Please note: due to changes in regulations and constant design developments, we sometimes need to change details such as binding and inlay materials.
Richard is the wonderful chap who organises the Ullapool Guitar Festival; he saw the Rio Rosewood Falstaff that we had for sale a couple of years ago and his fingers started twitching. Result - a Baritone "Leonardo" made from the very finest of timbers. The Brazilian Rosewood is from a recent discovery of very very old, exceptional wood, with gentle but beautiful colours and grain. The top is Bearclaw Italian Spruce, with red purflings, the bindings are Snakewood with red borders. The neck is laminated from Mahogany with red and black veneer inserts, and an Ebony fingerboard with Abalone diamond inlays. It has a 27-inch scale length and a 45 mm fingerboard - there, how's that for mixing up Imperial and metric?
The important thing about a Baritone guitar is of course, the tuning, in this case, B - B. With that set in stone, decisions need to be made about size and shape. A large soundboard deals with the amount of air that needs to be moved at low frequencies. A deep body would add a lower resonance but also make it much more uncomfortable to play. Richard and I did discuss a possible bevel, but I was reluctant to stiffen any of the edges and reduce the soundboard area, and it does play like a dream.
It sounds - well, terrific, glorious even. From top to bottom, it's "solid", every note is full and sweet. We are all extremely pleased. Richard hasn't seen it yet and I can't wait to hear what he says. It will be on display (but not for sale) at Ullapool in October.
Will has kept himself very busy over lockdown. Those musicians that can "write" have an advantage in difficult times, as they can be "working" whatever hours they wish. Anything online has also been a massive plus, all helping to maintain an income while recording was difficult and performing was impossible.
We've heard this piece before, but not arranged like this for Classical Guitar syllabus. Will's tone and touch on the strings are as much to be admired as his composition.
I get a lot of videos sent to me, and I spend a lot of time digging for others. I don't really have any rules for what goes into the newsletter and what doesn't, I just try to cover a bit of everything. I'm really keen to include younger players who need a bit of help, and of course, I'm quite proud (actually, very proud indeed) that I have high level examples like Biréli that pop up regularly - we all need "pats on the back".
Biréli has a different tone this time, I don't know what pedals he is using, but I do know the pickup is a Baggs Anthem Stage Pro.
Two years without an Ullapool - how did we survive?
Most of the usual culprits will be in attendance this year, plus the usual ration of international guitar superstars. I also heard that in Ullapool there are vacancies for a head distiller and a distiller's assistant, so I'm surprised I'm still here.
The silly wizard himself, Troy Donockley, with the amazing Floor Janssen, playing an acoustic duo while the rest of the band are off stage getting refills. Or something. Troy tells me he has a new magic trick to show me, but the band is on a sixteen-month tour so there might be some delay. Troy playing with Nightwish gets Fylde seen by bigger audiences than any other show - we are talking millions of viewers, so I suppose it's a good job they don't all email me.
This is the guitar I made for Gordon Giltrap in the late 1970's. It has been "worked on" by other people in the intervening years, then sold on by Gordon and properly rebuilt by us just a few years ago.
Here is Ken, enjoying the guitar while staying with its new owner, and demonstrating his own take on an old standard.
It's lovely to see such a special guitar getting new life and passing through so many gifted hands.
We've been trying to get a few special guitars made to show at Ullapool, but I need instruments to sell as well, it's part of why people read the newsletter, and of course, there are bills to pay. So here is a guitar that shouldn't be here, but it is, it's somebodies’ lucky day.
The body is 5,000-year-old Bog Oak, with the usual grain patterns, density, stiffness etc of that splendid timber, but with more brown colour than solid black. It's lovely to look at, but as usual the camera can't capture everything in such dark wood, in reality it's a lot darker than the photographs can show.
The top is very high quality Englemann Spruce, with red details in the purfling. "Ebony" bindings with red borders. the neck is English Walnut with an Ebony central section, 46mm Ebony fingerboard with Pearl diamond markers.
It's a gentle attempt to make an expensive guitar without being terribly expensive.
