A lovely set of pictures to get the newsletter started. We made this for a customer in the USA, partly to get around the CITES regulations on Indian Rosewood. It's made from figured Claro Walnut and Western Red Cedar with a neck laminated from Mahogany and blue coloured inlay lines.
The USA customs people loved this guitar, so kept it an extra 10 days just so they could look at it. They were constantly telling us there was something missing from the paperwork, but I know what they were up to, I bet customs offices all have guitar clubs.
And yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, it is left handed.
I was so pleased to get hold of this, we made it for a local customer in 1988, and obviously he didn't get to grips with it, as it turned up in the town music shop. It's not the sort of thing you would put on show in a small window display in Penrith, and they were not likely to sell it, so I made them an offer, and they said yes!
I love the sound of an acoustic bass guitar, particularly when played fast with a pic, check out Phil Murray and Stu Luckley. This will sit quite happily in my office and will raise a lot of interest at any show we go to.
I think this is the last of this model bass we made, they've gone out of fashion a little. We made it in two versions - a "proper" one like this, 34-inch scale and a long neck, and a more compact version, still 34-inch scale, but with a shorter neck. This one works best and is fun to watch being played by a top player.
It is for sale - and that is where it gets really interesting. To make one new, now, would cost over £3,000, without a case. I would probably ask £1500 for this bass. It comes with a fitted Calton case, worth about £1000, so I have to be creative. I would accept £2,300 for the bass and case together or would consider selling them separately.
And now on to a different sort of acoustic bass.
Remi has teamed up with a new bass player, Simon Smith, who is taking more of a lead role in the music, good to see. I've said it before; I can't get enough of Remi's music. His track on the Fylde album is superb. All the tracks are!!
Or if you are in the USA, Bendyminum.
No, it’s not a guitar side for a heavy metal guitar, or even a light metal guitar. It's the early stages of a heated bending form. Younger makers use plywood, where is the challenge in that? This is 6mm sheet alloy, bent by hand, in a vice, with a little bit of big hammer. Massive fun. Alex and Paul tend to panic a bit when even I put ear defenders on.
I do like to work with metal when I get a chance. Well, I had a chance, and this is what happened. It might be a while before I get the next chance
John tours the world on my behalf, looking for opportunities to display his lovely guitars in exotic locations. I don't pay him, so he has to organise sell-out concerts and best-selling albums just so he can continue to help me.
John has been telling me about 'That Pedal Show" for a while, urging me to take it seriously. I do John, I do! There is no doubt that Acoustic players are using pedals more and more, not just to "add effects", but to shape the very basics of the amplified guitar tone.
Part of the key has to be the pickups used, and there is a large choice. Here John is using a Baggs Dual Source, in stereo mode, plus a Vintage De Armond soundhole pickup, (which is now permanently mounted in the guitar).
In the 1980s I used the Baggs "Duet" System a lot, but most players used it only as an EQ and blend of two sources, there weren't many options to work the two channels separately downline. That has all changed, let's hope I can keep up with all this clever stuff.
Richard's new Album "Further" was number two in the charts when I started to write this. It has his Fylde guitars all over it. He was very keen to contribute to the "Nimbles" album, and we tried very hard to make it happen, but first his stage play in Sheffield "Standing at the Sky’s Edge", then recording his new album and all the publicity work involved, made it impossible. We are both very disappointed, I will have to start planning "More Nimbles " so that we can try again.
Perhaps Richard's track might have been something like this. Richard is playing one of his Alexanders, with Martin Simpson on his new 12 fret Fylde guitar, and Shez Sheridan on Richard's new Fylde 12 string, Richard says he has to fight to get it back. Martin says it’s the best 12-string he has heard.
Martin has been busy as well; he has a new album "Rooted" to be released in August.
This taster track was originally recorded for the Fylde Abum, and by adding extra instrumentation, Martin has added it to his own Album. I'm not sure if I can claim any royalties on that, probably not. Perhaps I won't ask.
It's taking a long time. There will be more to say soon.
What a lovely piece, and a great video, filmed in Split, Croatia.
All filmed on an iPhone. The cameraman suffered a bit, it was 33 deg and took nearly 2 hrs overall, so they borrowed an umbrella from the nearby beach. The camera phone overheated during one of the takes, but it's all worked out very well, despite a luxury yacht sailing up Billy's right sleeve and not coming out again, he didn't even flinch. Excellent playing, and some capo gymnastics.
From September 2019 Billy will take up a place at the Royal College of Music in London, studying classical guitar with Gary Ryan. In the meantime, he has been touring and writing, and raising funds for his studies. He has a crowdfunding project on the go which I'll try and feature next month.
Will is always looking for a "side hustle" (down with the kids, that's me).
People can now choose their favourite Will McNicol tunes, and it’ll be made into a bespoke, lovely book.
Custom notation books! It’s an idea I’ve wanted to make a reality for a while now, and I’m excited that I’ve finally been able to. Up until now I’ve only offered album transcription books, but now you can choose your favourite 3, 5 or 10 tunes to be made into a bespoke, wire-bound notation book, with options to personalise with name and message. It’s all good fun, and I’m intrigued - what would your choices be?
