January 2021

  • Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret
  • Adam Palma
  • Bill Neale
  • John Smith. Single and New Album "The Fray"
  • Martin Simpson and Michael Watts
  • Ben Robertson Comparing Two Fylde Oberons
  • John Legend
  • Dave Holmes Si Bheag, Si Mhor
  • Custom Long Scale Bouzouki for sale
  • Elliott Morris. Out on the Ice
  • Findlay Napier
  • Aircraft Grade Sitka Spruce
  • Bill Bailey
  • NAMM Video
  • Wood Sweat and Tears extended- again
  • Jigsaws for Charity
  • Strings that Nimble Leap
  • Mike Waterson
  • The Rubber Band
Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret

A special order for a regular customer.

The design is a mixture of new and old features, a "Modern Interpretation" if you like.

It's based around a 12-fret neck join, with the lower bridge position giving the soundboard maximum freedom to move. The cutaway restores the lost fretboard access, and the long scale length encourages maximum energy input.  It is also very well balanced, compact, and a joy to play.

We've been making this style for perhaps ten years and it's destined to become a Classic design. I'm trying to think of a Shakespearean name, someone beautiful and well bred? Is there a Moira in Shakespeare?

Imbuya is sometimes known as Brazilian Walnut, it is similar in properties to most Walnuts, and is a dream to work with. These pieces are unusually well figured, and the Sinker Redwood top keeps the appearance warm and dark, which is much the same as the tone.

We are all very pleased.

  • Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret
 
 
  • Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret  LC1A8475
  • Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret LC1A8479
  • Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret  LC1A8486
  • Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret LC1A8494
  • Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret LC1A8490
Imbuya and Redwood 12 fret  LC1A8475

Adam Palma

When I hear Chopin played by Adam, I'm reminded of piano pieces played by my sister many years ago. Then other pieces pop into my mind, it is such iconic music. Who would have thought it would transpose to guitar so well?

Adams website


Bill Neale

Bill was the long-term guitarist for the Temptations. The gold disc on the wall behind him is for his guitar solo on “Sad Eyes” by Robert John, a number one hit in 1979. Bill is also a friend and business colleague of Bob Benedetto, the highly renowned Arch Top guitar builder, I have his book!

This guitar has been evolving for nearly a year, during which time Bill has come to admire the playing of Clive Carroll and Adam Palma. We've gone to a lot of trouble finding the right piece of Spruce for the soundboard and discussing details and dimensions. It's a shallow Falstaff, with a cutaway, rather similar to Adam's and Bill says "The guitar is magnificent! It’s stunning to look at. I’m in awe of your work! Gorgeous.... It’s the best sounding acoustic guitar that I have ever played. It truly is..."

Below is Bill with the Temptations and beginning on 26th January, Bill will be playing guitar for "9 to 5, The Musical", a live, socially distanced show in Florida - there is music despite Covid. Hooray.

More about Bill on Benedetto's website

John Smith. Single and New Album "The Fray"

Like all the best people, John has not wasted the last year, he has written and recorded a whole new album. I've heard it, it's lovely. Listen to just one word of a song, or one note from the guitar and you know who it is, he has such a distinctive voice and guitar style. I know there are a lot of John Smith's but there is only ONE John Smith. That would make an excellent T shirt slogan woudn't it? - John?

You can download the single here.

From John: "My new album ‘The Fray’ will be released March 26th on Commoner Records/Thirty Tigers worldwide. Recorded at Real World Studios in Wiltshire and produced by Sam Lakeman and myself, ‘The Fray’ features guest performances from Sarah Jarosz, Bill Frisell, Lisa Hannigan, The Milk Carton Kids, Jess Staveley-Taylor and Courtney Hartman.

Ordinarily I would hit the road for fifty nights to tour a new record! For this release however, I’ve put together a bunch of pre-order packages, available only through my website. There are T-Shirt bundles, exclusive recordings, guitar lessons, private concerts, a high-quality ticketed livestream event on the weekend of release and more."

John is hoping to keep this as personal as he can, trying to interact with people almost as he would on tour and looking forward to the new way of meeting you. He has a massive range of options in his store.

