Please note: due to changes in regulations and constant design developments, we sometimes need to change details such as binding and inlay materials.
I often tell myself I should have started making this design thirty years ago, while we were offering guitars to a bigger market. It's so comfortable to hold, good to look at and always sounds amazing, no matter what combination of woods we use.
The overall soundboard area of the Leonardo is slightly more than the Falstaff and Orsino, but the body is slightly shallower. These small differences are significant in terms of tone and comfort. I’ll add that this design doesn't look at all right without the cutaway, so please don't ask!
This one uses beautiful Curly Claro Walnut for the back and sides, and fine grained Sinker Redwood for the soundboard. Notched Square Pearl inlays on the 44.5mm ebony fingerboard, The neck is laminated from Mahogany and Walnut, with red lines. The headstock veneer is Walnut, Rosewood binding with red borders. Everything matches.
These timber combinations produce a lot of sound, even to a light touch. The guitar is very responsive and warm, like the very best human beings. No names.
For sale £6,500
It was important to show the widest possible range of guitars at Ullapool this year, and this guitar is a very interesting departure from our usual work. It has made quite an impression in a small, specific area of music, I thought Ullapool would be an ideal place to show it off. It drew a lot of interest.
The first one was made for Adam Palma to help him move to a better acoustic tone than he was getting up to that point. In principle, we always try to amplify the tone that the guitar offers, rather than build the guitar to work with a particular pickup system. Adam played fast, with a very low action so producing a good tone wasn't easy. This guitar design changed his life, quote; "thanks for believing in me Roger”.
Adam went on to show his guitar to Biréli Lagrène, and to Al Di Meola. who both demanded one instantly. Al took delivery of his at Ronnie Scott's club in London, (that was an interesting night!). Biréli used his for the whole of his Storyteller Album. He was interviewed in the USA just a few weeks ago and described it as his favourite acoustic guitar.
Anyway - there are a number of departures from our usual Falstaff design. First and foremost, the body is about 15mm shallower than usual. (105mm at the deepest point, compared to about 120mm) to make it more comfortable to hold, and to reduce some of the low overtones that tend to overload sound systems. Second, a cutaway, for obvious reasons. Third, a “thin” finish, Adam was adamant (sorry, couldn't avoid that, blame the English language) that he wanted the thinnest possible finish. I'm being asked for that more and more often and I'll probably write about it another time. Basically, we put most of the finish on, then rub it off! The final thin coat is rubbed by hand with fine wire wool and polish. It does look nice but I'm not keen to do it very often.
The first three versions of the guitar were each fitted with the LR Baggs Anthem Stage Pro pickup system, which is no longer available, so we haven't fitted anything to this guitar. We can discuss other options if needed. The soundboard is Sitka Spruce, which I don't use very often as it's a more typical "American" sound with more headroom than softer timbers. I regard is as more useful for fast plectrum playing, as it doesn’t "boom" in the first part of the note.
The guitar is for sale at £5500
I've chosen this older video to demonstrate Adam's use of this guitar; Adam wrote the tune to mark the day he first met the guitar, at the Rheged Guitar Show near our workshop. He no longer uses the soundhole plug and gets a truer acoustic sound than this, but he has lots of more recent videos on YouTube playing Chopin. On a Fylde Guitar!!
The lovely Richard, demonstrating his voice, his songs, and his Fylde Guitars. Well, some of them anyway. He doesn't get much chance to play his custom 12 string, as Shez (Shez Sheridan) won't let go of it. You should get one of your own Shez!
I'm really pleased with Richard's "Black Orleans" guitar, Martin Simpson was heavily involved with that design, and it went through quite a lot of discussion about final details.
We are still talking about the best pickup arrangements. That's always an issue as Richard cut his teeth on electric guitars and occupies a different space in the music world to most of my customers. I enjoy the variety and different perspectives of all that, the options and discussions, it's more or less what I've been doing for fifty years.
This is a great video, in a small venue with Richard at his most relaxed, and there are a lot of excellent comments, several people thought it should be released as a CD.
Here are a few more:
"This Man’s Voice soothes a worried Mind and Heals a Sad Soul."
"48 and a bit minutes of pure heaven---".
"Me encanta su música".
I sort of recognise three of us, but I don't remember Theresa May replacing Moira.
Tony Husband died a few weeks ago, so these cartoons were among the last ones he drew. I will treasure them.
Many years ago, "The Fylde Works Band" actually did exist, we even performed in public.
Maz had lots of plans this year, new tour, new recording, and needed a new guitar to go along with her custom Ariel.
Here she is with that first guitar. She's a very gentle person, with a lovely voice.
And here is the new guitar. An Ariel, made for Nylon strings! We do love to make something different. Maz was keen to have it reasonably eco-friendly, it's English Walnut for the back and sides, rather a pretty piece I must say, and Western Red Cedar for the soundboard. The ebony fingerboard was chosen from the more colourful pieces that arrive nowadays, a result of much more realistic felling practices around the sawmills in recent years.
