November 2020 Newsletter

  • Custom Leonardo for sale - SOLD
  • Biréli lagrène
  • Bill Bailey on Graham Norton
  • Martin Simpson's online guitar workshop, 21st November
  • Martin Simpson "Home Recordings"
  • Fylde Jigsaws
  • Wood Sweat and Tears extended - again
  • Tristan Seume. St Annes Reel
  • New Single from Megan Henwood
  • Bevelled, scooped, swerved 12 string for Henry Olsen
  • New Guitar for John Doyle
  • Remi Harris: my picking technique
  • More New Videos - The Wood Store
  • Nic Jones and RobotRYRy
  • A new Quintar
  • Will McNicol.  Mirror
  • Ben Walker's new Album. The Rakes of Adair
  • Ron Cottam: The downfall of Paris
  • RIP Spencer Davis
  • A Tone like Slice and 10,000 jiffy bags
Custom Leonardo for sale
  • Custom Leonardo
  • CF002984
  • CF002988
  • CF002994
  • CF002987

It's an ill wind etc. The current circumstances are bringing lots of extra orders, and many people want to spend their enforced free time playing guitars, but inevitably, there have been problems, hence - we have a spare guitar.
It's brand new, a beautiful thing. Amazing quilted Maple back and sides and a lovely Cedar soundboard. 44.5mm Ebony fingerboard with Abalone Diamond inlays. Gorgeous full sound, and such a comfortable body size. We can fit a pickup if required.

It was for sale at £5,800, which is less than it would be for a new order of a similar design.

I've often told this story - in the 1970's there was a massive shortage of tonewood in this country, Maple and Cedar was all that was available to us for a while.  All those guitars were remarkable in tone - warm, rich and surprisingly loud. It's a great combination of wood, but a little out of fashion now and not chosen very often.

Gordon Giltrap's latest Signature Fylde is a similar combination, just a little smaller, and he is constantly telling me it's the best he's ever played.


Biréli Lagrène

Biréli was so keen to get on stage and start playing that he started by himself. Seems to be enjoying the guitar as well.

Bill Bailey on Graham Norton

Taking a short, distanced break from "Strictly Come Dancing", Bill was a guest of Graham Norton last week, explaining that he has learnt two new instruments, the Didgeridoo, and the Mandola.

Lots of people sent me pictures of this, snatched from the TV screen. Thank you everybody who did that.
Bill's website

Martin Simpson's online guitar workshop, 21st November

I think this is a first. Taking the destruction of the Covid lockdown and turning it into a positive, Martin is planning a whole day's online tutorial on 21st November. 
It's an impressive, clever idea, which might well set the scene for many future events.

You can make enquiries through Martin’s website,  or by emailing him at the address he gives in the video. Tell him I sent you.

Martin Simpson "Home Recordings"

And there is more: Martin has recorded a new album, at home. Notice the pet cat at convenient distance in case Martin needs new strings. First, catch your cat.
Martin has placed himself in probably a unique position in the guitar world, every guitar maker refers to him, and he likes to support UK makers in particular. We are all very grateful for that, but it's a "two-way street": Martin helps us as well. Imade my first resonator for Martin in about 1976,in fact "Plains of Waterloo" on the new album is reminiscent of Martin’s playing on the Fylde Acoustic album in 1977.

On this recording, his guitars (and banjos and ukulele) are right up front. The sound quality is excellent and points the way to a future world of recording from home.

I know some of the tracks are played on his Stefan Sobell guitars and an old Martin. His Fylde guitars are there as well, plus several others. I set myself the task of identifying each one, and there are clues, but it isn't at all easy. 

The Album is released on 13th November and available to pre order from here

Fylde Jigsaws

We have the puzzles and are starting to send them out. There is still time to get them in time for Christmas if you order soon, I've ordered another batch so hopefully we will have enough.

You can order from here

Wood Sweat and Tears (Extended ... again)

We've managed to find a company to print the book on real paper with proper ink. It's a bit big: 408 pages and 800 photographs and weighs 2.8 kg.

Or you could go for the very much lighter and cheaper e-book version and read it on your computer.

Or you could do both.

