October 2021

  • Custom Alchemist for sale
  • Gordon Giltrap playing his baby Fylde
  • Janschology
  • Bill Bailey
  • ORLEANS and Martin Simpson
  • Simpson Cutting Kerr. Dark Swift and Bright Swallow
  • A Nice Buzz
  • Tristan Seume EP. Hand Picked from the Eighties
  • Adam Palma. Rheged
  • Antonio Forcione. African Dawn
  • Megan Henwood. The last Mountain
  • Whisky and Wood
  • Elliott Morris
  • Damien O'Kane
  • Toby Hay. O'Carolans Dream
  • Ewan Macdonald. Mominette
  • Guitar for Howard Lees
  • AURI Pearl Diving.
  • Chris Jordan. Back to The Well
  • John Smith drops in
  • The No Train Blues
Custom Alchemist for sale

This lovely guitar started as a custom order for an existing client, but it developed its own personality as it "grew" on the bench. Consequently, we have started another guitar for the very patient and understanding customer and allowed this one to follow its natural inclinations. 

The back and sides are African Blackwood from material that Stefan Sobel and I bought together many years ago and the neck has a broad central section of Ebony to continue that dark character through the full length of the instrument. As soon as we put the Sinker Redwood soundboard onto the sides, it seemed to be begging for "colour" to be added, hence the Tulipwood bindings and red border lines, also continuing though the neck.  Apart from its appearance, it really is an extraordinary guitar. 

The first thing you might notice on picking it up is its weight, 2.29 kgs, compared to a standard Falstaff at around 1.99 kgs. It isn't a big guitar; the weight is entirely due to the density of the timbers used. The Blackwood is worked far thinner than we would work Rosewood for instance, stopping short of where I would become uncomfortable with it's stability and tone. The Ebony in the neck was mostly removed when we cut the channel for the truss rod, so that isn't a major factor, but it does help to balance the body anyway. Don't misunderstand me, the guitar isn't "overweight”, it just feels so reassuringly "solid". It's a "confident" guitar. 

The sound? You know that I deplore the hyperbole that abounds on most guitar sites, too many of the words mean just about nothing, and are even deceptive, so it's hard. I'll try.

I knew from the stiffness of the timbers that the guitar would have a strong treble, and the higher density is a stabiliser, so the tone is pure and clean with no random overtones that come from a guitar built too lightly.  For the same reasons, the Bass doesn't "boom", but it is strong and loud, and again "clean". I sometimes use the word "dry" to describe a particular tone that I feel is lacking. This isn't dry, in fact I'm tempted to say it's almost "moist", in the nicest possible way.    
I want to hear this guitar on stage in front of an audience, I think it has "everything" and should amplify amazingly well.

It's a short scale- 629 mm. and very comfortable to play, the neck is 44.7mm wide, just perfect for fingerpickers.  Fitted with Gold 510 tuners which I personally find too "slow" but everyone else loves them. Abalone diamond inlays for a little bling, not a lot--.

For sale £7950 - SOLD

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Gordon Giltrap playing his baby Fylde

Good things come to him who waits. We made this guitar right at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and obviously any intentions or any plans to make recordings and videos disappeared. But at long last it has happened.

Gordon:  Ever since the great Roger Bucknall built this beautiful “Baby Fylde” so many months ago now I have been promising him some video footage of me playing this remarkable instrument. Obviously Covid has put a hold on so many things at the moment, but now things are easing off a tad I felt the time was right to try and get something special filmed that would truly do justice to this fine guitar.

The chosen piece to show off the sound of this world class instrument had to be “Loren” the piece I wrote a few years back in memory of the lovely Loren Jansch. I think I chose well. The footage has been placed on YOUTUBE for all to see. I hope that Loren’s family will be touched by the gesture, and that my pal Rog will be pleased with the end result. My goodness he has waited long enough!

