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Ric Bardsley Custom Cutaway J-200 “Good Vibrations”

This is my beautiful Johnson J200 Custom. Not only is she stunning looking, she sounds awesome.

Right the way through this project, Mick has taken care to ensure that my own vision of the finished guitar was translated into reality, whilst ensuring at the same time that it would also deliver the bright sound I wanted by giving me advice on the most appropriate choice of 'tonewoods'.

When Mick asked me to give a name to her for the headstock inscription, I called her 'Good Vibrations'. That was because Mick had just 'tuned' the acoustics of the wooden top of the guitar body &, even at that stage, I could hear that the sound (think Australian  'Wobble Board') was deep and lively.

Some weeks later on seeing and hearing the finished guitar, I can only say that the instrument is a true 'work of art' and, in every area, finished to the highest standard. It plays like a dream... Mick sets his own standards and believe me when I say that perfection is his goal - he doesn't let anything slip past.

Thank you Michael Johnson...

Ric Bardsley

Charlie Luffrum Custom OOO

Mick has been an absolute diamond and the guitar he's built for me is incredible!  He took the ideas of what I was looking for and crafted the most beautiful instrument for me, not only with his design choices but also in the wonderfully balanced, rounded tone it produces and the fantastic playability of it, something only achievable by a master craftsman.

This 000 is the nicest guitar I've ever played in any price range (I tried plenty looking for this one) but it's not just better though, in my opinion it's head and shoulders above the rest and that's all down to Mick's skills.

I'm really glad to have met Mick and so grateful for all his help fixing my guitars, amps, pedals, lights (a truly multi-talented chap!) cups of tea, introductions and company.  I wanted him to make me something that he would love and he's done just that, to the point I think he's a little bit sorry to have to give it to me!

Cheers mate!!

Marty Wilde Buddy Holly J-45 “It Doesn’t Matter Any More”

Thank you so much for an instrument that will be much admired, and treasured. The guitar is played every day, and the only thing that crosses my mind at times, is I wish I had received It when I was in my twenties .

So keep making these wonderful guitars, because you have a wonderful gift that should be shared.

Kind Wishes
Marty Wilde

Mike Berry Buddy Holly J-45 “Tell Me How”

What can I say? I'm absolutely gob-smacked and delighted with the 'Buddy Holly Guitar Foundation' 'Johnson J45' you made for me!

I just took it straight out of the case WITHOUT even tuning it and it was perfectly in tune and sounded FANTASTIC, with a rich very even tone and perfect intonation right up to the 'dusty' end!

I think I can say 'hand on heart' it's at least equal to the BEST acoustic guitar I've EVER played, if not actually the best, (and I've played at least 2 others! … Ho Ho!)

More like 200 others, INCLUDING Don Everly's J200 (courtesy of J.I. Allison)  as played on most, if not all of their early hits.

You're a true master craftsman Mick and I'm proud to be the recipient of one of your master pieces!

(Can't wait to get my 'Johnson Strat'  made!)

Keep on Luthier-ing my boy.

Love & Laughter,

Mike Berry

Vaugan Lovesey

I know that I am not going to do this justice but I have got to say that I am utterly blown away by my new amazing guitar!
Since getting home [and eating!] I have been playing and studying this new Angel of an instrument in wonderment!

I have good acoustics in a particular room at home and the resonance, volume, sustain and ease of playing is truly fantastic, almost beyond belief without some form of amplification!  The neck is just perfect Mick and in just one evening I am playing better than ever before.

I have a Collings which I always thought was the most forgiving instrument to play, until now.....Wow !

Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating what undoubtedly Hugo Ernst set out to ultimately achieve all those years ago, well done mate you are truly an expert and Master of your craft.


Bertil Olsson Fiesta Red Strat

My friend Torstein Fredriksen introduced me to Mick Johnson many years ago. He told me that Mick was a very good luthier and technician.

At the time I had some guitars, top of the line guitars, but no one that I was one hundred percent satisfied with. On Torsteins suggestion I asked Mick to build one for me, on my specs. It is the only guitar that I am absolute satisfied with, and I have tried many other guitars over the years. Mick has also become one of my freinds, and I had the honour to make a radioprogram whit him on his workmanship.

It is a privilege to know Mick, it is not often You find someone with that extraordinary workmanship he has.

