August 2021

  • Personal Selection Brazilian Rosewood Falstaff for sale
  • Ken Nicol. A Waltz with Alice
  • Stamp of Approval. Lisa Hannigan acknowledged.
  • Falstaff for sale.
  • Gareth Evans
  • Chris Herring. Kingfisher
  • Henry Olsen. Dock Street
  • Surprise surprise: The disappearing hole.
  • Roy Harper
  • Chris Difford's guitar on holiday.
  • Arlen Roth
  • John James
  • Andy Irvine
  • Jack Haigh. Childish Gambino
  • Fans of Fylde on facebook
  • Remi Harris
  • Crimes against Nature
  • Cittern and pipes
  • News from the Conservatory
Personal Selection Brazilian Rosewood Falstaff for sale

The standard Falstaff is our most popular model amongst professional players, and with this guitar we have pushed the materials and details as far as we can without making the guitar "flashy". It was built to be the centre piece of our display at this year’s Ullapool Guitar Festival, to attract attention and demonstrate the materials and skills we have available. But this year's festival has been cancelled. So, the guitar is for sale.

The back and sides are Brazilian Rosewood, of the highest quality I have ever seen. It's perfectly quarter sawn, very dense, almost black in places, with areas of "landscape" grain pattern showing through, and the wood "rings" like Big Ben when tapped. It's also worth noting that the original pieces were huge, cut from a large log that was sold to me by a retired cabinet maker. We know what is required to obtain proper documentation from the CITES authorities, so everything is proper and legal, and the guitar will have its "papers".

As usual with dark woods, it's hard to photograph, so I've asked Mike English to show the back in some slightly "enhanced" pictures, but in real life, it really does look like this. I don’t know of any other maker who has access to such unique material.

The soundboard is Master Grade Alpine spruce, with Bearclaw figuring, the stiffest European Spruce and whitest wood we have ever used, it’s not the typical "exhibition" grain pattern, it is certainly beautiful, but selected purely for its tonal qualities.

The bindings are Snakewood, framed by delicate red and black lines against the dark Rosewood. I don't know of a better way to show off these spectacular materials.

The neck is three sections of the finest, quarter sawn, very old Mahogany, again with delicate red and black lines. The headstock is veneered with Snakewood and fitted with Gold Gotoh 510 tuners. The 45mm Ebony fingerboard has Abalone diamond inlays.

I think the best word to use is "glorious", in sound and appearance. You can see the pictures here, and I can demonstrate the sound in Ken Nicol's video - see below.

For sale at £8,900 - SOLD

  • Personal Selection Brazilian Rosewood Falstaff for sale
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Ken Nicol. A Waltz with Alice

"A tribute to Ken's Mother Alice who loved to dance and passed away in 2012. The tuning for the piece is Open C"    

I know Ken is planning to post some new videos soon, so I asked him to practice on the new Personal Selection Falstaff described above, that way I can give him some well-deserved publicity, and show people what this very special guitar sounds like. This is a slowish tune which Ken has recorded before, but I thought it showed off the guitar’s velvety tones rather well. I have another video of Ken playing a faster piece, which shows off the "sparkly" end of the tone range. I'll feature the new video in the next newsletter. 

Ken describes the guitar: "I loved the guitar from the very moment it arrived, and I unboxed it - pleasing to the eye, extremely comfortable to the touch, an absolute joy to play … and what a sound it produced.”

I like that word - "sparkly". I think I'll use that again 

Ken's website

Stamp of Approval. Lisa Hannigan acknowledged.

At last! A Fylde Guitar on a postage stamp! About time too, thanks Lisa, well deserved.

Irish singer-songwriters Christy Moore, Hozier, Lisa Hannigan and Sinead O’Connor are celebrated on a new set of Irish stamps released by An Post. A donation will be made for every stamp booklet sold to the Irish Music Industry Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, created to assist Irish music creators experiencing financial need. The colourful large format stamps are available in a booklet of four national stamps (€4.40), at anpost.

I'm rather pleased with this, I won't ever get my face on a bank note - but how about a Fylde guitar on a Gold Coin?

The 2019 Gold 50p has Peter Rabbit. Chinese Gold coins have a Panda on them. How about a Gold Doubloon with a Fylde guitar on it, that would be good. It would be double good!

Who do I need to make friends with? Does anybody at the Royal Mint play guitar?

Lisa's website

John Smith. The best of me

John does like a low tuning, it's asking a lot of a guitar to be accurate with such low string tensions, and over the years we've tweaked and experimented a lot to accommodate different artist's needs, music is always changing and I don't think guitars will ever become a fixed design.

