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August 2019: in this issue:

Rio Falstaff for sale
5 guitars in progress
Ben Walker
Jack Haigh
Gerry O'Beirne
David Holmes
Fylde Guitars go down a mine and explore Mars
Billy Watman
Cumbria Guitar Show
Ullapool Guitar Festival
Martin Simpson

Banjola for sale
John James
Skeet Williams
Will McNicol, South Mountain
Strings that Nimble Leap
Comments from Artists
Sigourney Weaver. Sonnet 128
Ethiopia plants 200 million trees in one day
New Albums
The Mechanics and Construction of the Acoustic Guitar

Rio Falstaff for sale
  • Rio Falstaff For Sale
  • RioFalstaff1
  • RioFalstaff2
  • RioFalstaff3
  • RioFalstaff4

What a beautiful thing. Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, top quality, and full of colour. Fine grained Italian Spruce Soundboard, 45mm Mahogany neck laminated with Ebony and red lines. Snake wood bindings, Abalone shell diamond inlays. Headway FEQ pickup fitted. With CITES papers.

This guitar was completed for a USA order about a year ago, but the customer had to temporarily withdraw, so we have used it for display, and loaned it to one of the artists to use on the "Strings that Nimble Leap" album.

Rich, warm, clear and powerful sound, it's in excellent, just about perfect condition, and it's for sale.


5 guitars in progress

Five guitars moving slowly through the various stages. I'm planning to have them ready for the Ullapool festival. Unusual in all the best ways, they will be for sale, but not yet. Watch this space.

Ben Walker

Now for some music, there is quite a lot to share with you this month and loads more next month. I'll start off with a slightly mad video of Ben's version of Gordon Giltrap's Rainbow Kites.

Ben is playing the Fan Fret Falstaff that he used at the Folk Awards with Josienne Clarke a few years ago. Ben also has a new, solo album available "Echo", which The Guardian describes as "Stunning". I will feature a track from this next month.

Ben's site.

I'll be starting another guitar for Gordon soon, a rather interesting one!

Gordon's site.

Jack Haigh

Jack has made quite a few interesting, quality videos using his Alchemist. I'll be posting more as soon as I can.

Jack's site.

Gerry O'Beirne

This beautiful song sounds so close to the "Harrys Game" theme by Clannad, but I can't discover any connection. The lady singing is Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, who is better known for her whistle and flute playing, sometimes with Julie Fowliss.

Gerry once opened for The Grateful Dead, and played electric guitar on tour for Marianne Faithfull. His guitar is a rather special Falstaff, made from African Blackwood before the timber became so popular in the "higher end" instruments.

Gerry's site

David Holmes

Any of you who enjoy cricket might have seen this. It's Dave Holmes, lead guitarist with the Tina Turner Show, and with many West End musicals. He's the guy who helps us get tickets for all the best shows in London and is a massive Fylde fan. He has four (so far).

He had the job of playing a cricket bat shaped electric guitar for the World Cup final at Lords. Every time a wicket fell or a 6 was hit, he was blasting out heavy metal riffs.

Moira and I listened to all of that match while sitting in the car at Whitby, and I started having some very strange ideas

It isn't finished yet, wait until next month. Unless we lose the Ashes, in which case I might drop the whole idea.

I've been trying to find a decent acoustic version of “Bat out of Hell" to share. Fortunately for you, I've failed.

Fylde Guitars go down a mine and explore Mars
  • Boulby Mine, North Yorkshire
  • Mine-1-Carrying-Lunch
    We are ready for anything ...
  • Mine-4-Testing-Air-Masks
    Testing air masks
  • Mine-3-Safety-LIne
    Safety line
  • Mine-6-Place-of-Safety
    Safe Place
  • Mine-5-Travelling
    Underground transport takes on a whole new meaning ...
  • Mine-2-Fix-that-fuse
    Roger, while you are down there can you fix that fuse!

I know how to treat my friends and staff.  Take them deep below the Earth’s surface, drive miles out under the ocean and drink water. Better than a bonus.

Boulby Mine is in North Yorkshire, originally a Potash mine, it now concentrates on mining Polyhalite. Just in case you've forgotten, that’s basically, a fertiliser.

Boulby is the only Polyhalite mine in the world, and the deepest mine in Europe. I won the chance to go down the mine at a charity auction a few months ago.

Breathing apparatus was individually tested for all of us, then we were kitted up and taken the seven-minute trip down the pit shaft to the lower levels.  It's hot down there, and we had to carry individual ice and water supplies, a "Self-Rescuer" device, air masks, plus the more obvious safety gear. I've never worn "Spats" before.

