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December 2019: in this issue:

Chris Difford’s New Guitar
Megan Henwood's Christmas Video
Megan's new guitar
Keltas Le Gallois
Will McNicol
Big Mouth, Fat Bottom Cittern
When is a Fylde not a Fylde?

David Mead
Eight Cakes a Week
Keith Chesterton. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Five String High strung
Elliott Morris.
Strings that Jingle all the way
Swarbrick, Soul, James and Nicol

Chris Difford’s New Guitar
  • Chris Difford's New Guitar
  • Chris Difford 1-LC0A4547
  • Chris Difford 2-LC0A4550
  • Chris Difford 3-LC0A4551
  • Chris Difford 4-LC0A4556
  • Chris Difford 5-LC0A4560
Chris Difford 1-LC0A4547

Chris is playing near us this week, so hopefully will collect his new guitar and we'll be able to see and hear it on stage.

This is rather unusual for us, lots of Abalone inlay and an unusual shape. It's a slightly fattened "Goodfellow". I don't get much time to do this sort of work nowadays, so I usually resist such requests, but it's nice once in a while. Nevertheless, the guitar was taking a long time to complete, so I took advantage of the opportunity to spread the skills a little and had Paul do the inlay, I think he's rather proud of himself.

I'm not sure how Chris managed to persuade me to make this, I think it was a long series of gentle requests like "how would you feel about …", and "how about going the extra mile …" , and "one more thing …", so that I didn't really notice quite how far we had gone! But - it’s lovely and sounds glorious.

Chris tested it out for a few weeks before asking for the fingerboard inlays, and Chris's sound engineer is particularly impressed - with the sound, and the inlays!

Chris's Site

Megan Henwood's Christmas Video

No, this isn’t because of the election, but it's very appropriate. Time will tell won't it?

Megan is in a very advanced stage of nearly being a mom, but she had promised me a Christmas video, and here it is. Well done Megan, best of luck. If it's a girl, call her Roger.

Megan's new guitar

I had more or less simultaneous emails from about three different people, sort of dropping big hints about this. I wanted to do it anyway.

So I did. Nobody gave me any specifications, and there wasn't even a suggestion as to materials, you know what that means don't you? I had fun.

I thought that Megan might struggle with anything full size for a while, so the scale length is even shorter than our usual Tenor, and with a 12-fret neck, the instrument is shorter still. A shallow body seemed important; I think it will be perfect to play sitting down in a big soft sofa.

Back and sides are Figured Myrtle that Moira and I brought back from Oregon. The top is Yellow Cedar that I was sent "by mistake" from Alaska, the neck is Claro Walnut, again from Oregon, laminated with Rosewood, from India. The Ebony fingerboard is from Cameroon. I really must start thinking of the air miles involved in this business, although I've had all this timber for a long long time. I don’t think I'll be buying any more. That's what I tell Moira anyway.

Megans' site

Isn't it sweet?

  • Megan's Tenor Guitar
  • Megan Henwood Tenor 1-LC0A4584
  • Megan Henwood Tenor 2-LC0A4591
  • Megan Henwood Tenor 3-LC0A4598
  • Megan Henwood Tenor 4-LC0A4603
  • Megan Henwood Tenor 5-LC0A4596
Megan Henwood Tenor 1-LC0A4584
Keltas Le Gallois

I don't know anything about the band, but they sent me this video as soon as it was released. Good to see a mandolin featured so strongly.

If anyone knows any more about them, please do tell me.

Will McNicol

Will sent me this

"A lovely guitar indeed - well and truly "played in"! And I had a great time recording it"

It's for sale at The North American Guitar. I did notice though, that they have it down as a 1978 Oberon. That didn't look or sound at all right, so I checked, it’s actually a 1979 Falstaff, and the description isn't exactly accurate. I have told them.

The sound is typical of a Falstaff from that period. It's the bass in particular that gives it away: solid and firm, great for someone like Martin Carthy. The guitar has huge sustain, and I suspect, massive headroom.

I'm not sure the TNAG has corrected its description yet. Any questions, you can ask me, and I'll do my best.


