Noyce Guitars
Mount Clear
Ballarat, Victoria
Australia, 3350

Rare Birds

Here's some shots of (mostly) one-off instruments.
  There are more of these out there (somewhere!).

Pete Howell's N5C Bass ->

I first met Peter Howell in 1974 when he was touring with Mulga Bill's Bicycle Band. We've been the best of friends ever since and he has been a significant influence on my career as an Instrument builder.

Pete has played with many iconic performers/bands including Dutch Tilders, Phil Manning, Broderick Smith, Bert Jansch , Josh White Jr. Lil Fi, Kelly Auty, the Bushwackers and many more.


This Bass (originally fretted) was made in 1978 as a customised slightly larger version of my N5 Bass as Pete is 6'4" tall. As the finish shows, Pete has played quite a few gigs in 35 years!

Arrow No1

<-Bobsy's Arrow

In 1978 I built two prototype guitars for Charlie Mutton called the Arrow.

Charlie was involved in the design and manufacture of Golden Tone Amps for Rose Music in the late '50s and the '60s.He later on became the Australian distributor for Shure microphones.

Charlie was interested in a conventional electric guitar with good sustain to play tap style on as he felt the Emmett Chapman "Stick" was too hard for guitar players to change to. He played one of my electrics in Fretted Instruments and thought it sustained better than anything else he tried, including a Travis Bean Aluminium neck model.

Before Carbon Fibre bars were available I was using 10x3mm Mild Steel stiffness bars in my necks and this I think did the trick. Recently a customer from my area brought in a guitar he bought at Real Guitars in Melbourne. They told him it was owned by a bloke called Bobsy who used to play with Lobby Loyde. He was keen to know the history of this guitar which had been modified by an unknown person. Whoever did the mods did a neat job.

Pete Howell tells the story of how Bobsy got it:

Arrow No2

"Bobsy, Me and 2 Arrows"

In 1977 – 78 I was playing bass in Full Boar with Trevor Young on drums, Bobsy Millar on guitar & vocals, Dennis Millar on guitar & vocals and Nick Charles on guitar & vocals.

Full Boar was full on. Trevor and Bobsy had been in the Coloured Balls with Lobby Lloyd. So anything less than "Full Boar" was not going to be on!

Bobsy mentioned to me that he was after a new guitar, so he and I paid Noycey a visit to see what could be done about this. Bobsy chose the “Arrow”.

Noycey made two Arrows – Arrow No 1 was clear finished and No 2 was painted white. A few years later, on a visit to Noycey I asked about Arrow No 2. He told me it was in a shop in Ballarat. I was horrified! I said something like "You can’t do that! It belongs in your museum".

Not that Noycey has a museum – i felt it belonged in the family.

So Noycey sold me the Arrow for $250 on the proviso that, if I wished to sell it, I had to sell it back to him for $250! Then one day I needed $250 so I sold the Arrow back to him. A while later I bought it back for $250.

I still have it.

<- .95N2 Semi-Acoustic

This is a new custom model commissioned by the brilliant Serbian guitarist Miroslav Stojisavljevic.

The body outline is a 95% scaled N2 Acoustic shape with standard 640 mm scale, a thicker than normal flat top with heavier strutting, 75mm side depth and a thicker, flat back.

It also utilises a removable wood block inserted between the top X brace and the back with a Lutehole Spinner (adjustable aperture) soundhole plug. The whole design was developed for minimising feedback problems. It is powered by an EMG undersaddle pickup and preamp with volume, bass, middle and treble controls on dual concentric knobs. Price approx. AU$3,800.00. 

A delightful instrument and the first Noyce guitar (as far as I know) to reside in Serbia!

N9-Custom ->

This guitar is one of two I built in the late 1970's. It features a carved solid Sitka Spruce top and a carved solid mahogany back, EMG pickups and Mahogany neck with Ebony fingerboard. It's owner, Dr Bill Miles is a multi instrumentalist with a PhD in Music Education and a CV longer than my arm. Here's what he has to say about it:

At the end of 1978 I left secondary school music teaching and joined a covers band that would go on to become the funk-fusion group “Great Australian Byte”. Jeff, the bass player, wanted a guitar-bass double-neck made as the very few imported instruments he had tried simply weren’t “up to it”.


