November Newsletter

  • Personal Selection Rio Falstaff for sale
  • Remi Harris
  • O'Carolans Draught  on Two citterns
  • Martin Simpson Front Room Gig
  • Martin Simpson's first Orleans guitar for sale
  • Adam Palma and Guitarist Magazine in Poland
  • Adam Palma. Revolotionary Etude
  • Remi Harris. Dinette
  • Strings That Nimble Leap
  • Lisa Hannigan. Night Swimmer
  • Gordon Giltrap
  • Gordon in Guitarist Magazine
  • Maple Mandolin for Sale
  • For Sale Next Month
  • John Smith and Katherine Priddy. Talk to me of Mendocino
  • John and Katherine at Cockermouth
  • Will McNicol. The Phoenix Cycle
  • Tristan Seume
  • Granny's Attic
  • Robert Hilary. In the Light
  • Andy Irvine
  • Andy Irvine. Martinmas time
  • Len Ng
  • What a coincidence
Personal Selection Rio Falstaff - SOLD

If I made a guitar for myself, this would probably be it, but too much heavy work and damage to my hands means I could never do it justice. I should have made it twenty years ago when I could still play quite well. Maybe things will change and there is still time?

It's one of a kind, with history going back to "guitars of yesteryear" and with input from many newer sources, including the guitars we have made for Martin Simpson (more of which later).

The back and sides are glorious Brazilian Rosewood, so dark that it will easily be mistaken for Ebony or African Blackwood, but it has been tested by Kew Gardens, and has CITES papers to prove it.

The soundboard is Sitka Spruce that I've had for probably thirty years, perfectly quarter sawn with fine, straight, even grain, and a little natural colour in the wood. I chose it for its stiffness, but I do like that little bit of "reality" in wood, I suspect it will go quite dark within a few years.

Snakewood binding and truss rod cover. Red lines where I thought it suitable (I enjoy being "suitable" occasionally). Laminated Mahogany neck with Ebony fingerboard, marked with cut square Abalone inlays. Gotoh 510 tuners. The 46 mm neck is quite a shallow profile, 20mm deep with a very slight V shape and well suited to people with a "proper" technique.

Now for the main event, it's a long scale, 12 fret neck, with the bridge right in the "sweet spot" of the soundboard. I know that many guitar makers love making this style of guitar, it gets the best out of everything, with the minor sacrifice of having to try harder if you want to play high up on the neck.

For sale at £9500 including a Hiscox Progad case - SOLD

It sounds quite lovely and deserves a very good home.

  • Personal Selection Rio Falstaff for sale
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Remi Harris

and here is a picture of Remi playing that same guitar on a recent visit. 

O'Carolans Draught on Two citterns

I'm not sure how I came across this. I've been saving it up.

One Fylde Cittern, and one by our good friend Stefan Sobell. At first, I thought I could easily hear which one was playing which line, but after a while I became very unsure, both instruments sound excellent.

The music is interesting, there are some classic O’Carolan phrases in there but amongst other things I'm sure I can hear bits of Princess Royal as well.

Martin Simpson Front Room Gig

You will be too late to sign up for this. Blame me if you must. Martin is playing one of his "Orleans" model guitars in this video, I think it's number three, number one is for sale! See the feature below

Martin's Website

Martin Simpson's first Orleans guitar - SOLD
  • Martin Simpson's first Orleans guitar for sale

Martin does not have too many guitars, that isn't the problem. The difficulty is that his house is too small. If we Include his Resonator, and the custom "Gibson" banjo, he has five instruments made by ourselves. So, it's very sad, but something has to go. Then he can buy another guitar. And repeat.

This guitar is the first of its type, containing all the technical features that we discussed over beer, wine and lamb chops all those years go.

