• Martin Simpson's first Orleans guitar for sale

Martin Simpson's first Orleans Guitar - SOLD

Martin does not have too many guitars, that isn't the problem. The difficulty is that his house is too small. If we Include his Resonator, and the custom "Gibson" banjo, he has five instruments made by ourselves. So, it's very sad, but something has to go. Then he can buy another guitar. And repeat.

This guitar is the first of its type, containing all the technical features that we discussed over beer, wine and lamb chops all those years go.

Martin is inspired by classic, old guitars and had the basic idea of what he was after. Between us we came up with a shallow bodied 12 fret "Falstaff" size, lightly built with Mahogany back and sides (made from the rails of an old snooker table), and a lovely Swiss Pine Soundboard. Martin believes in guitar makers being given freedom, and my contribution in "concept" was a neck with no truss rod and no metal components. Apart from the tuners and strap pins, there is no metal in this guitar. The neck is made from Mahogany reclaimed from a snooker table leg, with significant carbon fibre reinforcement, Ebony laminations with red lines, and a mortice and tenon neck joint.

The headstock has extra "splay" in the slots to improve the string path from the 48mm neck. I think the head looks rather sweet, and we have used Snakewood for the bindings, head veneer and bridge. That bit of added luxury with such a simple concept makes it wonderful to look at, and it feels natural and perfectly balanced to hold and play. It weighs less than 2 kg and is incredibly responsive.

The body is shallow, the neck is wide and neither have I wings to fly. Sorry, where was I?

Robson tuners, and a Highlander 1p2 pickup with a McIntyre Feather on the second channel. That combination of pickups has been the basis of Martin's famous amplified sound for many years. There is an extra jack socket hole in the end block where Martin had his valuable De Armond installed, but we could plug that with mahogany or fit a dummy jack socket to disguise it, so just ask.

When he took delivery, Martin used it straight away at his guitar weekend and phoned several times to report in. It was the "best set up" guitar he had, and it "outperformed" all the other guitars there.

There was one thing that Martin needed, that this guitar doesn't have - a cutaway. The next two versions of the guitar included a cutaway so one way or another, this one is surplus and must be sacrificed.

We have polished out some of the small marks that were proof of its professional use, live and in recordings, but left some small nail marks under the strings--remaining evidence of its history.

It's difficult to know how much to ask, the "hardware" alone would cost £500 if it were still available. It's one of Martin Simpson's personal guitars, custom made for him, that he had a large part in designing. Such guitars do not become available very often. Maybe never.

I discussed it with Martin, and we decided that £4,500 would be about right, so do please enquire.

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