Although it's an Ariel, I decided it needed to have the longer scale length of 648mm to get the best result from the nylon strings. It’s very nice. Maz hasn’t seen it yet. You have!
I do get used guitars for sale, but mostly they don't stay long enough to find their way onto my newsletter. This guitar has been a little buried amongst all the new Anniversary guitars and I haven’t had much chance to show it to anybody.
But now I can. Made in 2007, it's in excellent condition, we've refretted it. A good action, nicely played in, smooth, even, mellow tone. Just like Eric's voice!
For sale at £3,800
I'm thinking of having a separate section on the website for second hand Fyldes so that I can explain them better. After 50 years, it's inevitable that more are coming onto the market, and we are the best people to look them over, make any adjustments needed, and find them a good second home. I wouldn't want anybody else to do it, but there are only three of us here, and nearly 10,000 Fylde instruments to look after. We are busy!
Who would have thought this would ever be played on an acoustic guitar?
He's good isn’t he?
I think Tristan was prompted to record this after his annihilation of everybody on the pool table at Ullapool. Next time we play I'm going to video him, publish it in slow motion and use this as the soundtrack.
Why do so many guitarists use stockinged (socked?) feet on pedal boards? Doesn't it hurt?
Jule sent me this picture today. Thanks Jule.
Jule has a new single out on 24th November, it was too soon to be recorded on her new Fylde Guitar, but she is "family" now, so she cannot escape from the clutches of the Fylde Guitars Newsletter. She's a star, a bright, shiny one.
Will has a new single out as well. This is how he explained the project to me:
"I recorded that Studio Ghibli arrangement on the Fylde Ariel. It's simply a beautiful bit of music from the film and I thought it would work well as an arrangement in DADGAD. " "Studio Ghibli is a legendary Japanese animation studio headed up by the director Hayao Miyazaki. Famous films include Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle. They're known for their gorgeous animation style, fantastical stories and crucially in my case - their stunning soundtracks created by Joe Hisasihi. It's often said that Hisaishi is to Miyazaki what John Williams is to Steven Spielberg. I've always been taken by the music in Ghibli films, in fact the first dance at mine and Clare's wedding was to a waltz by Hisaishi called Merry-Go-Round of Life"
I remember that dance!
Will ‘will’ also have a new book published soon, he's always busy.
This is what Will says … “Hi folks, I’m very happy to announce that after months of work (and years of thought on the topic!) that I’ve finished my first ever guitar method book. It takes a deep dive into the areas that I find so enjoyable about the acoustic guitar - all things expression.
It feels so good to have got so many of these ideas I’ve been talking about for years down on the page, and I’m exceptionally grateful to the publishing company, Fundamental Changes, for making the book a reality.
The book contains 100 musical examples (both exercises and study pieces) which walk you through the process of adding more expression into your playing by considering elements such as dynamics, tone, articulation and timing.
The release date is January 9th 2024, it’ll be available in paperback, Kindle and PDF formats, includes all audio and some helpful videos as well. I’ll keep you posted on how to buy it when it releases.”
As wonderful as ever, and if you want to start learning to play a little bit like that, buy Remi’s new book! Gypsy Jazz Soloing Etudes Volume Two
“If you want to learn a language, there’s no better way than spending time with someone who speaks it fluently. Discover exciting solo etudes over Gypsy Jazz Standards and must-know chord progressions.”
This is Clive talking about his Album, and about his lovely Ralph Bown Guitar. A lot of what he talks about is very relevant to guitar making in general. Clive does use his Fylde guitar on the Album, exclusively on one track. And his Fylde Mandolin!
Clive and Dariush played near here a couple of weeks ago and stayed over. We spent the evenings talking about guitars, telling stories, eating, drinking and playing pool. That's the life of a professional musician, non-stop fun. I like to join in when I get chance. I always provide the chalk for the cue tips, and the whisky later on.
Some things in the news prompted me to feature this video again.
A quite lovely tune with a splendid arrangement played on John's Fylde Nylon string that he discovered at Ullapool a few years ago, I do like to take 'something different' every year, and there is usually a very suitable customer.
John is a stalwart of the Ullapool Festival and one of Scotland’s most well respected and well-connected musicians. he will be playing near to us every soon, with Adam Bulley and Chas MacKenzie, just about the best guitar and mandolin etc combo you can imagine.
On a similar theme, Arthur sent me this quite recently, although it was recorded a while ago, on his Fylde Alchemist. It couldn't be more simple or more effective could it?
It would have been more appropriate to use these two videos nearer to Armistice day, but the latest international horrors make them relevant any day, any time of year.
Gordon Giltrap told me a story. Some years ago, on a visit to Jim Marshalls house (yes, THE Jim Marshall), Jim gave him a home-made bird table . A bird table made by Jim Marshall. Can it get any better? Yes, it can.