Martin is inspired by classic, old guitars and had the basic idea of what he was after. Between us we came up with a shallow bodied 12 fret "Falstaff" size, lightly built with Mahogany back and sides (made from the rails of an old snooker table), and a lovely Swiss Pine Soundboard. Martin believes in guitar makers being given freedom, and my contribution in "concept" was a neck with no truss rod and no metal components. Apart from the tuners and strap pins, there is no metal in this guitar. The neck is made from Mahogany reclaimed from a snooker table leg, with significant carbon fibre reinforcement, Ebony laminations with red lines, and a mortice and tenon neck joint.

The headstock has extra "splay" in the slots to improve the string path from the 48mm neck. I think the head looks rather sweet, and we have used Snakewood for the bindings, head veneer and bridge. That bit of added luxury with such a simple concept makes it wonderful to look at, and it feels natural and perfectly balanced to hold and play. It weighs less than 2 kg and is incredibly responsive.

The body is shallow, the neck is wide and neither have I wings to fly. Sorry, where was I?

Robson tuners, and a Highlander 1p2 pickup with a McIntyre Feather on the second channel. That combination of pickups has been the basis of Martin's famous amplified sound for many years. There is an extra jack socket hole in the end block where Martin had his valuable De Armond installed, but we could plug that with mahogany or fit a dummy jack socket to disguise it, so just ask.

When he took delivery, Martin used it straight away at his guitar weekend and phoned several times to report in. It was the "best set up" guitar he had, and it "outperformed" all the other guitars there.

There was one thing that Martin needed, that this guitar doesn't have - a cutaway. The next two versions of the guitar included a cutaway so one way or another, this one is surplus and must be sacrificed.

We have polished out some of the small marks that were proof of its professional use, live and in recordings, but left some small nail marks under the strings--remaining evidence of its history.

It's difficult to know how much to ask, the "hardware" alone would cost £500 if it were still available. It's one of Martin Simpson's personal guitars, custom made for him, that he had a large part in designing. Such guitars do not become available very often. Maybe never.

I discussed it with Martin, and we decided that £4,500 would be about right, so do please enquire. - SOLD

Adam Palma and Guitarist Magazine in Poland

A very handsome picture. Adam doesn't look too bad either.

Adam Palma. Revolotionary Etude

"An étude or study is an instrumental musical composition, usually short, designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular musical skill".

Adam is astonishing. I once asked him if he ever played anything "slow". He said "why would I play slow when I can play fast".

But he can play slowly - If, and only if, he wants to.

One of Adams other Fyldes is just behind him on stage.  Do violin players ever have a second instrument stood behind them, just in case?? What about the double bass player?

Adam's Website

Remi Harris. Dinette

A full-length video from Remi. He loves to film short phrases, which are excellent for guitar geeks but always leave me wanting more. Every time I write a newsletter, I look to see what Remi has posted, and this time - success!

We will be seeing Remi play live in a few weeks, the first time since before lockdown. He and Dani have very kindly been selling the "Nimble Leap" charity album for us, so I'll be collecting the proceeds on the same night.  

Remi's Website

Strings That Nimble Leap

The album proceeds are for charity, so I am shameless in promoting it once again, just before Christmas.  More money for MIND, Help Musicians UK. and The Woodland Trust.

Buy here

Lisa Hannigan. Night Swimmer

The delightful Lisa with her lovely smile, and lovely voice.

I think this is the best onstage video I've seen, something about the colour and clarity. It even includes some good shots of Liza's shoes.

If somebody can do the translation for me I'd be very grateful, although I imagine it's one long list of compliments.

Lisa's Website

Gordon Giltrap

You've seen this guitar being played in this room before. It's one of Gordon's very early Fyldes, basically a Falstaff with a Cedar top, and very lightly built for Gordons style in the 1970's. It has been through several incarnations since then, including being on loan to the horror writer James Herbert. It now belongs to Chris Abrams, who also filmed it being played by Ken Nicol a few months ago.

Gordon talks about it a lot on his website

Gordon's Website

Gordon in Guitarist Magazine

Lots of lovely comments and pictures In the December edition. Gordon is one of my dearest friends and deserves every accolade.

