 & 1989

In
1982 he exhibited his guitars for the first time - This was at the First British Guitar Show, held at The Royal Festival Hall in London, England

The majority of his guitars were made in the years 1987 to 1989 & of these, over 40 were made in the last year of production, as previously mentioned, when the orders were 'flooding' in. Once again it is worth stressing - All the guitars were "made by hand"( * ). A few of the early guitars had the logo - " Chilcott " but the vast majority were " Royals ". The most memorable ones were probably : - 

The " TV  Junior " reviewed in  'Sounds' in 1985  - Where  Gary Cooper  said : 

" A guitar for the Paul Kossoff / Peter Green inspired player "  

and

The  " Angel  V "   reviewed in  'Guitarist' in 1987  - Where  Eddie Allen  said : 

" This is one of the most comfortable necks I have ever played "

also

The Electra

The Electra, or 'Cheese' as it was often jokingly called because of series of holes routed through the body, also had stunning ' V ' shaped Mother-of-Pearl (MOP) inlays up the fingerboard. The Electra came in Natural with a ' Quilted ' maple top (only two made), also in Black, Red, White, Pink and Yellow finishes.
( The design influence came from a guitar that Russ Ballard from Argent had in the early '70s.)

The Electra Mk II was the most prolific " Royal " model, as was The Electra Bass from the Bass series.

They were, however, never reviewed but The Electra Mk I was the center-piece of the 'Guitarist Magazine' Stand at The Guitarist Show in 1987. There were only 2 Electra Mk I's made, both finished in red - The Prototype in 1986 which was bought by Mark Smith (Smiffy) & the one for the Guitarist Show 1987.

The
Mk I style mutated to the Electra Mk II after that, which had pointed upper & lower body 'horns', a 'reverse' style headstock with the machine heads 'underneath', more 'subtle' inlays and a bound ebony fingerboard & head-face. 

Here is a workshop picture of the only " in between " model -
Mk I headstock on a Mk II body ( Mk 1.5 !)

 

Electra look-a-likes

I've recently been sent a couple of pictures of Electra 'Look-a-likes'.....
One by BC Rich and the other by Wayne Charvel !

Click above for a couple of pix.

If you go to 'The Comments Page' there are e-mails
from some owners of
"Royal Guitars".

 

Innovations 

The main Innovations of the Electra models (apart from the holes) was the use of a 3 or 5 way slot style pickup selector going through a slot in the guitar body rather than being mounted through a scratch-plate, & we understand that the Electra Prototype was the 1st guitar to use this system - which by the way, took a while to sort out. If you know of any guitars pre mid-1986 that have this system - it would be interesting to know ! 

Also in
1986, "Royal Guitars" asked David White to make a 'P90' type Pickup, The Cool Classic, that would fit into a humbucker surround, so it could be used as an easy replacement in humbucker equipped guitars if required, as a standard 'P90' type pickup needed special routing. A picture of the original prototype is in the HARDWARE section on this site amongst other pickups and equipment. It's interesting to note that 'some' manufacturers are making rather a 'song and dance' about this "new" pickup they've recently designed..... just goes to show that the 'big boys' get their ideas from the 'little guys'... who always lose out !

Another innovative idea was putting the bridge humbucker pickup on "
the Angle", first on the Electra Mk II, making the design look more distinctive and 'rakish', and also giving the guitar an individual, in fact unique, tone. Obviously, single coil pickups had been used in this manner for many years before, but once again it is believed that this method of using a humbucker on the angle was done first by "Royal Guitars" in mid 1987. If you know of any production guitar that used this before then - please drop a e-mail as it would be interesting to know. Almost every guitar manufacturer in the world now uses this system on some guitars in their range. It's amazing how one guitar in an exhibition in 1987 can influence a whole era of guitar manufacture.

A further innovation that it is believed was pioneered by '
Royal Guitars' on the original Electra model is the "STEPPED" or 'offset' fixed neck joint which allows for a very smooth and well contoured 'heel' to match in with the offset 'horns' (upper and lower bouts), of the Electra and then also the Medusa guitar models, apart from the Medusa Junior which has a "tongue" type joint.

 

Other Models

Other models of " Royals " included : -

The Electra Bass, The Medusa Special, Medusa Junior , Medusa Bass, The Magenta ,
The Chimera and The
Razorback Guitar and Bass.

 

Electra, Magenta and Medusa guitars.

