|An unusual Alexander.
An Egyptian, Oberon and Ariel. John Smith, Megan Henwood and Will McNicol. New rules on timber and TWO resonators!
|On the edge|
|It’s one of those adventures into the unknown that turned out very nicely, an Alexander, with African Blackwood body and Italian Spruce soundboard for a customer in the US. The unusual parts are the arm and rib bevels. The "usual" method of doing this is to fit more or less standard bindings, and apply a wider veneer to a chamfered edge. This results in each binding being made from three pieces of wood, and I didn’t want that. On this guitar, the bindings were bent from single pieces of figured Walnut about 20mm by 10mm, shaped and fitted into a rather complex rebate, not at all easy. Walnut is lovely to bend, but if the bevel had been just another millimetre wider or thicker, I don’t think it could have been done. I hope the pictures show the result.
It sounds good as well.
|Egyptian for sale|
|This has been here before, sold, passed around and come back to me. It’s the first Egyptian that I made in 1985. Fancy a little Django?? It isn’t possible to be sad with a guitar like this in your hands, its sort of like dancing while sitting down. £1900 ono. Link to webpage.|
|Oberon for sale|
|Made only about a year ago, this has been away for a while and then part exchanged. It's in perfect condition apart from a small sharp ding in the front that I might be able to remove. Typical Oberon - balanced tone, perfect for recording, and for playing all those early Brit folk tunes. £2300 ono. Link to web page|
|John has spent a couple of years touring with Lisa Hannigan, growing a beard, writing new songs and recording a new album. The note he sent with the album says "very little in the way of murders, but still miserable I'm afraid". Must be Folk music then. Link to video
The album is launched on 25th March, and available from John's website. I've heard a lot of it live here at our house, in fact for a while, John was planning to record the album here amongst the squirrels, but common sense prevailed. One of my favourite sounds is acoustic guitar with upright "string bass", and there is plenty of that from professor Jon Thorne. Splendid, splendid album. Typical quirky Smith, the album sleeve gives you a clue, and the video takes it a bit further.
John is on tour at the moment - look out for him.
|Another young man going places. Winner of the Acoustic Guitarist of the year in 2011, and currently a candidate for my own award " Best CD in my car stereo". Will played mostly Nylon strings until he bought his Custom Alexander last year. Link to video.
The album is more or less 50:50, Nylon/ Steel but it isn’t always easy to spot the difference. That is how much the music and perception of steel strings has moved on recently. It's probably only the wear and tear on fingernails that has kept the two apart, and with modern acrylic nails etc, that barrier has now gone. I hope that Fylde guitars will be a part of this change as they were with Lute and Elizabethan music transferring to steel string guitar 40 years ago. Ouch that hurt.
Available from 23rd March at Will's website.
Really brilliant compositions, brilliantly played, but that's not all, there is also a book of music to go with the CD, notation AND tab AND technical notes. How’s that for a guitarists dream?
Megan composed this while she was modeling for a life sculpture class. Shame we can't see the guitar - it's her new one "Rosie", but we can hear it. Another little Gem, Megan. That's almost a palindrome - Gem Megan. Megan's website.
|New rules on timber|
|Last week saw the introduction of European rules on timber import - The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade agreement - "FLEGT". Nothing nasty, just common sense that could have been in place years ago. As from now, the "first importer" of timber into the EU has to show due diligence in ascertaining the legal origin of the timber.
Also from last week, the CITES regulations (Convention on the international trade in endangered species) appendix 2 now includes Siam Rosewood and Rosewood and Ebony from Madagascar. This affects at least 80 species, which in effect can no longer be traded legally. The Ebony I use comes from Cameroon and is fully legal, and the small amount of Madagascar Rosewood that I have was imported some years ago. I've no wish to buy any more.
This of course is all on top of the LACEY act (not an acronym this time, it was introduced by John Lacey in 1900, but only recently put into effect), which applies to anything made of wood that is exported to the USA. Gibson recently fell foul of this (their own silly fault), and were fined $300,000
The whole situation re timber, particularly exotic hardwoods, is not going to get any easier, regulations will continue to tighten, with the requirements for "due diligence" and a "chain of custody" being applied to the end user - me. Customers themselves will not be affected if the wood in their guitar has passed all these hurdles; in fact, part of the latest CITES discussions were concerning the availability of a passport for guitars that contain regulated woods.
With all that in mind, three years ago I started labeling everything that I buy, and I'm now trying to remember the history of wood that I bought over 30 years ago. Not at all easy, but I’m getting there slowly. This picture is a composite of one small area of my wood store as I try and sort it out. I probably don't need to buy any more wood, but as I've said before, I hear voices!
|Rolling in my sweet baby's arms ~ 2 resonators.|
|For a very short while last week, I had both Martin Simpson's, and John Smith's resonator guitars here. A sort of "Brief Encounter". I did try to keep them apart, but love will out. I just hope we won't be hearing the pitter-patter of tiny nuts and bolts.|
Ramon is the brother of Joe Goose, who plays with Eric Bibb when he gets the chance, and, appropriately, Ramon ordered an Eric Bibb Signature. Here he is testing it out:
Guitar adoption agency
Eric was also involved in the sale of the Walnut Orsino that was up for adoption recently; he provided references for prospective parents living in America. The Orsino is leaving for the Colonies soon, but the little Walnut Ariel is staying behind, so the family is being split up. Surely there is some kind gentle person that could give it a loving home, and encourage the sending of Christmas cards and small gifts? See the guitar here.
|A satisfied customer
Joe Vitale has poured over every edition of the newsletter. I eventually mesmerized him into buying a Single Malt guitar, and then to order another guitar. Quite an interesting guy, take a look -
Sorry about the email problems recently. The picture of my glum face did bring an upside though - I received various comments, one of which compared me to a cross between Sean Connery and George Clooney. I will admit to having Sean Connery's hair, but nevertheless "Should have gone to specsavers" comes to mind.
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