Link to Guitarist Magazine

Maple Mandolin for Sale
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I showed two versions of this last month. One of them sold straight away, and the other is still here. I can only assume that I didn't make it clear enough that there were two of these. Christmas is coming - what a lovely present this would make. Buy it for your beloved, then offer to take it off their hands when they tell you they don't actually play mandolin and were hoping for an Oboe.

For Sale. £2600 inc case

For Sale Next Month

In December, I hope to have three more instruments for sale.

A Birdseye Maple Personal Selection Ariel, A second hand "Small Falstaff", and a second hand Long Scale Signature Bouzouki.

Don't spend all your Christmas money until you've seen them.

John Smith and Katherine Priddy. Talk to me of Mendocino

I do enjoy videos that show rather more than the audio with pictures, John and Katherine obviously put a lot of effort into this and did a great job.

OK, as requested, I will talk to you of Mendocino. It's a sweet little town on the coast of North California. We've stayed there twice and explored it at length. (It didn't take long!).  

Patterson's pub has a huge range of draught beer, one of which, "Rasputin", definitely deserves its name and I shall not be drinking it again. There is a lot of "Whole food" going on, plus galleries and gift shops, and it's the place where "Murder She Wrote" was filmed. On one of our visits, I honestly couldn't find the bed in our B&B, because it was hidden by an enormous number of cushions. Even Moira was impressed, and Moira is Queen of Cushions. 

I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is a lot happening in Mendocino that visitors never get to see, and you can take that anyway you like.  It's also one of the original sources of "Sinker Redwood" timber, which of course, is why we go.  Plus the cushions of course.

John's Website

Katherine's Website

John and Katherine at Cockermouth

Cockermouth Kirkgate centre is one of our nearest live music venues so it's surprising that we haven't been before. The audience seemed to be in two parts, some had come to see John, and some had come to see Katherine, Hopefully, it was beneficial to both. John of course is our very good friend, and Katherine comes from my home ground in Birmingham, so they are two splendid people.

We love Cockermouth, it has so much history, and lots of Real Ale pubs, but I always make straight for an old-fashioned Hardware store.  If you know what "Four Candles" refers to, you will know what I mean, and in case you live in outer Mongolia here it is: just click the play button on the picture above. 

Here are the links to the actual shop, it even has bundles of four candles for sale on the counter. I don't have any connection, but I wish I did.

JJ Banks Website

JJ Banks Facebook Page

Will McNicol. The Phoenix Cycle

At the end of the month Will is releasing a new single using his Fylde Nylon string, the artwork looks so interesting that I thought I'd give you all a little prior notice. I will post links next month.

... and some workshops coming up.

Will's Website

Tristan Seume

Tris has a new publicity photograph, very sophisticated, and a workshop next year that you should think seriously about

Tristan's Website

Granny's Attic

One of my favourite bands, I find the fiddle and melodeon together to be very powerful, but adding the guitar in such a rhythmic style adds another dimension. There is hope for young people after all.

Granny's Attic Website

Robert Hilary. In the Light

The final thirty seconds are perhaps the most calming things I've ever seen.

Andy Irvine

Andy came to buy strings, but I never let a musician off that easily. I couldn't resist showing him the double neck guitar, and he was mesmerised. We went on to discuss Donal Lunny's double neck Fylde bouzouki, watch this space.

Andy Irvine. Martinmas time

Andy playing his Octave Mandola with "The Gang"

Len Ng

I know nothing about Len, but I like his videos.

What a coincidence

I do love a good co-incidence. This is my latest.

Recently I phoned a supplier in Manchester who I hadn't spoken to for about fifteen years and asked if they could send their representative to see me.

Certainly sir, which area are you in?

I'm in Cumbria.

Oh - he's in your area today sir.

My word! Can I have his number?

So, I phoned him, he answered straight away. He was sitting in his car only a hundred yards away from me, on the same business estate, over 100 miles away from his base in a sales area of about 20,000 square miles. He was with me in five minutes.

I was tempted to run out and put fifty pence on a long odds horse.

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