Electra          Magenta          Medusa
( Picture taken in 2003 )

also

"Royals" with Bolt on Necks

The 'Bolt on Neck' types of Royal guitar, were generally custom variations of standard designs.

All " Royal  Guitars " were renowned for their performance and playability and through the years many innovations conceived at " Royal " were used by other companies both large and small worldwide.


Some " Royal " owners of note have been : -

Eddie Allen
Marty Wilde & The Wildcats,
Guitarist Magazine and now Fender Europe Demonstrator.
Royal DCS Junior.

Paul Day
Regular
Columnist and Reviewer for many UK & European magazines.
Royal Medusa Custom & Magenta.

Jay Pepper & Pepsi Tate :  
Tigertailz. Electra Guitar & Electra Bass.

Rob Trottman & Jim Hinder :
Onslaught. 'Warbird' Guitar & Medusa Bass.

Simon Jones
The Turkeys, has played with David Bowie, now with Dollar Shot.
Royal Magenta, Razorback & 'Ultra V'.

Mitch Harris
Napalm Death. The White Angel.


The Last Show !

"Royal Guitars" were last shown at The British Music Fair,
held at Olympia, London in 1989.

We are hoping to be able to get some 'black and whites' that were taken there.
Please 'pop' back sometime and have a browse.


*   *   *   *   * 

"Other Strings"

Apart from the guitar construction side, he and his wife Lyn owned and ran a small music shop, rehearsal and 4 track-demo studio and electronics repair facility where 'solid state' amplifiers, combos & PA, bass, guitar & HiFi speaker cabinets were also built. 

THE SHOP - THE SHORT WAY   .   THE SHOP - THE LONG WAY !

" A FEW TASTY PIECES "

THE WORKSHOP

Kevin and Lyn took on a business partner in 1987 - Nigel Sattin. He had previously helped out in the shop for a 12 month period, and in 1987 he took over running The 'Shop' and dealt with all the 'business aspects' of "Royal Guitars" including promotion and marketing. In 1987 the company became - Regal Guitars UK Ltd. 
The guitar production was moved to an Exeter industrial estate. The 'Shop' was closed in 1988, Nigel Sattin moved to Cornwall and Kevin and Lyn moved the guitar production to Wales.

Unfortunately due to progressive disability, which started when he was sixteen, the business had to be closed in 1989, when he was 29 years old. Kev, Lyn and their three girls still live in Wales.

WALES - A PICTURE

 

Music

Kev has played in several little bands over the years, mainly blues based, nothing too serious, 
so the music can be enjoyed for what it is - the less " grief " the better.

Players

Three favorite Players..... Andy Powell, Carlos Santana & Gary Moore ( in Blues mode.)
( SRV, Walter Trout and Billy Gibbons too !)

( See - Personal )

 

REGARDING EQUIPMENT

Amplification

Favorite Amplifiers

 1959 Gibson GA 10  AND  Marshall JCM 800  

Any wants ?..... A Nice Fender Dual Showman Reverb Head, Twin Reverb, 
Deluxe Reverb or Mesa/Boogie Mk 1 Head or Combo.

Guitars

Favorite Guitars

1960/61  Gibson SG Junior In cherry.....rather battered and in serious need of a re-fret and re-spray - 
probably vintage white
and which is missing a tremolo unit. (If anybody's got one - please drop an e-mail.)..... 
.....
in the 'absence' of an 
original
1967 Gibson Flying V in cherry with  Maestro tremolo
One day - perhaps.....You never know !!!  

Another is a surprisingly excellent
(Korean) Squire " St**t " in gold - worked on a bit, 
which blows away most 'proper' ones of all vintages with ease. 
and
A Tokai '58 Flying V, which is pretty tremendous too !

He has still got one of his " Royal " guitars made in 1989 -  Betsy  -  a Black Double Cutaway Junior  
with Rosewood fingerboard, dot inlays, white scratch plate and an original late '50s Gibson P 90 pickup.

So - somewhere out there, there are quite a few " Royal  Guitars ".

Any wants ?.....A Cherry 1964/67 Gibson Flying V with Maestro Tremolo - of course, otherwise 
a Gibson Cherry SG Standard
(Type 1) or Gibson 'TV' Double-cut Special and maybe a nice 
'50s/'60s Fender Stratocaster reissue either Sunburst with Maple neck or 
Vintage white with Rosewood fingerboard.
( They're all tremendous... if you can find a good one.)

Some Pictures

The 1st " Royal ". An Acoustic 6 string (with the maker) made in 1981 - For Jo. 
(which she still has.) 