In the event of a shaft collapse or a fire, the cones on the lifeline would help us to the "safe refuge" where we could wait for rescue in a sealed fireproof room, one mile below the earth, with its own air supply and ice making machinery. The idea is that we could survive there for 36 hours before rescue. Without Flapjack?

We were then driven down seemingly endless slopes, deeper and deeper, and several kilometres out under the North Sea, with a specialist laboratory at the bottom, Neutrinos and all that sort of stuff. The UK space agency is there, even NASA is there. Watch the video below.

We were very privileged to be allowed to visit the mine, not many people get the chance. It's not easy, some of the film crew in a previous visit had to go back up because they couldn't deal with the depth and temperature, but we loved it. I had been promised that we could visit the laboratory, but everything took longer than expected and it didn't work out. A big disappointment, so we all want to go back.

There were showers provided when we got back "up". but there were three shower cubicles, and four of us. Interesting.

We had been anticipating that NASA would notice our massive intellects and superb fitness, just the right people for a trip to Mars, we thought, but we haven't heard anything yet. Just as well really, as I won't let Alex and Paul have ten years holiday pay, and Keith wants to cycle there.

Moira says I can go. She says I should. She says she'll wait for me.

Billy Watman

Billys' crowdfunder is closing in a few days. He has a place at the Royal College of Music but needs some help.

He has a massive future; I do want him to succeed. Let’s all support him! Link to crowdfunding page.

Cumbria Guitar Show

This weekend, bank holiday Sunday. We will have a lot of new guitars to show, and the CD will be on sale. Bring lots of money. Link to website.

Ullapool Guitar Festival

Only a few tickets left, it's getting more difficult every year to find accommodation and buy tickets, don’t leave it too late. Link to website.

Martin Simpson

Martin was here recently to check on progress of our latest project, he's getting very excited. I hope it works out. More news next month.

In the meantime, I've been listening to his upcoming album "Rooted".

Martin seems to have entered a new phase in his musical life, not a major shift, but a change of emphasis. He deserves his reputation as one of the world’s finest acoustic guitarists, but on this album, he has let his voice take a larger part of the show. I noticed it straightaway, and mentioned it to Martin, who explained that his voice is stronger than ever (older and wiser?), so why not?

Martin hasn't abandoned his instruments, they are just a little less in the foreground on some tracks, and he has introduced other instruments and players, my favourite being "swing" clarinet, amazing.

Martin's Fylde guitars are heavily used, and he also showcases other guitar makers. His long-term favourite, Stefan Sobell of course, and PRS guitars, also Rory Dowling from Taran guitars. He's enjoying and indulging himself, because he can!

Martin's Website
Sobell Guitars
Taran Guitars

Banjola for sale
  • Banjola For Sale
  • banjola1
    martin SImpson playing the Banjola
  • banjola2
  • banjola3
  • banjola4
  • banjola5
  • banjola6

We made this for a regular customer who hasn't managed to get to grips with it. We have only ever made two, the first one was for Tristan Seume. Figured Claro Walnut body and Neck, Cedar top, sculpted Ebony fingerboard. 648mm scale, with the fifth string neatly "tunnelled" to the headstock. Fitted with Gold hardware and a Headway FEQ pickup.

Martin Simpson says it's lovely and that everyone should have a banjola. But we only have one.


John James

"Early days John Martyn heard me play this song a lot as we gigged together through the Sandy Glennon Agency. He set about learning it in one of his guitar tunings, great to hear his voice sing the song at home but I never heard him sing it at a gig. He reckoned he used the guitar figure to write other songs, one of which was on the LP "Stormbringer". The guitar I play here is my original Fylde Oberon circa 1975, not the original strings of course, don't be silly, they are quite new, about 1978."

Some links are becoming difficult to use - please search for “John James Guitarist” to find his website.
Skeet Williams

Skeet on his well-worn Orsino, someone else who I should feature more often.

Skeet's site

Will McNicol, South Mountain

Will is in China at the moment, on a three-week guitar promotion tour.

This is a tune he wrote on his first visit; it's recorded on Will's upcoming EP "Rain on Qingming Bridge". He has lots of little surprises planned in the near future.

Will's site

Strings that Nimble Leap

The album is selling well, and we hope to able to send some money to the charities before long.

It is still available to buy, direct from our website. Click here ...

If anybody struggles with paying by PayPal (it’s easy!), then we can talk to you about other methods of payment. Just email me. Anything any of you can do to help publicise the album would be very welcome. Facebook etc, anything you can do please. it’s a very worthwhile project, and if I do say it myself, rather splendid.