Jan Matthews Rickenbacker 4003/S5

Mick had been recommended to me by a local Reading bass guitar tutor, and subsequently Mick has adjusted and tuned my basses to perfection these past few years. But recently when setting up my 4003S/5 Rickenbacker Mick noticed that the tail piece wasn’t holding the strings at a good angle from the saddles. A few visits to various web site forums soon uncovered the nasty problem of “tail lift” especially on Rics fitted with the vintage style tailpieces with the five screw mounting. Over time the string tension and especially on the 5 string causes the tailpiece to bend imperceptively bit by bit away from the body.

Miraculously neither the metal nor the power coating (black is worse for this problem due to the baking of the metal to cure the paint) show any signs of fatigue during this stress bending. Mick removed the tailpiece and mounted it on to a routed piece of hard wood, applied some warmth and very gently applied pressure to straighten out the deformation of the rear section.

Over a couple of hours of re-heating and increasing the pressure the tail piece was back to normal and fitted flush to the Ric body. Mick finished the job by expertly drilling the extra two holes and fitting the screws to make the modern Ric seven screw fitting and so totally eliminating any future “tail lift” and ensuring the strings are maintained at the correct angle from the saddles.
Many thanks Mick for the expert care and saving my beloved 5 string Ric.

Pete Lincoln Seafoam Strat, Sunburst Bass, J-45 Custom

Over the last 25 years or more Mick has got me out of trouble more times than I care to remember with last minute fixes of wayward bits of gear. Tuners, FX pedals, Power supplies, Keyboards, Amps, Speakers and more!

I love my Johnson bass . . . Mick wasn't happy with the first neck he made so, like the perfectionist he is, he made another. I love my Johnson Strat, even though Mick hates the colour! Both instruments do exactly what they're supposed to . . . only better. He's making me another guitar as I write so watch this space . . .

Mick is a great bloke and a great friend. I am constantly in awe of the stuff he can do. He also makes bloody marvellous guitars!

PS - I've recently taken possession of my wonderful Johnson Custom J-45. It's everything I'd hoped for in a slope-shouldered dreadnought - great for letting rip with flat pick acoustic rhythm and equally at home with delicate finger picking - a real all-rounder. Fat bass and sweet treble. Thanks Mick!

Steve Valentine Quilted Maple Strat

No words can describe this guitar . . .Brilliant!
It has a far better rolled neck than my Fender CIJ Strat and emulates wearing silk undies in quality company . . . if you know what I mean. Puts a smile on one's face whenever it's played . . .

Andy Scott – The Sweet

About once every couple of months we get together for lunch, Bruce Welch, myself and Mick. I really look forward to the experience and tend to listen rather than speak, which is slightly unusual for me. After Bruce and I have put our latest ailments to the sword the rest of the afternoon is always about guitars.

Guitarists love guitars. Every guitar has a story and now even the ongoing sagas of my "stage strats" have happy endings since Mick has got to grips with them. He usually has one of my guitars knocking around with a bent neck or a limp wang-bar needing TLC. He loves a challenge and try as I might, unintentionally, he has never been beaten.

With the deepest respect my friend, long may you continue.

Kevin Twelvetrees Firebird

Big Mick's name was given to me some years ago by the legend in leather Mr Pete Lincoln, when some amp or guitar had gone west. An imposing figure when first met would not be an unfair statement, (not Lincoln he's a little weed). Anyway from then till now I don't think there is a guitar or amp that I own that the big fella has not done something to. Mick is also a pretty good guitarist so invariably when I go and pick up fixed item we end up swapping guitar licks and distasteful jokes.

In the end I decided to test him to the full and commissioned him to build a guitar from scratch. After leafing through every page of the Find A Bugger Of A Guitar To Build book, I settled on a Firebird.

Together we put forward all the ingredients that would make a great looking and sounding guitar and boy did we get it right. It is frigging awesome. I believe there are photos in the gallery of the guitar, the build quality is second to none.

Mick is the master....the big fella rocks!


Brian Hodgson Telecaster Bass

One day, not so long ago, we were having a day of total self indulgence. Transported back to the 50s courtesy of a rerun of The Girl Can't Help It. Every other band in the movie had a Telecaster bass and I thought they were fantastic. Someone remarked,' they don't make them like that anymore'.

The good news is that they do - or he does! Mick Johnson, a truly unsung hero; a caring craftsman with an attention to detail and an after sales service second to none.

Mick has become a good friend and I can't thank him enough for my Telecaster bass. My only doubt and fear is that with this increased awareness, we may well have shot ourselves in the foot as the queue gets longer.

Howard B More Selmer Maccaferri Replica

When I told Mick that I needed a hand made Maccaferri I wanted a guitar that didn't just look the part but could cope with the awesome range of repertoire demanded in this genre.

