Please note: due to changes in regulations and constant design developments, we sometimes need to change details such as binding and inlay materials.
We made a number of Personal Selection guitars to show at Ullapool this year. I couldn't display many "standard” instruments as I have two years of orders and I can't sell one that should by right be going to a customer, so most of what we took were "specials" and a few from part exchange deals.
Here is one. It's a very special combination of an Orsino and a Falstaff, highly figured Claro Walnut back and sides, English Walnut neck laminated with Ebony. Ebony bindings with gold borders. Abalone Diamond fingerboard inlays, Gotoh 510 tuners and a beautiful Dark Cedar soundboard. It's intended for fingerstyle playing, with a fingerboard 46.5mm wide.
Because of the level of appointments and cost of the materials, I’ve described it as a Falstaff, but sound wise, because of the Cedar top, it’s more like an Orsino than a Falstaff - warm, smooth, very responsive rather than bright and forceful. The Walnut body also pushes things in that direction. Whatever it is, it’s a lovely thing, of course.
For sale at £5,400 - SOLD
We had twenty-two guitars on display. It was the hardest ever year to prepare for and we were all rather tired when we got there. Driving through the Great Glen at night in a fierce storm was wonderful but finding our first B&B in Glencoe in that storm wasn't so easy. Then it was great to be back in Ullapool the next day, and it looks as if the future of the festival is secured, thanks to new energy, ideas and suggestions from all concerned.
Roll on 2023. I'd better start getting ready .
Carl is of course, from "Supertramp" and has been to Ullapool several times, he is very easy to chat to and we have a lot of USA contacts in common.
He was fascinated by the double neck, and actually managed to play it!
Carl is on my target list, watch this space.
Just a few snaps of artists and customers who dropped by. It's the part of the festival that I enjoy the most, but I didn't have time to do much chatting this year. I think I was out of practice, must try harder.
There are two of these, almost identical. I had two sets of similar wood, specially cut for mandolins rather than being smaller pieces from guitar materials. The back and sides are highly figured Rock Maple, and the tops are Bear Claw Swiss Pine. The necks are made from the same Curly Maple Cello back that I used for Martin Simpson's banjo neck. Ebony trim with red borders. Mike's photographs display them very accurately, lovely instruments.
For sale £2600.(Only one left)
See what I did there - one thing leads -
John Smith, Antonio and Jule's sound check with three sets of pedal boards on stage.
Making acoustic guitars is no longer all about woodwork. Clive Carroll though, ever a trend setter, is now performing with two microphones and no Di.
To be 100% honest, the mandolin does not belong to Antonio, it has been commissioned by a friend, to be used by Antonio when needed. It's a Signature model, but with a much wider fingerboard. I wish I had friends like that. Antonio seems happy!
Antonio's set with Jule Malischke was a delight. He does not speak German, and she does not speak Italian, so they communicate in English - we do have a function in Europe!
A small part of John's main set. He is constantly changing, adjusting his aim in life and in music. We have his first Fylde on the bench at the moment for yet another experiment in pickup systems. He never stops looking.
John left the Festival with a day to spare before his USA tour. Upon arrival in America, the car he had booked wasn't available., and he was upgraded - to a Mustang. No wonder he enjoys his USA tours. He arrived early for all of his gigs. When I drive in the USA, I always get into trouble, I wouldn't dare drive a Mustang there.
John has a UK tour starting soon, I think he'll have to downgrade his wheels. At least it will have a proper gearbox this time.
Gordon wasn't on the "list" this year, he came along just to mingle and to help out with some workshops. He had a lovely time, meeting old friends and playing a few duets.
He was the first artist to play at the late-night festival club, everything immediately went dead quiet - that old phrase “you could have heard a pin drop”. I've known him for so long, and even I was impressed. Well done Gordon.
Tristan loves playing instrumental versions of 1980's hits. At the festival, he borrowed my poster of Nancy Wilson to have at his side while he played Heart's "These Dreams". I think he would rather have had the real person. "These Dreams" indeed.
I think this video is from a few years ago but I only found it this weekend, Hugh is a mainstay of the festival, running workshops, lending a hand everywhere and constantly making connections from his little black book. He knows everybody. Just look at his Wikipedia page.Hugh's Wikipedia Page
I was looking for something a little unusual to take to Ullapool, and here we are. I made a display case for a selection of special small tools that we have made to solve particular problems.
We all threw bits and pieces into a box and Alex did the arrangement at the show before he started on the whisky. Next year it might be Paul's turn. I had a few little discussions with other guitar makers about what all these things were. I don't think they believed me most of the time. There really is a 'scratch stock' in there, and a 'DPA socket', an 'excursion micrometer' a 'reverse counterbore' and a 'bush press'
Nothing to do with Ullapool, but Adam deserves some space here.
In 2020, Adam spent 44 days in an induced Coma due to Covid. We were all very concerned for him, he battled through and is playing better than ever. He launches his new project very soon.
"On ‘Second Life,’ I would love to share with you some original compositions in which I’ve tried to express the raw emotions I felt during my recovery and the new-found energy I have for life. This is a very personal musical tale, full of unexpected twists and surprises, just like my life"
The Album is nominated for a Grammy Award, let's hope Adam succeeds,
A picture from a few years ago.
There was only one down side this year, there is no longer a pool table in Ullapool. It should henceforth be known as Ulla. Or should it be Ullapoolless? Ulla Pooless - a Scandinavian swimmer with no training facilities.
There were lots of stories around this table over the weekend. I took five bottles of Single Malt Scotch and a bottle of English Whisky to the highlands as a sort of cattle prod to start a gentle discussion, it didn't work. Even the Japanese whisky didn't start a debate. Basically, we all just drank the proper stuff.
One generous customer put an extra bottle on the table and got a little upset when it had all gone an hour or so later. Then a good friend was asking for a some "Medicine" but I misunderstood completely and actually took him to the first aid cabinet, true. I was a little tired and emotional I suppose; I think everyone was rather concerned for me. It had been a very hard week. Sorry guys, and gals.
On Sunday, I decided that I had to pack all the whisky away in the car to avoid carrying what was left through the streets later that night. Of course, that didn't work, words were exchanged, and I had to unpack everything again - Ullapool is a thirsty place.
One of the keys on our piano had stuck, so of course I had to take it apart. I'm an old hand at this, in 1973 it was a common sight to see Bill Astley and myself wheeling old pianos through the streets of St Anne’s before breaking them up to get at the wood, quite honestly it was a waste of time, but good fun. Over the years I've learnt a lot from studying piano construction.
Anyway, after finding a tiny spring had come loose, probably due to overzealous playing and replacing it using a long screwdriver, it seemed an obvious opportunity to show the workings to an eager audience.
Great fun was had by all. I just need to tune it now.
I've noticed, that once they are in pieces, all pianos smell the same, sort of warm, dusty and old. No comments thank you.
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