Will's site

Big Mouth, Fat Bottom Cittern
  • Fat Bottom Cittern
  • Deep Bodied Cittern 1-LC0A4617
  • Deep Bodied Cittern 2-LC0A4621
  • Deep Bodied Cittern 3-LC0A4623
  • Deep Bodied Cittern 4-LC0A4629
  • Deep Bodied Cittern 5-LC0A4635
Deep Bodied Cittern 1-LC0A4617

Oh, just for a moment I thought I was writing about someone I know.

I think this would usually be described as "fat ass", but this is England, and we know how to describe the big end of our citterns thank you.

Made for a good friend who we hadn't seen for a while. He wanted to fit the soundhole pickup rather than an internal system, hence the unusual large soundhole, which tends to raise the body resonant frequency, not lower it as you might assume.

When is a Fylde not a Fylde?

It will be interesting to watch the progress of this project; I am in touch with Colin about it.

David Mead

David was here this week, interviewing me for a feature in "Guitarist" Magazine, due out in the February Edition.

We had a great time. I was hoping to take them to "OUR" pub, but who wants to be designated driver when going to a real ale pub. We ate lots of Chocolate Macaroons instead.

David tested all the "experimental guitars" while he was here, it was very useful, and I took notes. Some conclusions are starting to form in my mind, I will write about them as soon as I can. 

One of my predictions has already come true. I haven't advertised any of these guitars, but four of them have sold already. I had hoped to hang on to them for quite a long time, but I didn't want them here over the holidays, and I knew I would be under pressure to "let them go" quite quickly. Perhaps we will make some more.

This design might become a regular model, I need a name.

Here's a little of David's music

David's site

Eight Cakes a Week

I won't use his name, but the lucky entrant who won our recent competition had forgotten that the winner was to buy all of us a drink. I reminded him, and a parcel arrived.

They were very nice.

Inside the parcel was a note "Roger, remind me not to enter any more of your competitions." Just remember, whoever you are, your entry was "eight cakes a week". It's been three weeks now, and only one box of cakes. Has something happened?

Keith Chesterton. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

There are two connections here. One is the seasonal music and the time of year. The other you can work out for yourself. Think cake.

Five String High strung

A good connection to the previous item. A guitar with similar "Nashville" tuning, but with only five strings.

Made for Adam Holmes after a number of conversations with Martin Simpson. It's Adam's idea, for use in their band "The Magpie Arc"

The idea is to accommodate a particular tuning and stringing without the compromise of being a modified six string. The obvious thing was to twist two designs together, the six string Alexander body size, and the four string Tenor, with a carefully thought out neck. The body is a little shallower than either of those designs, something which Martin and I have been favouring for a while.

It sounds like a music box, just needs a little ballerina on top.

Nancy's mom took the photograph that I used on the "Fylde Acoustic" album in 1976, it's a small world.

I love Martin's slide playing. It's early days for the band, I don't think they will be touring until next year but I'm looking forward to it. Link to Magpie Arc's website

Here is the band ...

  • 5 String Guitar
  • Martin Simpson 5-string 1-LC0A4566
  • Martin Simpson 5-string 2-LC0A4569
  • Martin Simpson 5-string 3-LC0A4575
  • Martin Simpson 5-string 4-LC0A4581
  • Martin Simpson 5-string 5-LC0A4572
Martin Simpson 5-string 1-LC0A4566
Elliott Morris

At the Andrea Parodi World Music Festival in Cagliarai, Sardinia, in October, while Nobel Prizes were being announced and Booker Prize judges were deliberating over their final choice,   Elliott  received the ‘best music’ award.

Didn't he do well?  I think Elliott has a lot more videos etc, due in the new year.

Elliott's site

Strings that Jingle all the way

There is still time to buy all your loved ones a really splendid present. Everyone will love it. It's only money, it's for three very good causes, and it's absolutely wonderful.

Get it here

Swarbrick, Soul, James and Nicol

Let's finish off with some memories. My memories anyway.

This is how I remember Swarb, mostly with Martin Carthy, cigarette dangling permanently from his lip, I think he smoked B&H because the ash "stayed on" longer. Violin rosin and fag ash must have made a lovely combination. Regulations have changed in all sorts of ways, haven't they? 

A typical Swarb musical race to the finish.