For sale at £5,900 which is probably rather less than it should be. SOLD
One of our favourite American friends travelled over with her mandolin for the Jubilee. No prizes for knowing where this view is.
I never make political comment in this newsletter but I just couldn’t resist putting this picture in. I'm sure lots of you will be thinking of your own captions.
From Jack; “I spent the day in London performing on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street for the Spring Showcase - an event to show the importance of small businesses in Britain. This was also the first time that musicians have been allowed to perform directly outside the infamous black door". Jack is an excellent player; I hope to feature his music as soon as I can fit it in..
Antonio now has two almost identical guitars. We featured the latest one in March, but Antonio has only recently been able to collect it, we managed to get a photograph where I have been photoshopped to look really ancient.
Bob is a massive acoustic guitar fan from Illinois. He introduced me to Jim Olsen and Jim and I have been swapping photographs of projects and tools ever since.
Bob's guitar is a custom Falstaff, made from all the very best things that trees provide. He has promised to send me videos of him playing in various different rooms of his amazing house:
That might be a lot of videos- You'll see that the house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, whose name even made it into a Simon and Garfunkel song!
It's been a while since I mentioned this. Three years of proceeds have so far been paid to the charities since we started. We've had some lovely letters back and lots of good work is being done.
And it's still available! I know CDs are out of fashion, but you don't get a 128-page book with a download. Even though I say so myself, it really is a wonderful collection of guitar music, by some of the best players ever. Most of it was specially recorded for the project, you won't find it anywhere else.
Gerry has toured the world as a solo artist and with the Sharon Shannon Band, Patrick Street, Midnight Well, Andy M. Stewart, Kevin Burke, Andy Irvine, and the Waterboys. He has performed at the White House, opened for the Grateful Dead, played electric guitar with Marianne Faithfull and thought nothing of playing with a Romanian orchestra and choir in a cemetery in Transylvania at night.
I don't think I will try and add anything to that!
How could I resist? There is always a lot of interest in Nic's Music. and it's massively important to me.
I'm pretty sure this recording will be with his Orsino.
John's Custom Falstaff (his second Falstaff) was nearly lost in transit during a gap in lockdown and had to wait in Ireland until John could get back there. I don't know about John, but I found it all extremely stressful.
Some of you will know that we live "off grid” on the banks of a small river, and near to several streams running down from the high fells of Cumbria. We have solar panels and a diesel generator, and I have been investigating a hydroelectric turbine for at least twenty years. I recently managed to make a little progress with the design and planning, then, in April this year, the environment agency increased the application fees from £135 to £6,000.00 plus, there are now serious fees for water source heat pumps.
In short, it seems that some of the larger schemes have caused problems, and the Agency wants to cover itself by spreading the costs amongst the smallest and simplest schemes. Schemes such as ours which would have zero impact and cost the Agency almost nothing will now be impossible.
There is a petition which needs all the help it can get.
Obviously, this isn't of concern to many people, and it's not going to be easy to attract enough attention to get past the first hurdle of 10,000 signatures but this newsletter goes to 5,000 highly intelligent, good looking, concerned individuals, (yes it does, it's true) and if each of you signed it, and persuaded a few of your friends to sign as well, perhaps we could make a difference, not just for me and Moira but to common sense throughout the UK.
The petition is here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/615664
I have various documents, but the simplest perhaps is this:https://theenergyst.com/hydro-schemes-dampened-by-outrageous-and-illogical-fee-rises-say-campaigners/
I have to tell you this, because you'll probably see it anyway.
Chris Turpin was interviewed in Guitarist Magazine and described me as “crazy, wonderful Gandalf-like genius.” Oh dear. Parts of that is sort of OK, not sure about the rest, but I will embrace it, what else can I do? Of course, my very good friend Mike English has had some fun with photoshop.
Anyway, making the best of it, let's have a look at some of Gandalf's wisdom.
I like this one:
“I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to.”
and this one:
“Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
But this is my favourite, it sort of suits my mood at the moment;
"With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. ‘Fly, you fools!’ he cried, and was gone".
And as I have said a few times before:
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