• Martin SImpson's 12 Fret (no1)
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Martin Simpson Guitar-LC0A2956

Martin Simpson 12-fret (no 1)

Martin was inspired by some 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 is a neck with no truss rod and no metal components. It's made from mahogany reclaimed from a snooker table leg, with Ebony laminations, carbon fibre reinforcement, 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 like Richards guitar, we have used Snakewood for the bindings, head veneer and bridge. That bit of added luxury to a simple concept makes it wonderful to look at, and it feels natural and perfectly balanced to hold and play.

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

Robson tuners, and three pickups, Highlander 1p2, McIntyre Feather, and a vintage DeArmond in the sound hole, all a bit tricky, but tremendous fun to make if you discount the stress level in the workshop for the last few weeks. Thanks Alex, thanks Paul, thanks Moira. Building guitars like these is a bit like a sport: adrenalin, expectation and stress are part of the process, and it all pays off when it works.

Martin used it straight away at his guitar weekend and phoned several times to report in. It is the "best set up" guitar he has, and it "outperformed" all the other guitars at that weekend.

I've been receiving calls about it from the workshop guests. It's a massive success and I expect to be making more.

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