• Martin SImpson's 12 Fret (no2)
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Martin Simpson 12-fret (no 2)

A beautiful guitar, stunning even, with a story attached to it.

We made the first version of this from Mahogany nearly a year ago, and Martin has been playing it a lot, it's on his latest album " Rooted". We both wanted to know how it would sound when made from Rosewood.

This Rosewood is rather special, it's ancient Brazilian that Mike Waterson "found" some years ago, sold to me, and I had it sawn and licensed. We used it to make a guitar for Anne Waterson, then one for Richard Hawley, then John Smith, and now, Martin. It's almost "family". I must try and get a group photograph; I'll need a title though. I think "The Family Tree" is taken.

The design is based around the bridge position, right in the middle of the most flexible part of the soundboard. This almost inevitably results in a neck joint at the 12th fret, which adds symmetry to the design and makes the guitar balance very nicely. Because of the short neck, Martin wanted a cutaway on this guitar, and we both think the slotted head is very appropriate.

Martin's guitar tone is known for "clarity", he doesn't want an added layer of bass on every note, so the body is quite shallow, which raises its resonant frequency and keeps everything "light", rather than "dark". We more or less took turns in suggesting design features, and agreed completely each time, sort of egging each other on and both becoming more excited at every stage.

Like the earlier version, the neck is laminated mahogany from a reclaimed snooker table leg, reinforced with carbon fibre, with no neck bolts, or adjustable truss rod. In fact, no metal components in the neck at all. I'm not making any major claims for that, it's just something I wanted to try, the idea of having no internal metal was compelling, but whatever the logic, it works. It wasn't easy to get the neck "set" right, and I told Martin I wasn't keen on trying it again, but I've changed my mind, it's worth the trouble.

Waverly tuners with Snakewood buttons. Highlander ip2 pickup with McIntyre Feather in the second channel. We have prepared it for a DeArmond pickup in case Martin discovers another one soon.

Small Abalone diamond inlays, Snakewood bindings with red borders, the soundboard is Master Grade Swiss Pine, with a fair bit of Bearclaw grain. I think Switzerland does still have bears, or they did until they shot the last one in 2013. Brexit, pursued by a bear. Oh dear, sorry Mr Shakespeare.

It's a lovely thing, Martin is exceptionally pleased, he is in the middle of a 50-date tour, using both Fyldes and his Stefan Sobell guitars. He says the first one "spits" the notes out. He hasn't told me what this one does yet. What is better than "spit"?

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