A rather splendid instrument available for sale. This guitar should not be here, it was a custom order, but a certain amount of confusion was involved when we started it and I chose the wrong species of wood. My fault entirely, blame stress. It looked so splendid that we carried on and finished it anyway.
Figured Amazaque back and sides- sometimes known as Ovangkol, the colour and grain vary enormously from one set to another, but I think this was a particularly glorious mistake. The top is Western Red Cedar. Mahogany neck, Ebony bridge and fingerboard, and Alex suggested that we use notched square pearl inlays to make it extra special. A lovely lovely thing.
Pre-sales are going nicely, I think the timing of this project has worked out very well, maybe all the delays have been for a reason. Over the past few weeks I've noticed a lot of public figures speaking about their struggles with mental health, and while I've been working on this project, a lot of musicians have told me how these particular charities have helped them get past lean times.
Plus, I am sure that The Woodland Trust will make everybody's lives a little more pleasant.
Not long now before I have the actual album in my hands, I can't wait.
Please help me make this work. Pre-order the Album here.
I mentioned recently that we have quite a few customers amongst the actors and house band of the fabulous Tina Turner musical in London. Here is proof: filmed between shows on stage at the Aldwych theatre in London. The video starts off slow, so give it time.
Five new rather special guitars being made for test and sale.
Do your remember "The guitar experiment", completed a few months ago? The final results were published by The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
The analysis was downloaded more times than any other paper in the whole of 2018, and "our" paper was only published in the middle of December!
My own comments on the results are due to published separately in "American Lutherie", later in 2019. I’ve included my thoughts on how the guitars and tests could be improved and some comments on how the results could be interpreted.
I'm not in a position to conduct the same extensive tests as the Universities, but I do want to examine the question from a slightly different direction, so we have started to make five new guitars, which I hope to keep long enough to be played a lot and tested before being offered for sale. I have high hopes of these guitars, they certainly look splendid, Paul managed to avoid too much swearing while he was fitting all the different bindings.
They all follow the principle of the lovely guitar that we showed at Ullapool in 2018, with an Alchemist body, a 12-fret neck, and a long scale length. I'm not sure yet how i will conduct any tests. Watch this space.
The picture above was taken before lacquer was applied. The picture below is after the first sealer coat, always an amazing transformation.
More in the never-ending saga of newsletter deliverability.
You will have noticed that this newsletter is different. I have decided to host it "online" as an experiment.
If your email address is .me .mac or icloud, etc, then it’s probable that you have not received all the newsletters recently, and you would not have received this one if we had carried on sending them in the usual way.
The reasons are complicated, I had started to write an explanation of the problem, intending to send a newsletter to everyone who was not receiving the newsletter. Now, you might have spotted the fault in that logic, if not, perhaps read it again, it took me a while. George Orwell would have loved the internet.
This time, you have needed to click on the very basic email newsletter in order to arrive at these pages with all this wonderful content.
It might be slightly annoying, but I am hoping that those that do enjoy these things will understand. If this works, I should be able to avoid all the problems of slightly damaged links, non-acceptable words and unhelpful rules on punctuation. I can include more photographs and/or more words and even say golly gosh occasionally. Words like "beautiful" or "click here" will no longer get caught in spam traps and I can have more exciting layout (if Mike English works his wonders as usual).
It might take a little while and a "bit" more effort to get all the difficulties sorted out, but I think it will be worth it.
In the meantime, all I can suggest is that everybody research the spam filters on their particular provider, not just to the level of your spam box, but much deeper and further down the line, and that you try and warn friends who might be using the harsher providers. Failing that, generally I try to send a newsletter every month, so if you check the website regularly, you can view the newsletter that way.
It's been a long time since Megan posted a solo video. Some great shots here, a typical clever and lovely song from Megan and a splendid location. The beach hut idea is part of a bigger project.
Beach huts are wonderful things, I don't think there are many left. A lot of my early family holidays involved sitting in one of these, in the pouring rain, playing happy families. I'm also reminded of long train journeys, scary B&Bs, melted ice-cream, huge beach towels, methylated spirit camping stoves, sandwiches, fish and chips, sunburn and sand everywhere. Everywhere.
Will sent me this picture of the two of them playing for a dance project they are involved with.
Will is playing his Custom Alexander - and talks about the acoustics of the Cathedral:
"Never heard anything so ridiculously enormous in all my life. The natural reverb was simply incredible".
