May 2022 - Edition

  • Rio Ariel
  • Maria Laura Ronzoni 
  • Dave Holmes. Bach Cello suite No 1
  • Ben Walker
  • Siricote fan fret bouzouki
  • Tristan Seume and Fred
  • Two Mandolins for sale - SOLD
  • John Smith. Deserving at Fretboard Journal
  • Ben Ottewell
  • Eric Bibb
  • Hugh Burns. Cherry Red 
  • Gordon Giltrap and Kenny Everett
  • Gordon Giltrap and Will McNicol.  A meeting of minds and fingers
  • Will McNicol
  • Biréli Lagrène. Nature boy
  • Toby Hay
  • Heather Cartwright
  • Latest visitors
Rio Ariel

We made this some time ago, but other stories have pushed it back in the queue to get into the newsletter, and I can't leave it any longer!

The brief was to use the most exotic Brazilian Rosewood that I had.  That sort of instruction can be liberating but does add an extra responsibility. I have some very highly figured material, but some is so extreme that I'd be wary of its stability, and some players do question its " Musicality" as well. Fortunately, as I've said before, the Ariel is so small that I have a lot more wood to choose from, I can remove any suspect areas and small knots etc so I'm using the very best material even within the extreme colour and grain. This piece reminds me of a guitar I saw on a Segovia album sleeve many, many years ago.

The top is Yellow Cedar that came in a billet from Alaska amongst a parcel of Bracewood. It’s exceptionally fine grained and stiff, so again, the Ariel size works well, as I don't need to be scared of making it rather thinner than usual. That's a big factor in guitar making, and something where fifty or even sixty years of pushing the boundaries bit by bit counts for an awful lot.

Other details- Snakewood bindings because I'm in love with it at the moment. Paul doesn't love it as much as me, because I hand the bending over to him, I don't think my hands could deal with it now, that's the other side of the fifty years thing.   A rather pretty laminated neck, red inlay lines at all the borders and delicate Gotoh 510 tuners.

The owner is very pleased. 

  • Custom Ariel
  • 7G9A9189
  • 7G9A9197
  • 7G9A9193
  • 7G9A9199
  • 7G9A9191
  • 7G9A9198

Maria Laura Ronzoni

Doesn't Maria have a great left hand? I wish I had those fingers. When I first heard this, I didn't like the slightly harsh E chords, but now it just reminds me of the way Nina Simone played it on Piano and I love it.

How does Maria play that bass line and sing at the same time?

Dave Holmes. Bach Cello suite No 1

What a lovely thing to see and hear. Dave is a star and a bit of a Fylde collector. Ukulele? Bach? Plectrum? No problem to Dave.

Ben Walker

Once again - why does nobody tell me when they post videos? BEN!!!! I shall be having words. This tune seems to suit that guitar perfectly, such a great sound.

Ben's website

Siricote fan fret bouzouki
  • Siricote Fan Fret Bouzouki
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  • DSCF0779
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A custom bouzouki inspired by the very unusual instrument we built for Troy Donockley maybe ten years ago, but with different timbers and details.

This one is made largely from Siricote, and I wish I hadn't agreed to that, I had forgotten how allergic I am to this timber. Even though Paul did the bending and I did manage to keep away from most of the woodwork, it still “got me” and I haven't completely recovered, six months later. But doesn't it look nice? The Bearclaw Spruce and the fan frets were more customer requests, but ones that I quite like and don't hurt me. I do suffer for my art, I should be living in a garret, eating day old Baguettes and drinking Absinthe. What is Absinthe anyway? Is it like Laphroaig?

The bindings are Coconut, bordered by gold lines. The neck is two laminations of Mahogany, one of Walnut, and two ebony lines. The head veneer is Macassar Ebony, and the fingerboard is Ebony with oval pearl inlays to match the soundhole.

All rather splendid, I'll get more pictures when the custom-made case arrives.

Tristan Seume and Fred

This from Tris:

On May 8, I will be attempting the toughest physical challenge of my life: The legendary Fred Whitton Challenge is a gruelling 112-mile circuit of the Lake District, cycling over all its famous mountain passes, including gradients of over 30% and gaining a total elevation of more than 3,500 metres, in what I'm solemnly informed is the hardest one-day sportive in the land… But it’s all for a good cause. Two actually. I’m raising money for two charities:
MacMillan Cancer Support (one of the official charities of the event)
DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal (because, like you, I am horrified)

If you would like to support me through this madness, you can donate via my Just Giving team page here:

For a taste of the course, here I am wrenching myself up Hardknott Pass to the soundtrack of my version of Talk Talk’s classic hit, It’s My Life played on my rather special custom Fylde Goodfellow. Thank you, Tristan

Tristan - I think you are riding too fast and you are on the wrong side of the road. (Roger)

Two Mandolins for sale
  • Pre-owned Walnut Mandolin
  • Walnut Mandolin Front DSCF0795
  • Walnut Mandolin Back DSCF0804
Walnut Mandolin Front DSCF0795

