March 2020 Newsletter

  • Bill Bailey
  • Dangerously Changing - Sam Lyon and Robert Goodwin
  • Ken Nicol
  • Bireli Lagrene
  • Snakewood
  • Snake Davies
  • Guy Tortora
  • Jack Haigh
  • Clive Carroll
  • Tristan Seume - These Dreams
  • That Famous Cello Song
  • The Belltar
  • Peghead Nation
  • Will McNicol. Midsummer Duet
  • Peter the Pheasant
Bill Bailey

A "works outing" to see Bill at a local Venue. Bill was testing out some new material to get warmed up for his next tour, he was very funny as usual, and used his Fylde Mandola for his closing numbers.

After the show, we met up to the Green Room for a chat, Bill decided that we should have a photo taken in the “disdainful, disinterested" style of the typical 1970's album cover.

Bill obviously knew what he was doing, Moira got the idea, and I just used my normal face. But what happened to Alex and Paul? Aaah - I get it, they didn’t know what "1970's” meant! I think Alex saw it as a holiday snap, and Paul, well, maybe a maths exam?

And here I am pointing it out in front of thousands of readers. How mean of me.

Dangerously Changing - Sam Lyon and Robert Goodwin

It is getting a bit serious isn't it? We've lost two cars to floods in recent years, we are so lucky that it has only been cars. Having grandchildren sort of focus's everything, it's not going to get any better without staggering amounts of effort.

The song is explained in the notes to the video. Any money raised from the song will be donated to The Woodland trust in the UK, and the Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund

If you want to buy the track click here

Sam's Website

The audio was recorded with Bob's early Oberon, and in the video, he is using his custom Goodfellow. Bob had inherited an unknown piece of wood from his father and hoped I could make a guitar out of it.

I identified the wood as some variety of "Satinwood", then Bob did more research and identified it more accurately as "Coachwood" from Australia.

Satinwood Goodfellow

I often have people visit who have unusual pieces of wood that they think I might want. They are usually right! I wasn’t sure about the big lump of dirty timber that Bob brought until I took the plunge and had it sawn up.

So, if anyone out there has some odd-looking planks lying around, drop me a line!

  • Satinwood Goodfellow
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Ken Nicol

It's about time we had a video from Ken. Here he is, playing the guitar from last month’s newsletter, one of Gordon Giltrap's very early guitars, made about 1976, repaired and rebuilt at various times., now belonging to Chris Abrams. Ken was a bit upset about a minor "fluff" towards the end, I blame it on trying to play cross legged sitting on the arm of a leather couch.

Ken's website

Biréli Lagrène

Biréli keeps on putting out these great videos, there are now quite a few of him playing pieces from his "Storyteller" album, this one has a different feel to lots of his others.

Guitar maker's Splinters

We don't have many accidents here, (says me, desperately holding on to the biggest piece of wood I can find), but there was an "incident" a few weeks ago and Moira decided that Alex and Paul should get some proper first aid training.

But we do get a lot of splinters, (Wenge is just about banned), and one of the first bits of training here is the best way to remove them. Many years ago, I discovered a neat little trick which nobody ever wants to try, until they get used to it and like me, would now never use any other method. A clean, sharp chisel, tiny nick in the skin above the splinter, push the corner of the chisel under the end of the splinter, press down with the thumb to grip the splinter and gently pull it out. For a deeper or bigger splinter, all that is needed is a little deeper nick of the skin. Never fails.

I wasn’t at the first aid training this time, but I do wish I had seen the medic's faces when Alex and Paul proudly explained and demonstrated their superior technique. Tweezers? Naah - let me show you a much better way!! Well done lads.

Guitar maker's Splinters

Brosimum guianense, probably the most expensive of all the exotic hardwoods. The wood is available only in small logs, and the quality can vary enormously, sometimes a log will yield hardly any useful timber, but because of the strong pattern, it's possible to splice shorter lengths together, leaving the joins hidden in the darker marks.

I love using it for bindings, and it is available ready cut for this purpose, but that removes much of the appeal for me, because I like to be close to the timber all the way through the cutting process, if I buy ready-made bindings it's as if I'm paying somebody else to have fun on my behalf, so when I get the chance to buy a log, it's hard to resist. I don't mind going without food for a while. Moira says I should try it more often, the food that is, not the log.

There has been a gap of several years when Snakewood hasn't been available, and I've been running low, but I did find this rather nice log, and dragged my usual sawyer out of retirement. It's a very skilled job, requiring special saws and lot of experience.