   Picture of the 1st " Royal " Electric    -  " Pearly " (Whereabouts unknown.)

( Both the above guitars were with the " Chilcott " logo.)

The Last " Royal " ( with the maker ) made in 1989 -  A Black Electra Custom for Robert. 
( which he still has.)

Unfortunately, there have been very few pictures taken of the guitars he made, so if anybody has any pictures, information, reviews, articles or history details of any " Royal " Guitar or Bass, please get in touch. Additionally, if there are any " Royal " or " Chilcott " owners who would like to make contact please e-mail the address below : -
E-mail : -  kev_royale@yahoo.co.uk

 

*   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   * 

 

HISTORY 
Part 2

Present

Many years on Kevin is still 'involved' with the scene : -

Kev still takes a keen interest in all aspects of guitar design and construction, restoration, customization 
and repair and at present has several 
new guitar designs on the 'drawing board'.

2004

The First 'Royale' with the Last 'Royal'.


Please see the
Royale Guitars Section with Andy Powell's
New Signature
Angel Flying V 001 (above left). 
She was the First Royale Guitar... now affectionately known as "
PC"... short for "Problem Child".She has a Champagne Pink finish on the body which changes colour in stage lights through Gold, Copper, Bronze, Pink and Pale Pink in certain lights. On stage this works very well and is very effective. There is nitro-cellulose lacquer over the top of the colour

Beside her is the Last Royal guitar made, (above right) an Electra Custom in 1989... with the Famous Holes.
She was finished in a 2-pac colour and a 2-pac lacquer which is much more durable than 'nitro'.
At
15 years old in this photo and even being used all the time over the years, she is in great condition... finish included.


Andy Powell's
Signature Angel Flying V 002 called "Chamille" is below.

Essentially, Chamille is the same as "PC" but has a few minor differences. 
She has a smoothed heel type neck joint for better access and has a
Cherry Stain with 'nitro' top coats as well.

Royale Cherry Angel V - Chamille.

"Chamille"

E-mails are welcome - address just above. 
( We will endeavor to reply to all e-mails as soon as possible.)

 

*   *   *   *   *

2005

New Models of Royale Guitars

New Models of Royale Guitars are on going... and the first of these - The Swordstress prototype - has been finished.
Please click on the link to have a look...

THE SWORDSTRESS

Links to others like: The Huntress and New Elektra MKII will be available shortly.
also
Ongoing Repair and Restoration Sections available soon.

Kev is currently working on a Custom Elektra Guitar for Colonel Robert Morris
and
The Blue Angel
for Mitch Harris of Napalm Death.

A New model... The Widowmaker is currently on the bench as well.

 

*   *   *   *   *

Kev also has a keen interest in Amplification and Effects design (both valve and solid-state) and 
Speaker Enclosure design - Guitar, PA, Pro, Studio and HiFi.

Please see the Amplification Section... 
...where there are also some nice pix of some cool kit !

*   *   *   *   * 

Now, nearly 25 years since the First and over 15 years since the Last 'Royal' was made, Kevin's guitars are becoming quite collectable and very rarely come up for sale.

A quote from a Shop Owner in the UK when asked:
"My only awareness of a Chilcott was a rather excellent Les Paul style guitar which a friend of mine took with him to Ireland when he moved there. They are very hard to come by as you know. This model had a vine inlay up the fingerboard and was a one off in white. I hope you are successful in your search, but I fear you may be waiting a long time to source one of these esoteric guitars."

A quote from a Royal owner looking for another one in the UK:
"I called (a shop) regarding secondhand Chilcott and Royal Guitars... They said they've had a some in over the last 2 years
but could not be more specific but they said they'd put me on a waiting list.  
He informed me that there are people that collected them... I said yep I know :-)"

*   *   *   *   *

In June 2005, Kevin and Lyn were inducted into:

 The Independent Country Hall of Fame 

A Link to The Independent Country Hall of Fame is on the 'Links' page.

*   *   *   *   *

The end of 2005 marks the 25th Anniversary of Kev starting making guitars !
A small number celebratory guitars are being planned for
2006 - if time allows.

 

 PERSONAL

SET-UP    .    ROYALE GUITARS    .    LINKS

DESIGN

YELLOW ELECTRA

With Thanks to.....

 

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"*"..... "Made By hand" : - All the guitars are predominantly made using hand-tools, the necks are shaped with a draw-knife, rasps and sand-paper. No 'over-arm' routers and No CAD programs or CNC machines are used.