Here’s the link to the pre-order store


Martin Simpson and Michael Watts

A very well arranged and informative interview with Martin, talking about many of the guitar makers who he knows so well. All the oldies like myself and Stefan Sobell get plenty of mentions (Martin even stole one of my jokes), and he finishes up talking about another UK maker, Rory Dowling, and one much younger, Rosie Heydenrych. Martin does like to encourage all we strange folk who make guitars for a living. Thank you, Martin.

Martin and I have some very enjoyable conversations, sometimes it's world events, sometimes it's music. Last week, it was snakes, rats and spiders. All true.

Here is a picture of Martin playing out "Look North" a few weeks ago, following all the rules. Such strange times.

Martin's Website


Ben Robertson Comparing Two Fylde Oberons

I asked Ben to make this video some months ago, it just missed one newsletter and I put it aside to use the next month. I am ashamed to say that it got missed out again, and I've absolutely no excuse, other than old age, pressure of work, forgetfulness, bad manners, ignorance, stupidity and oh - Covid. I am sorry Ben, it's here now.

Ben had been playing the older guitar for quite some time but fell in love with the new one at Ullapool, so as soon as he had both in his hands, we talked about the differences, and I thought it would be an interesting story.

There are some technical differences between the two, early Fyldes had light but stiff bracing, which I've strengthened but made more flexible over the years. In engineering terms, that is the difference between "statics" and "dynamics".  The first Oberons were a little too "bosomy " in shape, so I reduced the top bouts a little. The neck design is different, and the early guitars used German Spruce, the later ones, Englemann, although they are quite similar woods.

There are clearly differences and similarities in the sound, I won't offer my own observations - that is up to you. It has already been interesting to hear some comments.

Ben's Website


John Legend

One of my regular, very sharp-eyed spies sent me this. Watch out at 00.52, don't blink or you'll miss it. I wish I had a voice like John's, or for that matter, a house like John's.

David Mead helped me discover who the guitarist is - It’s Pete Callard:

"That was me, and I was playing a Fylde Orsino, so well spotted on both accounts! I also did a couple of tunes with Gregory Porter on the same programme, but on electric. The Fylde has been my go-to acoustic for years - it's such a great guitar and I’ve used it on lots of sessions as it sounds great and records really well."

Pete graduated as Outstanding Student of the Year from the Musicians’ Institute in Hollywood, California. He has played with Lionel Richie, Queen, Annie Lennox, The Bee Gees, Ronan Keating, Will Young, Shirley Bassey and Chaka Khan, in addition to being involved with numerous TV shows, films and recordings.

In the guitar community he’s perhaps best known for his regular columns in Guitar Techniques, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazines.

I've mentioned before that Fylde is very well represented amongst studio and theatre musicians and music journalists.

Here is another: Dave Holmes.


Dave Holmes Si Bheag, Si Mhor

Another of our professional customers, whiling away his enforced spare time playing tunes about the relative size of Fairy Mounds. (Google it)

"Being a guitarist, the bouzouki is a strange and exotic beast! This Fylde Long scale Archtop is a beauty. In an attempt to familiarise myself with it, I decided to come up with an arrangement of this Turlough O'Carolan classic".

I wanted to know what was running on the Computer screen in the background, so I asked Dave about it:

"The software behind me is the Logic Remote controller app running on my iPad. My recording area/booth is a few metres away from my computer. Using the iPad app means I can control Logic without having to keep getting up whenever I need to do a another take or drop in. The “undo” command is heavily utilised!"

What a good idea - I could use an "Undo" command in all sorts of places, just imagine, wandering around, shouting "UNDO" at anything that displeases you?

Dave's Website


Custom Long Scale Bouzouki for sale

By pure coincidence, an instrument rather similar to the one played above, and for sale!

It started life as a custom signature short scale, about eight years ago, then we fitted a long scale neck. The owner has now part exchanged it for a guitar cittern.

The custom features - a fine Cedar top rather than Spruce, so it has a mellower tone than usual, and the bindings are curly Koa rather than Rosewood.

The back and sides are the usual Indian Rosewood and the neck is laminated with a Rosewood centre section.