It’s fairly clear where this wood got its common name, it looks good when partnered with almost any other timber, but I do feel justified in keeping it for the highest value instruments.

Snake Davies

Snake is possibly the UK's best-known saxophonist. He had one of our guitars for quite a while, and he plays with a lot of our friends, so the link to Snakewood was a bit too good to miss. I spoke to him recently, and he couldn't remember why he bought the guitar, but we didn't make the obvious silly comments about "where to blow into it" etc.

Anyway, here is some fun sax playing, and here is his website
Snake's website

Guy Tortora

There are a lot of Fylde guitars out there, earning a living, and it's difficult to keep track. Occasionally I remember one and start searching YouTube.

Guy is originally from Carolina, USA, but is now based in London. He has had the Goodfellow for quite some time, this style of small bodied 14 fret guitar has been described as a natural "Blues" guitar, in fact, George Clinton, who was the editor of the English "Guitar Magazine" in the 1970"s, commissioned a version of the Goodfellow, which he marketed as the "Bluesmaster" for a while. I love to see acoustic guitars used "strongly" like this, and the small bodied Goodfellow doesn't swamp everything with masses of bass. It's very well suited.

Jack Haigh

I keep saying it, we need more from Jack

I know little about Jack, other than his playing and choice of music are wonderful.

Clive Carroll

You might have heard about Clive's latest project, the one where he walks all-round the coast of Great Britain? In between playing his usual gigs, writing music, teaching, etc?

All in aid of Help Musicians UK (Hooray) and the RNLI (Hooray again).

I know little about Jack, other than his playing and choice of music are wonderful.

This bit of film is brilliant, I think Clive has a whole new career in front of him, and there will be a series of them over the next year or so to look forward to. We really are very impressed and will do our best to buy him pints and butties at various places along the way.

Clive's website

Tristan Seume - These Dreams

Tris is a great fan of Heart and their Music, when he told me that he had developed this arrangement of "These Dreams", I realised I could do him a lovely favour, and managed to get the video sent specially to Nancy Wilson. My "little black book" again! Actually, Nancy had one of my Citterns at one time so contact wasn't that hard.

She loved the video , and sent Tris a personal email straight back. There has been about a 2 foot gap under his feet ever since.

Tris's site.

That Famous Cello Song
That Famous Cello Song

Otherwise known as Bach's Cello Suite No.1 in G major, this is a very well-known piece, but deceptively simple, and a great way to learn the musical structure.

Lots of music written for Cello has been transposed for guitar, Segovia and John Renbourn come to mind. The musical range of the two instruments is similar, and the strings of the Cello are only a little longer to accommodate a low C. That difference is important though, as far as I can find, all the guitar versions of this piece are played in D rather than G. I can't find anyone explaining the music when using a guitar though.

The Belltar

Here we are, Adam Holmes in the studio with his new five string guitar, recording with “The Magpie Arc" for their first album.

Best not to have that many loose leads when you are on stage Adam!

Magpie Arc's webpage

Peghead Nation
Teja Gerken is a well-known guitarist in the San Francisco area and writes for national magazines.

A great video, I don't think I've ever heard someone talking about a Caliban before. When we first made these, I was trying to express my love of Gypsy music and offer a guitar that nodded towards Selmer guitars, but using my own experience rather than go too far into uncharted territory.

Link to video

The guitar belongs to Bruce Victor of "Noctambule". He has owned a number of Fyldes, and seems to move between them from time to time.

Bruce Victor's Website

Will McNicol. Midsummer Duet
Good old Will, always up for a challenge, using his spare set of hands to play his Tom Sands Guitar, and his Fylde Ariel at the same time.

Both guitars have Sinker Redwood soundboards, and I think this proves how significant the soundboard is to the overall tone of a guitar, here it's difficult to pick out one instrument, even when watching which strings are being played.

Now, Will, what about three guitars?

Will website

Tom Sands' website

Peter the Pheasant
Just a little insight into our lives.

We are visited by a family of red squirrels every morning, we put a little food on the bird table, shout out "come and get it" in our best squirrel voice, and bang on the table with the food scoop. All the little birds come first, they must understand squirrel better than the squirrels, who appear about five minutes later.

But before all this happens, Peter the pheasant has been on watch. He stands on the lawn until our curtains open, then scurries round to the front door and announces his readiness for breakfast with a very loud squawk. He has been known to become impatient and peck the glass quite hard.

But a few days ago, we had a few inches of snow and we didn't wake up at our usual time.

Peter had showed his displeasure in a very direct and rather rude way. Nasty ungrateful Peter.

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