A second-hand Walnut Touchstone mandolin, made in 2011 but in brand new condition, with case. New, this would cost £1580, I’m asking £1350 ... SOLD

  • Touchstone Mandolin
  • Touchstone Mandolin Front DSCF0811
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  • Touchstone Mandolin Back DSCF0819
Touchstone Mandolin Front DSCF0811

And a brand-new Standard Model Touchstone, with some very minor defects around the soundhole. I don't think you will notice. Usually, £990, for sale at £890 plus case ... SOLD

John Smith. Deserving at Fretboard Journal

We saw the last night of John's tour in Kendal, I think he's getting gentler but more powerful at the same time, he manages to put even his strongest songs across with seemingly no effort. After all the horrors of the pandemic, it's so good to see artists getting back on track . 
John's Website

Ben Ottewell

I love to hear Ben play his little Nylon strung guitar Uke, he uses it just like a big guitar and doesn’t hold back. John Smith tells me that Ben is looking for a full-size guitar. You know where I am Ben!
Ben's Facebook Page

Eric Bibb

Eric has a hobby! He is making instrument stands from recycled wood!
Eric's Website

Hugh Burns. Cherry Red

This is fun - Hugh sent me the basic video, which Mike English has rearranged rather nicely. There are several layers of guitar in there, but of course we can see only one. The guitar is the lovely Rio Ariel that Hugh bought at Ullapool some years ago.
Hugh Burns and Danny Schogger had always wanted to work on a Latin project together, Danny suggested bringing Pete Ibsen into the mix, and when Pete played them tracks of a French girl singer he’d been working with, they knew that was the voice they were trying to find, so here is the beginning of  "Cherry Red" a fusion project of four different musical backgrounds, put together in France.

Danny Schogger. Royal Academy of Music graduate, performer, producer & songwriter/composer with credits including Celine Dion, Banarama and Worlds Apart.

Hugh Burns. World renowned guitarist has worked with an unprecedented list of recording artists include Pascal Obispo, Patricia Kass, George Michael and Gerry Rafferty. 

Peter "Neros”Ibsen. Roc Nation record-producer, songwriter and composer.  Credits include Duffy, Sugarbabes, James Blunt, L5 and N-Dubz.
"Bee-Bop". A young classically trained singer from France. 
I shall be following their progress from across the channel.

Gordon Giltrap and Kenny Everett

Yes, you did read that correctly. Who'd have thought?  

I have featured several videos of Heartsong before, but I didn't know about this clip with Kenny. I showed it to Alex, who had only a dim memory of Kenny, and to Paul, who had never heard of him.  What a shame. Of course, “it's all in the best possible taste”, Alex and Paul, and other youngsters, you might want to Google that. It’s a splendid video, Gordon is on form and looks incredibly happy, and what about the  drummer!!  Watch it right to the end please.

Gordons website

Gordon Giltrap and Will McNicol. A meeting of minds and fingers

From Will: I’m not sure how one describes spending time with someone who’s done what Gordon has done in terms of the acoustic guitar scene. Sublime? Inspirational? All of that and more really. I’m exceptionally grateful.

From Gordon: It was great, Will is a bit special isn't he?.

From us: You are both special.

Will McNicol

"The new London College of Music Classical Guitar Syllabus is being released in the next few days, a couple of my pieces feature in them, recorded on the Fylde Classic." 
Will's website

Biréli Lagrène. Nature boy

Something else from across the channel. I can never tire of hearing a master musician play one of "my guitars", It's like getting a big pat on the back, and it's a just reward for how much effort we all put in to our work. 

Toby Hay

Toby will be starting an album of six string guitar music soon!!
Toby's Website

Heather Cartwright

Heather is from our local area and is one of Will McNicol’s pupils.
This is another demonstration of playing a complicated piece and singing at the same time. Keep it up Heather.
Heather's Facebook Page

A New Belt sander.

Here is a new belt sander that I've just about finished. It has an extra-long, ground flat bed for sanding fingerboards exactly straight. It has clever new belt tensioners, and VFD Inverter control for the belt speed. Most guitar makers have belt sanders, they are one of our most useful tools, but as with any tool, using them still requires skill. When I was at technical school, the woodwork and engineering shops were a big part of my life. I was always taught to do the job by hand, then once I had the skills, the teachers all said the same thing. "Ok, it's obvious you can do this, don’t damage your hands and waste your time doing it that way anymore". I wish I'd taken more notice of them.

Latest visitors

A few weeks ago, we left a door open and a day later discovered that we had a non-paying guest. This little red squirrel really did not want to leave, I left a window open, and a trail of nuts leading towards it, but no, he preferred the comfort of our spare room curtain pole. Then I did my Bald Eagle impression, that moved him.

And the seagull tried very hard to join us on our holidays. He knocked on our bedroom window every morning at about 6 am. Mostly he used the V for victory signal - di di di dah, but one morning he hammered out a very passable "shave and a haircut, two bits". All true.

We seem to attract various wild animals. It's probably because I think Moira is a bit wild and Moira thinks I'm a bit of an animal.

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