I know it doesn't sound like such a small guitar, but it really is that very guitar in the audio, I’m so pleased with the sound, glorious, rich and even.
Those of you who study such things will notice that the audio and video were recorded separately. That was in order to avoid recording the screams from all Gordon's groupies on the other side of the garden fence. It's a constant battle for him, poor man, I don't know how Hilary tolerates it.

It's always so rewarding to see Gordon play, he is as good as ever, and thank you Gordon for going to so much trouble and for being such a good friend.

Jane and Moira both commented favourably on the cushion that Gordon used to keep the guitar off the grass. 

Gordon's site 

Video by Mark and Jane Day of "fluidfox". Fluidflux website

Janschology

It is ten years since Bert and Loren Jansch died. To mark that, Gordon is re-releasing his 2000 CD “Janschology” as a download and including the recording he did for the video above. The piece was Gordon’s dedication to the memory of Loren and will be added to the original 6 tracks. The rerelease on Mirror Noir records should be available around November 22nd all being well. It also features Gordon singing, a very rare thing to behold, but Gordon says he is not intending to enter Eurovision. The beautiful cover photograph was taken by Hilary at Bert and Loren’s wedding.


Bill Bailey

The whole show is available in BBC iPlayer, it's one of best comedy and music shows I've seen, and of course, Bill finished off the show in his usual style with a new tune using his Fylde Mandola. His last YouTube with the mandola has reached 1.7 million views.

Bill's Website


ORLEANS and Martin Simpson

Martin Simpson and I have been talking guitars since 1975 and one way or another he has owned quite a few Fyldes. Two years ago, after we recorded "The Instrument Makers" for Radio Four, we made a plan over a little drink and a little food. Martin had some thoughts and I had some thoughts, so we made him a guitar. We had more thoughts, so we made another guitar. Then we had some more thoughts and we made him another guitar, it's a weird way of working but we both enjoy it. We have had more thoughts since then, but Martin has to buy a bigger house first.

Since those three "iterations" of the basic idea, we have made two more for Martin's friends and one to keep in the workshop as a reference. One of those is featured below, with some of the technical details. We have another, rather dramatic version nearly finished which I hope to show next month.

I want to make this guitar more often, it's such a lovely thing, and I needed a name. I've had a particular Shakespearean character in mind for a long time "The Bastard of Orleans" (sorry, that's a straight copy from Shakespeare, don't blame me). It's such an evocative name, but probably a bit harsh and it doesn't "scan" very well anyway. I will point out though, that the term was a mark of respect at the time, a Royal acknowledgment of an illegitimate son. We saw the play, Henry VI part one, at Stratford, it's a very powerful play, but the amount of saliva flying round on stage would have closed the theatre nowadays. We were in the front row, exceptional, never seen the like before or since.

Anyway, back to the story. It so happens that Martin lived in New Orleans for quite a while, which has to be fate. The idea was so simple that it's taken a long time to sink it, we both agree that the "FYLDE ORLEANS" is splendid and very appropriate. I've missed out the other bit, because Martin is a very very nice man.


Simpson Cutting Kerr. Dark Swift and Bright Swallow

And here is the guitar, or one of them anyway.
One of the comments below the video - Nice song. Who is the guy singing and playing guitar? I like his voice.
I'm not sure if that was meant in jest.

Martin's website


A Nice Buzz

This is one of the "Orleans" models before we decided on the name. The starting point was a twelve-fret short scale, using the Falstaff body size, but reduced in depth and with a cutaway to restore high fret access. There would be no metal components in the neck, just four sections of carbon fibre reinforcement continuing through the neck into the body. This one is a little different, it has the carbon fibre, but with an adjustable truss rod added as well, partly to see how much difference it makes. It's early days, so far, I'd say that both concepts work very well but I'm tempted to keep to the idea of no truss rod because it is so "honest" and simple, and it really does work.

Martin thinks these guitars are the most comfortable to hold and play that he has. Even with the relatively heavy Rosewood and Spruce, the weight is only 1.8 Kgs and the physical balance is a delight.