Brittany Guitar Workshops are recruiting for Tristan Seume's 4-day workshop which will take place in La Fontenelle, Brittany from 21st to 24th August 2019. Course content will include:
"Whilst the course caters for varying abilities, it is recommended that participants have a good grasp of acoustic guitar basics (standard chord shapes and a few fingerstyle patterns) to gain maximum benefit from this experience."
The cost of the workshop is £250 which includes tuition fees, lunches and refreshments. Spaces are limited to 8 participants, so please book early.
So to spend time with one of the nicest guitar players around, and to collect a little bit of his vast talent, go here
Always an absolute delight to hear and see John playing.
John says. "A piece from the "Cafe Vienna" CD. This is the main guitar part of the tune. The second guitar part on the CD was recorded after the main. Luckily thanks to multi track here the opposite happens, I play the main part to a playback of the second ! The tune is about the time, the only time, that the other three members of my small immediate family were together at one of my performances. A dance, The Last Dance."
Really good to see that he has still "got it". John would crack endless jokes about a line like that.
David Buckingham sent me this.
David and his " Three Compadres” at the Opera House with the Royal Ballet production of Don Quijote.
David is the one with the hat.
Forbes Henderson on the far right of the screen (remember the band Incantation?) plus he played with The Three Tenors, David Bowie etc. etc.
Nigel Woodhouse on the far left of the screen (does a lot of ballets and operas, also an excellent mandolin player)
Dan Thom is second from the left of the screen, he's very busy in the West End, operas, ballets.
David's guitar is the one we made to take to Ullapool last year. but David "borrowed" it and I was lucky to get it back. He also used it on the "Strings that Nimble Leap" album.
When I saw this, it occurred to me that we have an excellent marketing opportunity. All we have to do is make a hat, with the cord extended under the guitar and clipped onto the soundhole edge.
Then the player could throw up his chin in a dramatic gesture and the guitar would follow suit. It would also keep your hat on in strong winds, just think of the possibilities.
Good evening Dragons. My name is Roger Bucknall and I am here tonight to ask you for one million pounds for in exchange for 5 percent of my company “Hatstrap Ltd."
The Fylde charity album is selling well. Two people have bought 10 each, and six have bought four each! And no, none of them are our family. The guitar magazines have been giving good comments, and Mark Radcliffe featured it on Radio 2 last week. Buy it here - buy eleven.
The guitar that David used at the Royal Opera House is for sale.
Spanish Cypress back and sides, the wood for the back was little under sized and we built it up by adding wings to each edge. Italian Spruce top, with a little beauty spot in the grain. I was testing the water with this, and quite deliberately used these pieces of timber, which are basically excellent, just a little visually flawed perhaps. Somebody will love it, and it's not expensive for what it is - I am asking £1700. It has been played at the Royal Opera House!
I actually typed that in an email recently, it might have been my dodgy typing again, but I'm blaming spellcheck.
I speak to travelling musicians a lot and was recently given a little snippet which might be useful to some of you.
If you are travelling to certain countries, (I'd better not say which, but it should be obvious), on a working visa, just check the content of your social media, and even the last few weeks of your phone messages before you go through customs. It seems to be the latest way of checking for "undesirables". " May I see your phone sir?"
I'd selected these from my latest acquisitions, mostly because of the range of colours, then i noticed that one was quite definitely a bit pale. Maybe it will go darker with age.
Susan Spurlock had her precious Signature Archtop Bouzouki stolen in Oakland California nearly a year ago, along with a Gibson mandolin but still no sign of it.
Any sightings of such an instrument, please get in touch with me or Susan.
As I mentioned a few months ago, there had been hope that the CITES APP II listing for Rosewood might be lifted, or at least, eased at the CITES meeting in Sri Lanka in May.
Unfortunately, terrorist incidents in Sri Lanka forced the meeting to be cancelled, and it is now taking place in Geneva between the 17th and 28th August.
For more details on what is happening, see the story - LINK
Guitar makers have mostly been concerned over the situation with Indian Rosewood, but India is well governed and the timber trade there is well controlled. There are other countries where other species of Rosewood are suffering from more than illegal logging. In some places, politics and possibly corruption are making a difficult situation worse.
Thirty thousand logs of Madagascan Rosewood en-route to China via Singapore were seized in 2014, and the man concerned was found guilty of smuggling a CITES listed species. But now that verdict has been overturned, and the timber must be returned to him! The argument now is " who pays for the costs of storing the wood over the past 5 years?
It will be clearer if you read this - LINK
And if you think that 30,000 logs is a lot - how about two million?
This story is just astonishing. In brief, there is a huge amount of stockpiled Rosewood in Madagascar, some of which could possibly be designated as "legal", but there is no real way of differentiating between different stocks, and some of it is deliberately mixed up. Officials have been battling between two extreme options - destroy it all or let it all go for sale. There can't be a good outcome from this. LINK
I'm tempted to get back on one of my hobby horses here. Millions of Rosewood logs, hundreds of tons of Ivory.
Put it this way - if we fed all the information into an " impartial" computer and asked it for a solution, I do not think it would say "This material is very rare, it is endangered, and we have to save it, therefore we must destroy it."
And, by pure chance, I received a newsletter from one of my suppliers as I was typing that last paragraph. He has been asked to help value the stockpiles and help formulate a policy.
Have a good look at the size of the "committee". Sigh.
Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)