We used Django's 1945 Selmer as a starting point, American black walnut neck, the sides were laminated rosewood/poplar/mahogany and the top a piece of 35 year old spruce that Mick had been saving for a masterpiece. Ebony fretboard but the bridge was originally stained rosewood to look like ebony and Mick did this too.

The front and back of the guitar Mick heat formed, the resultant shell pushes the sound out of that small hole and gives the guitar its powerful dynamic. The bindings and linings are all made from scratch and the sound hole inlay pared from slices.

The only additions were a truss rod and a big tone pick up in the bridge.

The tone and volume from this instrument illicit comments and raised eyebrows from friends and strangers alike whenever I take a solo on an acoustic session. I only hope I can get good enough to justify owning it!

Derek Misselbrook

The name Mick Johnson has been mentioned around the sites for years in the world of The Shadows, I knew he had built Strats for my friends and was mates with Bruce Welch, but I had never laid eyes on him.

Having just got a swamp ash Strat body from the US I wanted to finish it a colour other than Fiesta Red. Mick was recommended to me and I was lucky enough to get his phone number. Anyway after a brief chat on the phone Mick invited me to his house, and he also agreed to mix some wood dye for me to the colour I had in my head !!

What a clever man he is. The quality of his workmanship is unbelievable and no wonder he is kept so busy making guitars. It seemed that every five minuets I was looking at another work of art, along with his very humorous banter. To meet somebody for the first time and to be treated to a private viewing of his wonderful hand-built guitars was a pleasure beyond belief.

Mick makes every part of the guitar himself from his own private stock of timber, he gave me a neck to look at that he is working on this week , it was fantastic to see it in progress, no wonder that the guitars carrying the Johnson logo are much sought after.

What a great bloke. Thanks Mick for helping me with my guitar colour!

Click here to visit Derek's 'Shadows Talk' website.

Vaugan Lovesey

For anyone lucky enough to be given Mick"s contact details in their pursuit of a highly skilled Luthier I can honestly say "search no more" and think of yourself as a very lucky individual.

Your first meeting will be an experience in itself and if you have appealed to Mick's good nature you can be assured that only time  will separate you from the return of your beloved instrument, playing, looking and sounding probably better than the day it was originally conceived.

Some 5 or 6 years ago i found myself knocking on Mick's door clasping a Levin LM26 in hand in desperate need of some major TLC . Mick immediately 'took over' enlightening me on almost every aspect of the guitar from materials and acoustic qualities to optional 'sympathetic' finishing to retain 'age' he even proceeded to explain Herman Carlson Levin's historic links with C.F.Martin and Co.! What didn't this man know about guitars ?

I remember leaving his house with just that I phone in 4 weeks for a progress update. The 4 weeks passed by and my call was greeted with a "It'll be ready Monday". Four weeks three days had past since leaving him with the Levin, a true basket case of a project. Had i wasted my money?

Honestly, nothing, could have prepared me for my surprise when I saw his completed work, it was now something of beauty, the finish of which was outstanding, like new, and it played impeccably!

Since that first project I have managed to persuade Mick to take on more work typically with greater historic interest for me and for him and he has continued to impress with his outstanding craftsmanship, enthusiasm and undoubted skills involving of late two very interesting and unique Parlour guitars that may possibly be logged in his Repairs Gallery.

Thanks Mick for such quality work and for the opportunity of knowing you, most individuals who 'Brush with the Stars' would not entertain my level ! you are a true 'Bloody good Bloke'

Adam Baker 1953 Framus Restoration

Just a line to say what a fantastic job you did on the 1953 Framus. When I came across it I thought it was completely cream crackered. It's finished up better than I could imagine, and it's great to find it plays as well as I was hoping. Truly a great talent you have, and all the jokes are thrown in for free. Thanks again. Adam

Baz – Predatur & John Coghlan’s Quo

I am truly delighted to write a few words about my friend, when I say my friend, actually Mick is everyone’s friend, I am not exaggerating when I say that since the early `80s Mick pretty much keep Reading bands gigging single-handed. It would be fair to say that if you were lounging around his house from 3 o’clock any Saturday afternoon people would form an orderly queue outside the front door to pick up their hopelessly trashed equipment transformed by Mick back into working equipment, Goth , Punk, Glam Rocker, Troubadour, Jazzer, Blueser, New Romantic, New Waver, Metaler and Famous people all in equal measures.

