March 2022 - Second Edition

  • Guitar for Ukraine raises over £10,000
  • New Guitar for Antiono Forcione
  • Will McNicol Tutorial.
  • Tenor Mandola for sale - SOLD
  • John Smith. Star Crossed Lovers
  • John Smith. The Fray Variations
  • Tristan Seume
  • Octavius and Mark Knopfler
  • David Delarre's new Bouzouki
  • Dave Holmes Freewheeling
  • Ben Robertson. Rosewood
  • Billy Watman
  • Sam Fender and his Mandolin
  • Billy Mitchell and Bob Fox
  • Bending Guitar Sides
  • Troy Donockley. One Million Hits!
  • A selection of recent "releases". I can't keep up with them all:
  • Duck Baker
  • Deidre Galway and Conor Lamb
  • Elliott Morris
  • Lark in the morning on Bouzouki
  • And you've spent all your money on Whisky and Beer
  • Dubliners. The Wild Rover
Guitar for Ukraine raises over £10,000

This story was in the recent brief newsletter, and now I can tell you how it worked out. I had several offers for the guitar in the first few minutes, and enquiries from three different continents, it quickly sold for over £10,000.

Because it was important to raise as much money as possible, I tried to make the price “attractive" to start off, but also to encourage "further offers". It was bit nerve wracking, but it seems to have worked, and I had the final, very pleasing bid just before the "shut off" time. The money is now with the charity chosen by the donor, and he is in touch with the successful buyer.

Every day since then, I've heard of another one or two people who have added their own donations to the same cause. All good, very good in fact.

The new owner, someone who's a regular newsletter reader, has quite a collection of UK made guitars, but of course I shall continue to tempt him.

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New Guitar for Antiono Forcione

Well, I'm saying it's "new", because we have only just finished it, but it's exactly the same as the first one we made for him maybe eight years ago. Antonio wanted a second guitar to keep abroad and help make his constant travelling a lot easier.

Alchemist style body, but with a long scale, African Blackwood back and sides, exceptional Sitka Spruce soundboard, laminated neck with "Twisty" heel.

It has a slightly smaller headstock than usual for easy access while playing, and the bass tuner is modified to get a much lower ratio (like me, Antonio doesn't like the modern fashion for high ratio tuners). I made a new tuner post with a larger diameter at the capstan end so he can change tuning, fast. It involved some very delicate machining and thread cutting and cannot now be assembled back into the tuner body until after the tuner is installed on the headstock, so any future repairers are going to be a bit baffled. Alex thought of a nifty dodge to remove and replace the backplate without damage while I did the engineering part.

The frets on the bass side have been ground down to minimise intonation problems when tuned very low, you can hear how it all works in the video below.

Antonio Forcione featuring Giuseppe Urso

It's a shame Antonio isn't facing the camera for most of this, but he does turn eventually, and you can see him retuning on the fly at about 3.50.

Antonio's website

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Will McNicol Tutorial.

Will was the one who put me in touch with Antonio in the first place, so it's appropriate to put the two items together. Will has a few spaces avaiable on his upcoming workshops: click here

Tenor Mandola for sale
  • Tenor Mandola For Sale
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This doesn't happen very often, a "spare" mandola. There is a fair amount of discussion about the proper names for such things and we call them "Tenor” to make sure it isn't confused with other instruments, so just to be clear: It's equivalent to the orchestral Viola tuned CGDA, one fifth below a Violin, with a scale length of 422mm - 16 5/8 inches Spruce top, Sapele back and sides. Ebony Fingerboard. We don't have cases for these, but I will do my best to advise.

For Sale at £1250 - SOLD

John Smith. Star Crossed Lovers

John's guitar part here is mesmeric. We can all recognise the simple chord sequence, but can you pick out the tiny variations within it? The rock-solid tempo and Lisa's harmony make it so special, along with subtle orchestration. Another Classic from Mr Smith.

John Smith. The Fray Variations

I'm finding it difficult to keep up with John's news at the moment, so it's probably best if you look at his website, which seems to change daily. I can tell you that his "Variations" EP is available now and that he is touring, so keep your diary clear. 

John's website

Tristan Seume

Now another bit of lovely music. Only a little bit, there is never enough from Tristan. Link to Video. I think he is demonstrating his new pedal set up, but I think it shows off the subtle fan frets rather nicely as well.

He has asked me to mention this: 1st European Fingerstyle Collective Festival 2022 There should be at least three Fylde players on the bill.

Tristan's site.

Octavius and Mark Knopfler

George Sansome spotted this (does he have eagle eyes or what?). Link to article

In case you can't see it, in amongst the many thousands of pounds worth of vintage gear, there is a lonely Fylde Octavius bouzouki. I mailed Richard Bennett about it and he told me the story. He leaves this bouzouki at the studio in London and keeps his Arch Top with him in Nashville. The Octavius was used in three or four tracks on Marks' latest album, I wonder if I'll be able to spot them? 

The recording was a first meeting up for the team since covid, but they still had massive safety measures in place, including having their own beer supply to avoid going out. Now there is a thought.