Fitted with a Headway Bouzouki pickup, complete with fitted case, fully checked over and restrung.

SOLD

  • Bouzouki for Sale
 
 
  • bouzouki LC1A8498
  • Bouzouki LC1A8504
  • Bouzouki LC1A8507
  • Bouzouki LC1A8514
bouzouki LC1A8498

Elliott Morris. Out on the Ice

Elliott giving it large almost exactly a year ago, when the world didn't seem so bad. Welcome back Elliott.                                                                                           

Elliott's website


Findlay Napier

The picture is from Findlay's upcoming album with Angus Lyon.

Findlay and Reg Mueross are running a 3 day online songwriting workshop on 2nd - 4th Feb. Ticket link here.

With Boo Hewerdine, Findlay is also running two more workshops,

Bird on a Wire 4 (26th-30th April) and Bird on a Wire 5 (17th-21st May). Link here

People who’d like to sponsor a place please email info@birdonawire.info


Aircraft Grade Sitka Spruce

I have some history of using Spruce in aircraft repair, (no jokes about Biggles and Sopwith Camels please, it wasn't that long ago. I have my own joke about Biggles, but Moira won't let me tell it). Sitka is one of the biggest softwood trees, so is very useful for obtaining long timber for aircraft spars and ship's masts. The age of the timber usually means slow growth and close, straight grain, which also implies stiffness and strength.

All those properties are also essential in guitar soundboards and bracing, although perhaps the physical appearance is rather more important in guitar soundboards.

Have a close look at the grain in this piece of wood, and at the "arrows" on the side of the block. If the arrows are biased to one edge, the grain isn't vertical, and if the arrows are pointed, the grain isn't running quite true along the length. The side you can see isn’t parallel, but the side I am sawing from is perfect, it will correct as we move across.

Each slice shown is enough for the bracing on one soundboard, so this block will make perhaps twenty sets of bracing. I do hope to get more from my new aviation friends, and I hope to have more "aircraft” pictures to show you soon.


Bill Bailey

Bill's video with his Fylde Mandola on the Graham Norton Show has now reached 1.2 million views and as we know, he went on to win "Strictly Come Dancing" - see what happens when you play Fylde?

Well done Bill. Bill's Website.


NAMM Video

On January 19th, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in the USA, held an online collection of videos as part of their Believe in Music Week event. Dan Del Fiorentino asked if I would mind if they used one made here in 2011, as a "highlight of the collection". Link to Video

I wondered if perhaps they wanted it for its comedy value? But no - “I really love it; I want more people to know about you and the amazing work you do for musicians around the world!" Wow, thanks Dan.

It's ten years old now, and there are bits I would change but mostly still accurate and relevant. You can choose the short or long version.  I don’t know what is happening with my left eyebrow.


Wood Sweat and Tears extended - again

The book is selling well, and it's been very well received, especially by those with very strong arms. I've had it reprinted already. Shipping costs have changed a lot recently, so for export orders we are quoting individually.

It is also available as a downloadable e-book; just be sure you understand what is involved and download the right version for you.

Buy it here now:

Link to book

Link to e book


Jigsaws for Charity

Two satisfied customers ... one from Italy, one from the USA

We still have a few jigsaws available, and we are all still in lock down, what else can you do with your time?

Link to jigsaws


Strings that Nimble Leap

The Charity double album is still selling well, it is wonderful, everybody should have it. There are now about three pages of links on Google about it, with some lovely comments.

Link to the Album


Mike Waterson

Mike's daughter sent me this picture a little while ago. It would have been his 80th birthday this week.

Mike and I would talk about guitars and wood for ever. The picture on the back of the “Fylde Book" is of the astonishing Brazilian Rosewood that I bought from him and used to make guitars for Anne Waterson, Richard Hawley, John Smith and Martin Simpson. A lovely, long and still continuing story.


The Rubber Band

I've used this in the newsletter several times, one of Mike's songs that I play when things are looking grim, it's so happy and uplifting, you'll feel better immediately.

Turn the volume up - no, that's not enough, turn it UP I said!

I don't know what's wrong with young people nowadays, they play everything far too quietly.


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