The customer asked for Bee inlays, so one of the pictures above is my pathetic attempt at humour, long term readers should be used to this by now. I cut the "proper" Bee from solid silver because I didn't fancy my chances of cutting the thin antennae and legs out of Pearl. Even so my first attempt lost a leg, so I had to start again. Anybody want a five-legged silver Bee inlay on their guitar? I have one spare.

I'd forgotten that I keep my piercing saw blades in a Falstaff cigar tube! Hamlet's aren't big enough.

There have been various observations of course - "It buzzes at the twelfth fret" . Mike English joined in with "It’s a hive of activity down here". "Everyone buzzing about". "That’ll keep you busy busy busy"- and he tells me off for MY jokes!

"A nice buzz" was the title of the track that Peter Berryman recorded for the Fylde Acoustic Album in 1977. Memories

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Tristan Seume EP. Hand Picked from the Eighties

Five tracks from Tristan, music from the Eighties, which I barely remember of course. Choose your own explanation for that.

Buy it here


Adam Palma. Rheged

Adam wrote this tune some years ago and I have featured it before, but never with percussion. "Rheged" is a local exhibition and retail centre near to the Fylde Workshop where Adam and I first met. It was at the Cumbria Guitar Show and marked a new direction in Adam's Guitar playing and the beginning of a wonderful "symbiotic' relationship, each of us introducing the other to new worlds. He's never said as much "to my face" but I like to believe Adam wrote the tune in response to that first Fylde guitar which changed so much for him. If that isn't true, then it should be.

Adam's Website


Antonio Forcione. African Dawn

Another astonishing performance from Antonio, I suspect he never plays a tune the same way twice. I've not yet seen him play live on stage, but I really do hope we put that right next year.

Antonio's Website


Megan Henwood. The last Mountain

Another BBC iPlayer event. You won't see Megan here, or hear her guitar, but her voice is there all the way through in the background, and in the closing song "Boundless and Blue" Her name is in the credits, but you'll need to be quick. Link to video

Megan's Website


Whisky and Wood

I have more progress with the conservatory, mortices cut for the doors, tenons started. I've been a lot more careful with my poor battered hands after the two recent operations, but I did cut these by hand and so far, no ill effects, thank you NHS. I do find that a little anaesthetic helps though, here are my latest three bribes/gifts/thankyou's. I'm amazed that I don't get many duplicates, I can only suppose that Moira sends out a secret updated list. She's a clever girl, but then she tells me I have too many bottles. I don't understand, how is that possible?

I'm afraid to say that Alex and Paul are in the early stages of a similar hobby, nothing at all to do with me of course, I do my best to keep them safe.


Elliott Morris

Elliott dropped by this week. We gave his guitars a quick check over, it seems that no matter how big we make the scratch plate he will always find a way of adding more damage somewhere else. This video explains how that happens, at least he stops short of lighter fluid and teeth. So far anyway. Like a lot of people, Elliott has spent lockdown growing a splendid beard.

Elliot's website


Damien O'Kane

Two rather nice pictures from Damien, he is starting to use the new bouzouki. "I love it. It has so much body and depth to it."

Thanks Damien

Damien's Website

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Toby Hay. O'Carolans Dream

At last Toby has put nose to grindstone and recorded with his new Ariel, and I have learnt something new, Toby plays harp as well, you can hear it on his latest album with David Ian Roberts

Toby's latest album availbale here

Toby's website


Ewan Macdonald. Mominette

We made this guitar quite recently. It's a 12 fret 12 string Falstaff tuned CGCGDG, in unison pairs. I like the way Ewan brings in the bass strings more and more as the tune progresses. I could have this on a loop, it's a bit of an ear worm and a foot tapping worm if there is such a thing.


Guitar for Howard Lees

I think I could start a series of pictures of men playing Fylde guitars in big comfy chairs - have a look at Arlen Roth last month. Any other candidates please do tell me.