Mick isn’t a small bloke he’s actually a very big bloke, someone told me that at one point he was seventh best discus thrower in the UK. That’s the UK mind not just England.That means that he can easily lift me up off the floor with both hands round my neck, in fact he frequently used to whenever I bumped into him. I was never too bothered as he always had a beaming smile on his face and always seemed genuinely pleased to see me. And that’s what I love about Mick. His undying enthusiasm whether it is for people, guitars, amps or new ideas. He has a passion for it all and its infectious. He is generous and kind.

Oh . . . And he makes beautiful instruments, stunningly beautiful in fact and he seems to do it with ease. No showing off, no drama. He will casually toss some amazing guitar at you for you to catch (no pressure)! I’ve just be working on this (Geordie translated in to English) hells teeth marn arv just bin workin on this gitar lik yer na.

And it looks beautiful, and it sounds out of this world, and the detail is sublime and the balance is exquisite and the woods and grain are divine and it has mojo and soul and it wants to become a living vibrant thing in your hands and it’s possibilities are endless . . . and I wonder how such a massive bloke with fingers like sausages can craft such a thing of resonance, such a thing of inspiration, ready to create music, ready to express, a guitar that in the right hands could change people’s lives . . . and to hold such an object in your hands is both humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time and Mick did this . . . out of bits of wood and bone . . . and then I understand, inside that massive bloke beats a massive heart and that’s what defines him!
Everything about Mick is big!!

He`s a big generous man with a big heart and a big soul and that’s what goes into his work, so when he makes you something, it’s part of him and, and there’s a lot of him so you get a lot of it and that’s what makes everything he does so great. He’s an awesome human and an undisputed master craftsman. I`m glad people are sussing out what we have had the privilege to know for years. On many levels we all owe Mick a lot.
Right on!

Mike Bishop Strat neck re-profile & re-fret

I was given Mick's details originally as a result of a query I had about my guitar amp. We chatted for while and then got onto the subject of guitars. I mentioned a problem I had with my 60s reissue rosewood neck Strat, in that the lacquer was causing my left hand to stick to the neck, especially when playing in hot and humid pubs/clubs. Also due to the small neck radius (7.5ins) and the low action I had , I was getting a lot of choking on the high E string around the 12th - 16th frets.

I had previously contacted a few people, including Fender UK, but could not get any help. I was told that when the guitars were originally built and designed, nobody did high-end bends, or were there light gauge strings. The only solution was to have a new neck, which could only be obtained via a parts company online. This was not an option I wished to pursue!

Straight away Mick said I can increase the neck radius on your guitar and re lacquer it, plus refret it. He gave me a good price for the work and I gave him the go ahead.

I have just got my Strat back and to say that I am impressed with it would be an understatement. It is superb and I cannot wait to start using it at gigs.

Thank you very much Mick and I look forward to you sorting out my guitar and amp problems in the future.

Oh by the way - I love your wicked sense of humour


Philip Wright – Paper Lace Major refurb of Ovation 12 String

What a star, the guitar is stunning! Many many thanks for the exceptional work by the Luthieer of choice.

Really enjoyed the chat - I could have talked forever about guitars and amps . . . but I’ve got a gig in 2016!! You are a diamond sir! See you again very soon.

Phil - Paper Lace

John Wheeler – 1965 Burns Sonic refurb

I gave Mick my old Burns Sonic to see what he could do with it, and jaw dropping is an understatement. Bought in 1965 when I was a callow youth it was the bright red  beloved of the times, but not by me, and in 1969 with the aid of a chisel and then the discovery of Nitromors it went back to the bare wood which people had then started to favour. And that's the way it stayed for nearly fifty years until I had a sense that it deserved better. Off to Mick it went and he has used a richer burgundy tone which shows off the grain of the wood. I have to say that I wasn't prepared for just how good it looks.

The Tri-Sonics are as good as ever, and the Morris Minor toggle switch for the pick-ups no longer crackles like a bag of Walkers. Amazing result, and now I've got that Spinal Tap feeling - ' no-one can touch this guitar.' But I will. Thanks, Mick, for your vision and craftsmanship. John

Detlef Kötter – Upon receiving his ‘Buddy’ J-45

Lieber Mick, ich habe heute fast alle Shadows-Songs (??) mit meiner/deiner Buddy-Gitarre begleitet. Sie klingt nur göttlich und ich spiele jetzt
mit dem Gedanken, meine Martin-Gitarre zu verkaufen.

Danke, Danke, Danke!!!
Herzliche Grüße von Deinem Freund für immer


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