I hope to be able to show you better pictures and the video very soon. Moira can't wait, she has some new dancing shoes ready to go.
Did I tell you that Will and Luke wrote and recorded a track on the "Nimble Leap" album especially for Moira and me to dance to? It's true, it's called "Danca da Cozinha" - "Dancing in the Kitchen". Luke was rather rude about my dancing in the notes, I will be having words.
Will and Luke's website
I've been asked to help with this. After the death of the original owner these two Fyldes are for sale.
An Orsino, made in 2010, and an Octavious Bouzouki, made in 2002, both in excellent condition. They are currently in Chichester and could be taken to the Whitby Folk week in August.
Both left handed.
If you have an interest, tell me and I will put you in touch directly.
A recording of Vin’s last ever concert in Australia in 2016. For sale in aid of the Troubadour Foundation.
The album is very well recorded and produced, we couldn't ask for a better memory of Vin's humour, singing, and audience communication. I've heard all the songs before, but that's fine, I can now hear them all again. Having a live recording of Vin's more recent “patter" means that I can rewind it as much as I like until I actually understand the joke, and I'm lucky, Ive been properly trained in "Garbish".
This album will make you laugh and cry. It's amazing what you can make out of the word "theodolite"
Available from here.
John's time has certainly come, he doesn't stop touring at the moment, and I’m getting comments and questions about his guitars wherever he goes.
This one is his Custom Alexander, which I have to fit an extra pickup into next week, John is planning to get it to me on Thursday 23rd and he wants it back on Wednesday 22nd. I'm serious, this job is getting very intense. John's website
I featured this guitar a few years ago when it was first made, it belonged to Mike English, who no longer has room for his various collections of various things.
Very similar to John Smith’s guitar shown above. The back and Sides are African Blackwood, fine, hard and resonant, often used for clarinets and bagpipes, and now becoming very popular among professional players. It has curly Koa bindings, bordered by blue lines, a figured Mahogany neck, laminated with blue lines, and a master Grade Englemann Spruce soundboard with beautiful grain and Silking.
This is one of my favourite guitars, the top is rather more arched than usual, giving it a very "firm" "round" tone, which I think many players would describe as "focussed". I would describe it as "pure", and with huge headroom if you feel the need to play hard. 44.5mm Ebony fingerboard with Pearl snowflake inlays.
Fitted Headway Pickup
A real Gem, used but excellent condition. SOLD
Much of this video is based around John's old Ralph Bown guitar, including descriptions of some of the things that have happened to it over the years. I'm always looking and listening to the best players, and the sound they pull from their own guitars.
I particularly like Clive's description of shaping his false nails, and the effect it has on his tone.
Even with the best guitars, the player is still the biggest part of the equation. Sorry, algorithm. Silly me.
At work, I often talk to customers about how they play. The way the right hand "presents" to the string is the starting point, and the "pull and release" of the nail, pick or finger is what determines the start of each note. The angle, shape, hardness, and smoothness of the pick etc, are all important.
Clive is a star and has been very supportive of Nimble Leap. Clive's site
Moira and I do like to go "fossicking". This time it was at Runswick Bay. I found this lovely rock, such a pity it was too big to go in Moira's handbag. I have a vague knowledge of such things, but if someone could explain all the little features, I'd love to know more about it.
And then we got cut off by the incoming tide and had to rescue a stream of old ladies and small children. I have pictures to prove it.
No, not an Edward Lear poem, it's a lovely pub right on the edge of the harbour at Staithes. it was the favourite pub of a famous rock star some years ago, and if it wasn't so busy, it might be mine now. The menu is amazing, I hope I'm not offending my vegetarian readers.
This is the view across the harbour when you sit outside the pub, just a few yards from where Captain James Cook did his seamanship training. The bear is made of Wicker and is a left over from last years’ arts festival. I couldn't work out the significance of the Polar Bear until I read the story of Cook's final voyage, it's worth reading yourself. Here is a link.
We had a lot of fun at Staithes, and made friends with the lifeboat crew, so they invited us to a practice night. The tractor that launches the inshore lifeboat is massive, with four-wheel drive and articulated between the two axles. It is also submersible, although the engine has to be shut off first. One more thing-it's all made in the UK.
We also helped at the RNLI auction, by trying to push the prices up a bit. Moira kept nudging me, go on, go on.
There are risks attached to this behaviour. Anybody want to buy three awful paintings, and two handbags?