Through the friend of a friend (as you do) we heard about an excellent and adventurous luthier in Ballarat – Ian Noyce. As I owned the best car of all members of the band (again, as one does), I repeatedly took Jeff to Ballarat throughout the time of the design and development of the double-neck. It was about the second or third of these trips that Ian brought out the N9-Custom, saying ‘this is the instrument I made for myself – what do you think?’ What I thought was, ‘this guitar is fabulous … it almost plays itself’. As the double-neck  project continued, I found myself more and more interested in going to Ballarat to play the N9 … - nothing to do with the double-neck. Eventually I convinced Noycie that the guitar that he made for himself (primarily a blues player) was really better suited to someone like me (primarily a jazz player). I had to convince him, however,  that I was indeed “worthy” as a jazz player and genuinely suited to the instrument … which took me a while. I even wrote a couple of songs in the “Jazz Chord Solo” style in the hope of demonstrating my skills with a bit more “flash” and finesse rather than simply doing a lot of “jazzy jamming”. Happily (for me) he agreed to sell me the guitar.

It is because of the N9-Custom that, over the years, I have played many other outstanding and highly-rated guitars. Why? Because other guitarists that I have worked with are so keen to play my Noyce N9 that they ask to play it and so I (get to) play their instrument(s) (335s, George Benson-Ibanezes, L-series Strats, Custom Telies, Les Pauls, and so forth). Notably, I always prefer mine - and so do they. Many of these players have offered to “straight-swap” their expensive and/or very valuable vintage instrument for the N9 - a couple of people have even offered TWO of their guitars for it.

Dr Bill Miles
May 2008

<- Mid-1960s 12-String

The plans for this guitar were taken from Popular Mechanics with wood that I sourced from Bill May at Maton Guitars.

My brother Phil and I built a handful of these in the late sixties as teenagers.

1974 S15 (small body 15 fret neck) ->

This is the one where I got the bug! I'd made about ten guitars in my dads' shop from the Popular Mechanics article in the sixties then gave it a rest.

I wanted an acoustic that would work as a second guitar in a band using guitar,double bass, 2nd. guitar and mandolin or banjo. I decided I'd have to design and build it.

It worked - loud, bright, fast and even, and I was hooked! Pretty soon I had commissions to build one with Rosewood for Louis McManus and another with Mahogany back and sides for Dutch Tilders. These were the only three S15's ever built.

S15 Body Size: 475mm L x 375mm W
Scale Length: 650mm - 15 fret neck

Detail view of S15 Bindings

Mid-70s Dulcimer ->

This dulcimer was built for two very dear friends as a wedding gift.

They're still married but the dulcimer needed a good dusting down for this photo.

<- Mid-80s 8-String Lap Steel

Built for the (above mentioned) married mate with two pickups from Maton, Noyce brass bridge and Bigsby Palm Pedal.

The pedal utilised two levers on the 2nd and 3rd strings set to half or full step pitch bends.

Classic ->

I just felt like I had to build one.

It turned out pretty good but I prefer sticking with steel strung insruments (unless someone twists my arm of course).

<- 0.95 Arch Top "In Between?"

This was inspired by a discussion with Hugh Paddle about an acoustic for use in a guitar, harmonica and drums trio. An acoustic sound with punch but without the feedback.

Had 95% N2 narrow body, oversized soundhole, carved arch top with flat top style bridge. Under saddle pickup (EMG) with side controls.

Semi Acoustic Hawk->

This was another variation on getting a more electric/acoustic sound than with say, a solid body Hawk.

6mm spruce top with cross strutting, EMG undersaddle pickup and S at the fingerboard.

<- N3 12-String Acoustic

Late 80's 12 String in for it's first service in long while.

The N3 is slightly longer and wider than a standard dreadnought body.

Body width 415mm.
Body length 512mm.
Scale length 630mm.

Custom 3 Pickup Hawk->

Custom order Hawk with S/S/H style EMG pickups and Wilkinson Trem Bridge, Blackwood and Poplar body with Black finish and Ivoroid top binding.

Custom Hawk