Jim signed it.
And it's now in our garden. Thanks Gordon.
The birds seem a bit louder on that table, isn't that odd?
I've just invented something. A Dawn Chorus Pedal!!!!!!!!
Gordon has started to rebuild his life since Hilary died. "I'm well and truly back where I belong on stage with my beautiful Fyldes. Four concerts so far this end of the year and standing ovations at each one!"
Well done, Gordon, richly deserved.
Gordon has more plans for his future musical life, I'll be reporting in due course.
Deirdre sends me some lovely Irish music from time to time. She also sent me Realta's new Album - "Thing of the earth"
I've not had chance to play it yet, something to do with Mice and Pipes, you'll understand when you read the following story.
For years I've maintained that it's always best to leave one little job undone when you renovate a house, just a small job. My experience over the years is that as soon as all the jobs are done you start to think about moving house. And I really don't want to move from this one.
The small job in this case was fitting vinyl flooring to the upstairs bathroom, it has been bare floorboards for about eleven years. I didn't mind, we don't use it very often. There was also a bit of logic, because I was sure that as soon as I had the vinyl fitted, it was highly likely I would need to take it up again.
This is a large house, where much of the renovation, and all the plumbing, was done by me. It's a combination of underfloor heating, and two different styles of radiators with six separate heating zones. Typical Bucknall over complication in an attempt to reach perfection.
It took many years to get that far, and I did some of the plumbing in plastic "PEX" pipe to help get round difficult situations. That was a mistake, as I found out about eight years ago when I had warm water coming through the hallway ceiling. Mice. Little blighters. Carpet up, tongue and groove floorboard up, replace complicated plastic pipe with complicated copper pipe. Job done.
Except, there was more plastic pipe under the bathroom floor. I really did not want to put down that new vinyl flooring, I knew what would happen.
But, about two months ago, we gave in, and had the vinyl fitted. All very pretty and tidy. House finished.
Two lady guests staying and using the newly vinyled and finished upstairs bathroom. Three o’clock in the morning, water coming downstairs through the ceiling, and through the lightswitch.
Plumber didn't answer the phone, what am I saying? - I am the plumber. Every system turned off, brand new vinyl pulled aside, floorboards roughly crowbarred up, leak found, pipes drained, mopped up, pipe replaced (with plastic again - don't you dare say a word!), light switch dried out, filled system again, turned it all on, found major air lock, vented everything, got it working, put floor and vinyl back in place, back to bed.
Guests said they never heard a thing, but they are old, and deaf, and I don't believe them anyway. (Sorry girls, you know how I like to exaggerate a little.)
Still no answer from the proper plumber, but decided to relax and wait until I could get his younger, more patient help before tackling the inevitable and long overdue job of replacing all the plastic with proper mouse proof, professional pipes.
Two nights later. TWO NIGHTS. It happened again. Same Pipe. Same Mouse? Three o'clock in the morning - why is everything at three o clock in the morning ? Oh, I did laugh. Proper plumber still not answering the phone.
Same again, vinyl up, not so carefully this time. Floor up again, not so carefully this time either. Everything turned off and drained down. I replaced that section of pipe again, with copper ( yeah - I know now!). The very second I tightened the final joint, the phone rang. It was the proper plumber. That's what I'm going to put in my address book. "The Proper Plumber." Under PP.
He did come out a few hours later, I think just to have a good laugh. Can you have a love hate relationship with a plumber? We made a plan, he would push all his other work around until he could find a spare day sometime in the next two weeks, I would phone him and chase him a bit in a few days’ time.
So, I did, and he did phone back, but his schedule had tightened even further, and since I now had it all working again, with properly functioning water and heating, he couldn't prioritise me over all his other customers that were freezing to death and dying of thirst, and I couldn't argue with that. I need to be clear here, he's a genuinely nice guy, very pleasant, patient and very skilled. I'd recommend him. I'm sure he will come and help as soon as he can, if only to have another good laugh.
But since then, I've done it. By the time you read this, there will be no plastic pipe anywhere in our house. It wasn't easy, that's why I didn't do it in the first place. I am appropriately worn out. On the upside, my soldering skills have had a bit more practice, and I now know that my smoke detectors do work. If only I'd done it twelve years ago. Or not fitted that damned vinyl .
I've told various people the sorry story. John Smith tried to convince me that he knows a band called Mice and Pipes.
There would have been one more, but it "became broken". I could tell you who was responsible. Maybe I will. But seeing as they bought it, I'm not saying too much.
I took nine bottles to Ullapool, and came back with sixteen. Admittedly, a lot of them were then empty, but we do like to take our litter home.
Besides, I have always saved all my empty bottles going back about forty years, but no duplicates. I must get a picture of them one day.
I often get bottles sent to me. They don't always have any note with them, and no clue on the shipping labels so I've no idea where they came from. I think it's some sort of guessing game. Any clues?
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