Comments from Artists
  • Bursting with pride at being in the mix with some amazing stuff! Tristan Seume
  • A fantastic production and brilliant to be part of it. Nick Hooper
  • Fantastic job Roger, well done. Thanks again for getting us involved. Chas MacKenzie
  • Congratulations, and all for a great cause. Remi Harris
  • What a fantastic CD package. Once again you have gone for the best possible presentation and as near dammit... perfection. Gordon and Hilary Giltrap
  • It is a wonderful collection and Vin would have been very proud to have been part of it. The accompanying book is beautiful. The piece that you have written about Vin is very touching. Pat Garbutt
  • Thank you very much. Quite a tome. I’ve spent long hours in printers over the years trying to get such quality. Thanks again for including my tune on the album. John James
  • What a great couple of CDs and lovely booklet too. Charlotte Carrivick
  • I’m so proud of it. Congratulations on such a fine release, Roger - it is an excellent production. Henry Olsen.
  • What a lovely edition! Bireli said he'd love to have a copy. Adam Palma
  • Thank you, seriously amazing!!! Peter Howarth
  • Fantastic Rog. Congratulations, how does it feel to have it out? John Smith
  • Incredible! - Elliott Morris... -- excellent!!!! - Troy Donockley.
  • Amazing - Toby Hay
  • Amazing and what a line-up!! I’ve never seen such a fab booklet... Chris While
  • Really, really lovely Rog. An enormous variety and quality which is a testament to the legacy you've built over the years. Exceptionally inspiring. Will McNicol
  • Beautiful packaging and I can’t wait to hear it all. Very well done and proud to be involved. love and peace... Dave Pegg
  • What a lovely thing it is! It must be amazing for you when you stand back and look at the breadth of musicians who play and love your instruments…I am very happy to be among them! Chris Leslie
Sigourney Weaver. Sonnet 128

Don’t get all excited fellas, the lady doesn't play guitar as far as I know, this is just my way of explaining where the album title comes from.

A little bit "off the wall", with not an Alien in sight. My words are better.

Ethiopia plants 200 million trees in one day

If this story is true, or even partially true, I am exceedingly impressed. I thought I was doing well by planting 700 trees at home.

According to press reports, on 29th July this year, government employees in Ethiopia were given the day off work to help with planting 200 million trees. The official announcement claims it was 350 million, but several sources dispute those figures, and i do wonder where they found all those seedlings. Nevertheless, even a fraction of that number would be astonishing, and for a country that we might imagine doesn't have the best government and organisation, well, what better government is there than this?

Link to article

New Albums

Grannys Attic

Jack Rutter

Ben Walker

The Mechanics and Construction of the Acoustic Guitar

How do I describe this book? I'll use the foreword that I wrote for it. Here we are:

"We have all listened to music played on the guitar and watched and listened to aircraft in the sky. How many of us stop to think that the two things are in many ways, much the same, and are governed by identical rules of physics and mathematics?

Guitars and aircraft function by moving the air around them. When changes in air pressure reach our ears, we call it “sound”. When that sound is a certain combination of frequencies, it might be called “pleasant” (or not). And when the combinations of frequencies occur in certain patterns, we call it “music”.

The sound of guitars, and the performance of aircraft are all governed by rules involving stiffness, mass, and stress. In aerodynamics, those rules are written by mathematicians and engineers, while in instrument making, they are mostly not written down at all or even thought about. A trained ear, generations of experience and limitless manual skills have produced the violins of Stradivari, and the guitars of countless modern makers, without very much reference to science.

Times are changing. This book is perhaps the first attempt to connect the two worlds. Eddie Green is ideally placed to make that connection, He has spent something like fifty years deeply immersed in the physics, mathematics, and structure of military aircraft, while playing, building and repairing guitars for an even longer period. I met him soon after I formed “Fylde Instruments” in 1973, we immediately became good friends and he came to work alongside me for a while.

Eddie and I have similar backgrounds and interests, and even at family occasions, the talk is always of “stress”, “resonance” and “intonation”.

Within these pages, there are calculations, experiments. suggestions, theories and conclusions, which we can dip into or read in depth as we wish. Perhaps some people will not grasp the mathematics, although it is easy enough to follow the train of thought and read the overall conclusions without understanding every equation. Others might not agree with its conclusions or its relevance to their work, but if it makes us stop and think, it has done its job. I have spent much of my life making guitars, researching, experimenting and thinking, and this book has certainly caused me to stop and think some more. A lot more. My guitars will be better for it.

Eddie’s work deserves to become a milestone in guitar making literature."

Available from Amazon, £27