Richard will have his own album out soon. I will report back. 

David Delarre's new Bouzouki

I love little stories like this - it's a big part of why we do what we do.

David Delarre is a musician, composer and music educator. Through his work with the award-winning singer Eliza Carthy MBE and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, David has performed at a number of high-profile venues and festivals across the UK and Europe. He has recently recorded sessions for BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4 and has also performed on BBC 1 for Jools Holland and BBC 1 Breakfast TV.  His theatre credits include The Globe’s production of ’The Two Noble Kinsman’, ‘Bartholomew Fair’, Tony Award winning Broadway musical ‘Hadestown’ and the National Theatre’s ‘Hex’.

We are hoping to catch him at a London show one day.

He already plays a Fylde mandolin, and now he has a bouzouki:

“I fell in love. It’s ****** gorgeous!"

So, let me think, what Fylde instrument does he NOT have?  I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with G.

David's website.

Dave Holmes: Freewheeling

A really sweet tune written by David, played on his 40-year-old Olivia. He is now back in the orchestra pit for the TINA show at the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End. We are hoping to see the show again one day, it's well worth the effort.

I have another video that David has sent me, something rather unusual, but it will have to wait until the next newsletter.

Ben Robertson. Rosewood

Ben Robertson is a fingerstyle guitarist and singer from North Wales, and is releasing his new album “Rosewood” on the 22nd of April. Rosewood is a collection of fingerstyle guitar folk tunes and songs from across the British Isles and Europe, both traditional and contemporary. Ben has been playing fingerstyle guitar since a young age and has been influenced by the likes of John Renbourn, Duck Baker, Davy Graham, and other pioneering folk guitarists from that period. Over many years Ben has developed his own repertoire of guitar arrangements – Rosewood presents these pieces, along with several classic folk songs, and collaborations with fellow folk musicians Ellie Gowers and Phoebe Rees.

The album is available to pre-order on Bandcamp here

Ben's Website  

Billy Watman

Billy recorded & filmed this in his student digs in London during one of the 2021 lockdowns, it was an experimental piece really, covering an electronic dance track called “Bloodstream” - the original was a huge hit all over Europe for a Berlin based electronic duo called “Twocolors", the idea was to try to build the whole track in different layers, hence the percussion, melody, flamenco style rhythms etc. All on one Fylde guitar!

Billy's website

Sam Fender and his Mandolin

I've been hoping to find something like this. I can hear a mandolin in the mix of a lot of Sam's recordings, and I know he is heavily influenced by Billy Mitchell and Lindisfarne in general, in fact it was Billy who told him to buy the Fylde.  It's a Walnut Touchstone, and he plays right up at the dusty end. Let's hope we see it on stage soon.

Billy Mitchell and Bob Fox

So, a nice link with the above item - here is Billy, with his ancient Octavius mandolin, heard on lots of Lindisfarne and Sam Fender tracks. Bob is playing his equally ancient Falstaff. 

Bending Guitar Sides

I enjoy making videos, but I find it difficult to decide what to put in and very hard to get started. Also, it's not been easy during lockdown, so the first chance they got, Mike and Sam English drove up here with all the gear and made me eat chocolate and cake until I gave in.

I understand the value of these things in marketing terms, but I don't like the "Hype", or to be a bit blunt (What? Me?) the "misinformation" that is put about so often.

So - I do it my own way, I try to make them honest, "down to earth" with plenty of information, and a bit of fun.

If I had the time to plan them more, even rehearse a little bit, I'm sure I could do a better job, but I just start talking and see what happens, you'll have to forgive any slight mistakes. Sam manages to cut and nail them all together rather nicely. Maybe one day we'll shoot them all again, including the bits I should have said first time round.

I've tried to show the way things have developed over the last fifty years, and things that have stayed the same. Actually, it's over sixty years since I bent my first sides, which is a little frightening. I was nine. As for the rather random ending, this is what happens when you enjoy making things, and have been doing it for a long time. I apologise for the silliness; I still get a bit over excited.

Troy Donockley. One Million Hits!

Troy is mentioned in the side bending video, and the day after we filmed it, Troy told me about this. One million hits! It really must be his round next time I see him.

A selection of recent "releases". I can't keep up with them all.
Duck Baker

Deidre Galway and Conor Lamb

Elliott Morris

Lark in the morning on Bouzouki

And you've spent all your money on Whisky and Beer

Another instalment of my never ending (hopefully) acquisition of Single Malt Whisky, part of which seems to have evaporated. Isn't that decanter lovely? The beer was sent from Australia by my daughter Sophie. Thanks Sofe, and thanks everybody.

Dubliners. The Wild Rover

Our old friend Sean Cannon with his Orsino.

After the photo of the whisky and beer this video was inevitable wasn't it? I know it's a cliché, but it was a big part of my youth, at least I think it was.

Yesterday I was sent a file of photographs from a recent reunion of my university graduation year. I didn't attend, which was probably wise, as they all look really ancient.


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