We are going to wait until December 1st to put them on sale, because VAT will no longer apply on e-books from that date, and we should have the printed book available then as well.

So, look out for the full details in a newsletter in about three weeks’ time.

Strings That Nimble Leap

There have been a lot of new subscribers to the newsletter recently so you may not have heard about this project.

In brief: you won't find a better set of guitar recordings, in such a range of styles, from so many top line artists, anywhere else. Plus, it's for charity.

We still have good stocks, but they won't last forever. Buy it now.  Buy it here!

Tristan Seume. St Annes Reel

Tristan has been busy making videos and selling his posh but impractical sports car, so he can now actually travel with a guitar in the car, but it will take him slightly longer to arrive at the gig.

It's a really good idea to have the tab running along the bottom of the screen on this video, and as I say every time, even better to see Tris playing.

Tristan's website

New Single from Megan Henwood

We don't have all the information about this yet, but If we don't tell you now, it will be too late.

 Megan is releasing a single on 20th November. It's called "Hello/Goodbye", and it's about "Stepping through the portal that appears in front of you as you enter into Motherhood".  Wow, a very long single then? Megan and Joe are planning a video to release with the song. I'm sure I'll be able to show you the video next time - after you've bought the single of course.

Pre-order here
Megan's Website

Bevelled, scooped, swerved 12 string for Henry Olsen
  • Henry Olsen's !2-String
  • CF003061
  • CF003069
  • CF003063
  • CF003079
  • CF003081
  • CF003085
  • CF003090
  • CF003093
  • CF003097

An extraordinary design, deliberately so to fulfil Henry's "wide" sense of ascetics. It's an Ariel body, made from Pink Ivory with a Sinker Redwood top. Bindings, bevel, and "scoop" made from Olive wood, which was all a bit of an adventure!

Fan frets and 12 strings on a Claro Walnut neck, laminated with Ebony and red lines. The headstock is built on two levels to accommodate the slanted nut, plus some little features just because I wanted to have a little fun.

I carved out a deep "thumb rest" on the heel which turns out to be amazingly comfortable and allows a slightly different strap pin position. I think I'll call it the Bucknall Swerve. Won't be the first time those words have been used, but not for the same reason.

Henry says it is "absolutely astonishing"

New Guitar for John Doyle

This year has seen quite a few dramas involving guitars becoming separated from their owners. Chris Difford's new Fylde is still in America, while he is in England. Another customer couldn't take delivery of his new guitar for six months because of lockdown in New York, and John Doyle's new guitar was ready in March, but we couldn't arrange delivery. We agreed that it was best if I sold that one, and make another in time, hopefully, for the end of lockdown. Well, that sort of worked, but there was only a three-day window for John to take delivery while he was in Ireland, and guess what? It got lost in transit. I spent five hours on the phone over four days, going around in circles trying to track it down and persuade someone to actually do something. I did eventually speak to someone with a brain and John received it about five minutes before shutoff time. He says it sounds beautiful, I hope it's not too long before he can perform and record with it.

This is a video of John playing his previous Falstaff in 2011. It's the one he calls "The Tank", he uses very heavy strings, up to .070 on the bass, so this guitar was built with a reinforced neck and extra bracing on the soundboard. Watching him more recently and working a little on his guitars, I’ve realised that he doesn't mind if they move around a bit, or even a lot, so this time, his new guitar still has extra reinforcement, but rather more sensitivity built in as well. I look forward to seeing him playing it.

John's Facebook Page

Remi Harris: my picking technique

Here's a good 45 minutes of brain input for you. I once sat in (eavesdropped) on a long conversation between Remi and Clive Carroll, swapping ideas about arranging which strings to use for which notes, seeking maximum efficiency for right hand speed. I've often thought that many popular musicians don’t get " good" on their instrument until after they have started to become well known, because it's at that point where they start to meet the greater talents and learn from them. When two great talents get together, it's magical.

Remi's website

More Workshop Videos

The Wood Store

My favourite place, the wood store. You might have seen bits of this on the Fretboard Journal video, but there is a lot more this time. Once again it wasn’t planned or scripted but I think I’m getting better at videos. I even smile in places. I am amongst wood of course, and I’m happy!