I noticed one lovely comment on the video- I hope it's ok to quote it: "This guitar makes our soul vibrate deeply"

Ours as well

John's website

Falstaff for sale.

This isn't exotic like the guitar played by Ken, but it is very very nice. I'm not allowed to tell you who it belongs to, but once it is sold that might change. The owner is not a professional guitarist, but he is a music professional, and I think he had certain dreams, but arthritis etc has got in his way. 

It's been played, but I can't see any dents or scratches. It's been well looked after since it was made in 2006. In fact, it's spent the last few years in its case, which probably explains the golden tint of the soundboard.

Fitted with a Baggs Element Pickup, and it comes with its custom-made fibre glass Carlton Case, the choice of just about every travelling musician you will ever meet.
I can offer the guitar in two ways. First, the guitar, and its Carlton Case at £4,300 ono. New, this would all be about £5,500. SOLD

Or, the guitar, in a brand new Hiscox ProGad case instead of the Calton at £3,600 ono. THE GUITAR IS SOLD

And if the guitar sells without the Calton case, I can offer the case, by itself for £800. It’s unmarked, and you won't have to wait six months for a new one to be made, sent from the USA, and costing a lot more. THE CASE IS SOLD

  • Falstaff for sale
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Gareth Evans

This isn't the same guitar as the one for sale above, but it's the same model and materials. If you can play like Gareth- buy the guitar and you can sound like this!

Gareth will help you as well, he works extremely hard and makes his living by producing quality videos and instruction, he will supply the tab and helpful notes- just visit his site.

Goliath Tutorials

Henry Olsen. Dock Street

You may know Henry from his Primal Scream days. After many years of making music and composing for film he has now created his first album – a limited edition Vinyl with a download included.

"Dock Street is in Sunderland. It used to be the site of Dock Street Methodist Church. It is where my mother and father first met and where they were married …"

It has been a massive project, with Mike English contributing large amounts of time and expertise in graphics and production, while Sam English's video work takes the project from an "album" to an "experience" 

It isn't a guitar players album, it's a musician’s album. The website section "The making of the album" tells the whole story which I found fascinating and illuminating, and - there are two very unusual Fylde guitars in the mix, you can see snatches of them at various points. 

And Henry's website

This is Henry talking about the Album and his instruments

Surprise surprise: The disappearing hole.

It happens, and it's very annoying. A lovely piece of expensive wood can often have hidden, expensive surprises. 

When I began shaping the mahogany with a drawknife, it looked perfect, but as I cut deeper, a faint line became darker, and one more shaving exposed a tiny hole. Another shaving and it became a bigger hole. Oh dear. All that work! Actually, those are not the words I used.

If we were making larger numbers the process up to this point would be done by machine before we glued on the fingerboard and head veneer, so all that time work and materials would not be at risk, just one more piece of scrap wood. But when we work the way we do, lots of things are different. There are many reasons for the choices and order of work in manufacture, it can be fascinating, and I can tell you all sorts of stories about why things are the way they are. All the arrangements here have developed over fifty years, they have changed many times depending on available materials, muscle power, skills and equipment, no doubt many will change again.

Anyway, all was not lost - when this happens all too often the flaw gets bigger and it all has to be scrapped, but with the very next shaving, the hole got a little smaller, and by the time I had reached the intended shape, it had disappeared. More new words were used. I might tell the new owner; he likes a good story.

  • The disappearing hole
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Roy Harper

We shipped this guitar to Roy almost two months ago, but I didn't want to say much until I knew it had arrived safely and he'd had time to play it. Well it arrived safely, and Roy has been playing it ever since. "It's Excellent". All good.

Roy had a Falstaff for many years, so we used that as a basis for lots and lots of discussion. There are differences - a 12 fret neck join, Bog Oak back and sides, a Sinker Redwood soundboard and Tulipwood bindings. The headstock shape and tuner positions are slightly reworked so that Roy can play chords from "above" the nut.

To regain fret access from the short neck we've included a small bevel instead of a cutaway, and because he asked me to, a little bit of Abalone shell inlay round the soundhole. 

The final "detail" - Roy's signature inlaid in silver wire. We did discuss leaving the frets out altogether at this position, but the wire is very fine, and I felt the frets would help hold the inlay in place! Parts of the inlay required five attempts, I sometimes think I lack patience, then I do something quite daft like this just to prove myself wrong. By now I should have learnt the amount of effort these things require. Well I did learn, then I forgot, so I had to learn again, many times.