This guitar was supposed to be built during lockdown while Howard had no football to watch. It took a while to decide what to build, but here we are. The body size is smaller than an Ariel but keeps the standard scale length and 12 fret neck so it's very compact. Howard is pleased; “sounds gorgeous, looks fab, feels great, fits with me in my chair.”
  
I wish we could hear him play nowadays - Howard?

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AURI Pearl Diving

 

This is taken from the 2nd album by Troy Donockley's British/Finnish splinter group 'AURI’. "a festival of Fyldes in an expansive cosmic orchestral setting!"

This track features Troy's Fan Fret Bouzouki and Portuguese Mandola. and has so far had 278,000 hits! The band is planning to play mostly in Castles and Cathedrals when they start touring, that should be fun. Moira might get a new dress.


Chris Jordan. Back to The Well

This is Chris' second album to raise awareness and funds for The Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Chris is a local player and a good friend of ours. As a youth he was an athlete and a gymnast. but he is now suffering severe problems with MND. As the disease has progressed, we have made and adapted guitars to help him, but his condition now means he cannot play at all.

He has managed though, to put together this album using keyboards and old guitar recordings.

You can see the whole package here.


John Smith drops in

We had a lovely time when the band dropped by a few days ago but I'd forgotten to buy biscuits. John left two of his guitars to be serviced, which he'll collect next week.
Then a few days later we saw the splendid show at Stoller Hall in Manchester, it’s a great venue and John had five video cameras working away, we shall have to see what comes of that.

John's Website


The No Train Blues

Rather than drive to Manchester from Blackpool and have one of us sulk because he couldn't have a drink, Keith and I decided to let the train take the strain. What a good idea we thought, we'll have a few pints we thought, catch the last train back we thought, change at Salford and not stress about anything. That all worked quite splendidly until we set off home after the show, got off the train at Salford at 11.30 and looked for the advertised connection.

No train.

We asked the only rail employee we could find - "which platform does the Preston train leave from please?" "No more trains tonight, just one back to Manchester". "But it's on the timetable" " Sorry, there are no more trains" "Are you sure?" " There are no more trains, other than one back to Manchester" "But----"

Stunned silence, anxious looks, neither of us had a phone. More silence. Hesitant discussion of options. Quick but fruitless search for taxi. Rail employee no help whatsoever. Rail employee disappeared. Empty station. Final train arrived, our only option, taking us to our unknown doom.

Back in Manchester we had a choice - hotel, taxi or sleep on a bench.

The taxi drivers lit up with delight when we told them we needed to get to Blackpool. The driver at the front of the taxi rank didn’t speak very good English and didn't understand where we wanted to go. The driver of the second cab did speak good English and knew exactly what was involved - I could see the pound signs spinning in his eyes. It was quite funny watching his dilemma, he obviously wanted the fare for himself, but I think the first chap might have been his father in law so he was a little conflicted. Anyway, we did the right thing, chose the first driver and of course we needed to pay the man before he would drive us anywhere. We tried counting those new ultra-slippery plastic notes, in the dark, in a strong wind, slightly drunk. We needed £140 and we didn't have enough. But perhaps we did, and it just blew away, we'll never know. A good job he had a credit card machine.

I think we will question that choice of driver for the rest of our lives, it's quite likely that he was a retired fighter pilot. While still in Manchester, the speed bumps were ignored, and once on the motorway he used all four lanes plus the hard shoulder in a constant sideways swooping motion, a bit like ice skaters do to get up speed.  Have you ever taken the slip road off to the left then suddenly changed your mind and swerved back onto the motorway at full speed, crossing all the bumps and ridges in between? In a Black Cab? We have. Half way along the M61 we began to scrabble for our seat belts - watch the film "Bullit" and you'll see what I mean. And guess what? Despite all the delays, we arrived back before the train that didn't exist would have arrived if it had existed. Thank you, Mr very understanding but scary fighter pilot taxi man.


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