Sam’s camera seems to have a fault, I’m sure I’m not that fat.  Hang on a minute,  Moira’s saying something.

Moira bought me a piece of mahogany last week. What actually happened was that I bought it, but used Moira’s ebay account “by accident”. Hang on again, Moira’s saying something else ... ! 

Nic Jones and RobotRYRy

Isn't it amazing what can be found on a rainy afternoon in front of YouTube?

I saw the video and was imagining this young girl, getting to love Nic's music and dancing to it in the California sunshine, so I contacted the person who had posted the video, asking for the back story and nearly ruined everything. It seems he had mixed Nic's tune with an earlier dance video from Mariah, without asking permission from either, so immediately deleted it. Aaaaggh. But I suggested that I ask Nic's permission, and he asked Mariah's permission, both of which were immediately given, he remixed it a little and here we are again. There is one move in the dance that I really want Moira to learn, she is practicing in the kitchen as I type.

Mariah has a lot more videos here

If you don’t have any of Nic's music in your collection, you really should, seriously. It's all still available, and the DVD produced by Michael Proudfoot (PS, I'm in this video!), from here

A new Quintar
  • A new Quintar
  • LC1A8449
  • LC1A8460
  • LC1A8451
  • LC1A8456
  • LC1A8467

I posted pics of the first one of these a couple of years ago, it's a unique design, the owner was so pleased that he ordered another, made from different materials. This time, Quilted Maple and Sinker Redwood. I decided to use Flamed Maple for the neck, partly because it seemed to make sense, and also because I had offcuts from another project which I will tell you about soon.

It's an extended mandolin, with a low C on the bottom. We've made all sorts of five course mandolins, but each one is compromised by conflicts in body size and string length. The body of the Quintar is deliberately large, and we used compound strings, similar to Viola strings, which completely solve all the string length issues.  It's a massive success, and isn't it pretty?

Will McNicol. Mirror

Will playing this Antonio Forcione piece, Mirror. They are working on a new project together - a notation book of Antonio's music.  Will never stops and I'm a bit worried that I'm losing track of his "output". He seems to be posting new videos all the time and I can't keep up. His new "College" project is working very well, and he uses his Fylde Ariel in a lot of the tuition.

You'll see how busy he is here.

Ben Walker's new Album. The Rakes of Adair

A five track EP of mainly traditional Irish tunes, all with Ben's impeccable style and with all proceeds are going to Macmillan Cancer Support

Here is one of the tracks - Clanuff's delight. Another of the tracks, Si Beag, Si Mor, is a version of the track Ben recorded for the "Nimbles" CD.
The album  is released on 6th November,  available from here.                    

Ben's site

Ron Cottam: The downfall of Paris

Another tune from my old friend Ron, who used to sleep on the floor in my house, because "all floors feel the same". His 18-string guitar is foremost here, with a double neck Olivia from about 1978 and, I think, a standard Olivia from just before that time.

RIP Spencer Davis

The music of my youth. Turn the volume up.

Spencer lived for a while in California, and I used to walk past his house several times a week.
In case you are confused, I'm not talking about California in the USA, I'm talking about California in Birmingham, England. He lived three doors away from my then girlfriend. There is a Hollywood in Birmingham as well.

A Tone like Slice and 10,000 jiffy bags

I've been trying to get my youngest daughter interested in Nevil Shute's books, particularly "A Town like Alice" because she lives in Australia. I think maybe I’m watching too much Bake Off, which along with my keyboard incompetence, caused it to come out as "A tone like slice".

And there's more: I've been looking round for the best packaging to send the new Jigsaws through the post, so I placed a trial order for 100 jiffy bags, leaving Moira to fill in all the financial information (of course, since becoming an MBE, I don't actually pay for things myself ). Then I heard a yell, and Moira pulled me back into the office, barely able to stop laughing. I had ordered 100 lots of 100. Anybody want 10,000 surplus jiffy bags? Fortunately, Moira had caught it in time which partly spoils the story but saved me over £2,000.

There is a sequel. Having "ordered" 10,000 and not completed the order, when we went back to order just 100, of course, the system hadn't updated, and said they were out of stock, some fool had bought them all.

I really should not be allowed out, or in.

PS. HELP. How do I find the password to my password management?

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