Roy is busy writing and recording as the music world opens up, let's hope we hear some new music soon. 

Roy's website

  • Roy Harper's Guitar
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Chris Difford's guitar on holiday.

Every time we make a guitar for Chris, we get a good story. He took delivery of this nearly two years ago and took it on tour in the USA last year, but the tour was quickly cancelled due to Covid, and the guitar was stranded, all alone, in New York.

Eventually we helped with complicated paperwork to get it shipped back, but there were more difficulties and the guitar is currently having a holiday. It seems to have picked up an American accent, and probably a bit of an attitude as well "I was played at Madison Square Gardens you know, and my cousin is on a postage stamp in Ireland, and my Uncle is "Postman Pat", did I tell you about my brother …" 

Apologies to those who don't know what that was all about. I don’t know who  "andystrings" is by the way, perhaps someone can tell me?

Chris' Website

Arlen Roth

Here we have Arlen very shortly after taking delivery of the guitar we showed last month. I have another video of him playing it a few days later, when he had become a lot more "comfortable" with his new guitar. I'll save that for next month, you'll see what I mean - it's fun! In the meantime, I'm so pleased that Arlen has taken to the guitar so well, he hopes to visit and play in the UK as soon as it's safe again and we'll make a point of meeting up.

Arlen's website

John James

Another video that I came across in my regular trawl through YouTube. It would be a lot easier if everyone told me when they have a new video out. This one is unusual - an acoustic tune, played on electric guitar. John sneakily fits a capo before he starts playing, and I imagine the electric guitar action helps a little as well because the tune is obviously not at all easy to play.

He has usually gone for "heavier" actions so that he can "dig in". I'd love to see him play this on one of his Fyldes.

John is one of the few survivors to have known Davy Graham in his earlier years, and the story told here rings very true.

John's website

Andy Irvine

The Octavius that we have made for Andy and showed last month prompted a reader to send me this, a new video but from 1986. Even Andy hadn't seen it until I told him.

Link to the video

Andy's website

Jack Haigh. Childish Gambino

Jack visited us recently to have his guitar serviced, and there are new videos now, but I haven't used all the earlier ones yet so the new ones will have to wait. Jack uses a two-part Di Marzio "Black Angel" pickup which I hadn't come across before, and it's rather good. Acoustic guitar amplification isn't standing still and magnetic soundhole pickups are gaining more fans. Nobody thought they would work on acoustic guitars, but they do, and it's good to see they are still developing.

Jack's website

Fans of Fylde on Facebook

To be honest, I don't understand Facebook, I recognise that many other people use it as their main means of communication, and I do like to look on "marketplace" but whenever I try to use Facebook myself, I manage to send messages to all my children’s friends by accident, or press the wrong key and send half a message. before I've finished typing ... I'll stick to pigeons and smoke signals thank you.  Email does work though

But for those of you with a digital brain, there is now a "Fans of Fylde" Facebook page          

Remi Harris

Just a tiny little bit from Remi - he's rationing himself at the moment. Remi's website

Crimes against Nature

I try to keep up with any news on endangered species, not just rare timber, but also Ivory and live animals, because the problems and possible solutions are all connected at many levels. I found this article particularly interesting, although I had to get my dictionary out a few times. Forgive me if this is a little patronising.

Carceral - relating to or suggestion of, jail or prison

Fungible - easily exchanged for something of a similar value.

On a slightly different note, for some years I've been making the point that rare woods will disappear, not because guitar makers (or others) will cut all the trees down, but because the trees will burn or die before we ever get the chance. I've been re reading "Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas. He makes the point that if Global warming goes much further, it won't be just forest fires in Greece, Australia, Siberia and California. The Amazon Rain forest itself will catch fire and it will impossible to stop. It will all become smoke. That thought is unbearable for all sorts of reasons. We can't make guitars out of smoke, but at that point, I think we will have other things to worry about and even guitar playing won't help.

Cittern and pipes

That story above is very depressing, so now let's have something more fun. I love Uilleann pipes, something about the slight wildness and freedom in the playing. Plus - a Fylde cittern. I made this connection through a friend at Dusty Strings in Seattle, I don't know much about the musicians

Dusty Strings Website

News from the Conservatory

There has been a massive advance in my project. I have managed to fit glass to some of the windows so now I can see out of them.  Can you imagine how much extra light there will be when I have glass in all of the windows?  Very soon I hope to fit a door so that at long last I'll be able to go in and out, it's been very hard not having a door, I've had to carry all the wood through the window … Nurse!

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