"This is a moment I won't forget in a hurry" – Richard Fortus is now flying the flag for two great British guitar brands with Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose (L) and Richard Fortus (R) of Guns N' Roses performs at Day 4 of Glastonbury Festival 2023 on June 24, 2023 in Somerset, United Kingdom.
(Image credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Any guitar fans watching Guns N' Roses' headline set at the Glastonbury Festival will have noticed Richard Fortus's new guitar; it made an appearance early on and featured an unusual pairing of a singlecut body shape with what looked like one Firebird pickup. 

Those in the know recognised it straight away; an Ivison Dakota One. The work of Neil Ivison from Worcester and featuring a Sunbear pickup – the brand of fellow Brit Stuart Robson. 

As owners of Robson's Sunbird Firebird pickups (Stuart makes them in P-90 sized SoapBird and standard humbucker casing too), we know how good his handwound pickups are and the Dakota is the perfect platform to bring the special Sunbird tonality to more players and ears. 

I don't really know what to make of it, it's still sinking in

Neil Ivison

"I don't really know what to make of it, it's still sinking in," Neil told the BBC after seeing Fortus with his guitar on the TV. He had delivered the guitar to the Guns musician in Bath on the Friday before their Saturday headline slot, and he was clearly taken with it.

"He said he loved it," Neil added. "He said, 'I really want to play this tomorrow night'."

Even so, the builder, who opened his shop in 2018, didn't have any expectations when he tuned into the BBC coverage of Guns N' Roses' set.

"We’d leapt off the settee, the drinks went flying, and then just sat there in disbelief for the rest of the gig," he told the BBC.

Sunbear Pickups

(Image credit: Sunbear Pickups)

It was a huge suprise for Stuart Robson too. "Surreal moment," he wrote on Instagram. "Bravo to Neil for every drop of work he puts in to making these amazing guitars. Now, where’s the best whisky in this house!"

We're chuffed for them both. Ivison guitars are also being used by Blackberry Smoke, Electric Six and The Hives live… and this is just the beginning. 

The Ivison Dakota is available in two-pickup configuration as well with a variety of finish options at ivisonguitars.com and you can find out more about the whole Sunbear range of pickups at sunbearpickups.com

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.