• Happy New Year! 2024 here we come
  • John James: Remembering the Blossoms
  • That guitar is for sale!
  • 50 years of Fylde Guitars video
  • David Mead
  • Jon Wilks: Little Matty Groves and Gwendolyn
  • John Smith: Busy Year
  • Walnut Mandolin for Sale - SOLD
  • 50th Anniversary Guitars all Sold
  • More Fylde Books for Sale
  • Will McNicol: I've Written a Book!
  • Clive Carroll on Sundays
  • Frank Ford RIP
  • John Hobson
  • Tijn Berends: The Amazing Shrinking Spinach
  • Chris Herring
  • Jack Haig: Children
  • A very well-travelled, cold and almost drowned Mandolin
  • Arctic Convoy Whisky
  • Phil Hare RIP
  • Put a sock in it
  • Soenke Meinen: The Lakes of Pontchartrain
  • Jule Malischke
  • Jule with Peter Howarth
  • Bouzouki Comparison: Part 2
  • Ice Feathers
Happy New Year! 2024 here we come

It's going to be hard to follow 2023. Let's start the new year off with some music.

John James: Remembering The Blossoms

John on his custom made nine string.

John's Website

That guitar is for sale!

John is trying to reduce the number of guitars he owns, so he will also be selling his Alchemist soon, I'll tell you about that later. He will be left with his two main Fyldes and I'll keep pushing him for more videos.

This nine-string is basically an Oberon, Indian Rosewood and Engelmann Spruce, made specially for him in 2010. In some ways it's similar to other nine strings we have made, but the double strings are on the treble rather than the bass strings. The results are obvious in the video. I love the way John plays the top strings with both thumb and finger, up and down, such a light touch and seemingly effortless.

John wanted the guitar to help explore Welsh harp tunes alongside his better-known ragtime pieces. He used it to write and record "Roger's Roundhouse" for the Fylde Charity CD "Strings that Nimble Leap", which of course is still available.

Did I mention it's for charity?

CD "Strings that Nimble Leap".

We've done a little setting up and restrung the guitar, it didn't need anything else. It's unique and in very good condition. Someone is going to be a very lucky, happy, inspired guitarist.

For sale at £4,500

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Fifty years of Fylde Guitars Video
Release date: January 31st 2024.

It's done. A monumental effort by Sam English and six months work has become one hour and twenty minutes of video, music and comment. I was worried that it would be too long and become boring, but the final edit is compact and to the point, it contains stories I'd forgotten about and some wonderful comments from some very good friends. Each one has told a part of the story they were uniquely placed to tell.

Some of the stories aren't exactly as I remember them, but - hey ho!

The response to the trailer we published last year has been very strong, sometimes a little emotional and I'm sure there will be even more emotions when this final version is viewed. Fifty years is a long time and as has been pointed out to me, a bit of an achievement. Looking back, it only seems like, well, fifty years.

I'm still processing it all, I'm so thankful for all the trouble that everybody went to. The project expanded so quickly that  we couldn't reach everybody I wanted,  a few simply couldn't make it, and a few are no longer with us. I haven't forgotten them, I never will, they have all been so important to me for all that time.

This wasn't  meant to be an ego trip, just a statement and a marker in time, but whatever it is, I do hope you enjoy it. Not long to go now.

I'll send another newsletter with a link to the video when it is released.

David Mead

David posted this on Facebook recently and attracted a lot of comments. He named this guitar "spot" because of a slight blemish in the timber.

I've always managed to find very suitable custodians for such instruments. I don't mind small variations from the "norm" in fine timber,  it's a natural material and these things are “beauty spots", but not everybody likes them. For those who, like David, are concerned only with tone and playability, such things are irrelevant. Sometimes they even add to the personal connection which is so important for a serious player.

David's Website

Jon Wilks: Little Matty Groves and Gwendolyn

Jon is enjoying his new guitar.

"Thanks to Hambledon Folk Club for giving me my first sold-out gig of the year last night, and for helping me name my new Fylde guitar. Gwendolyn it is!"

Yes, Gwendolyn, Jon has given his guitar a name. I think Gwendolyn has Welsh roots, possibly even the name of Merlin's wife.

It so happens that "Roger" is a Welsh name as well, it means "Fame Spear", so I should be good at darts, but I'm not. I can hit treble top with a pool ball, but the balls are too big and won't stick to the board.

I hope to be speaking to Jon soon, it seems we have a lot in common. He is about to go back on tour with Martin Carthy.

Jon's Website

John Smith: Busy Year and New Album!

"I'm thrilled beyond words to tell you that my seventh studio album The Living Kind, produced by Joe Henry, will be out worldwide on March 15th

Pre-order limited edition vinyl, CD and t-shirt bundles here
Pre-save the album to your favourite streaming platform here
The title track is out now, everywhere you stream music here

I first met Joe back in 2011 whilst recording Lisa Hannigan’s Passenger. I immediately recognised in him a brother and mentor. The impact he has had on my musical life has been profound. I’ve sat in on sessions for his own records, and played on his productions for artists such as Joan Baez, but I’ve always wanted to make one of my own records with Joe.

Back in 2022 I was touring the US and stopped in to visit in his new home of Harpswell, Maine. We sat by the fire and wrote a song that just got us thinking, why don’t we just make a record upstairs? One year later, having spent the winter writing, I found myself by that same fireside.

All of a sudden I was ready to start recording. Our bass player Ross arrived with Levon Henry, up from New York. We cut the album in four days while the outside temperatures plummeted to -25c. In the evening we would eat, listen to vinyl, enjoy a cocktail and sleep deeply. In that brief but deep seclusion I did what I feel is my best work to date.

I wanted to cut a record like Spirit of Eden and Hejira, but for guitar and bass. I came out with something different to those, somehow sounding more like me than ever.

I hope you’ll join me for this new chapter."

We've heard some of the new songs, prepare yourselves.

He is also playing "That Pedal Show" in the first week of February, then on the 13th he is off to the USA for three weeks, the start of a pretty intensive touring schedule this year. He enjoys being busy.

That Pedal Show
John's Website

Walnut Mandolin for Sale

This isn't the actual instrument that is for sale, we haven't had chance to take quality pictures, but it's just as nice.

This mandolin has the usual warm mellow tone of the Cedar and Walnut combination, it's becoming more and more popular as time goes on, so we made a spare.

For sale £1,600 plus case - SOLD

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50th Anniversary Guitars all Sold

That isn't quite true, as one of them is on loan to a major artist, but if and when it does come back, there is another customer waiting for it. Of the ten special instruments, two have gone to the USA,  two to Europe and two to the Middle East. That's the way the guitar market is at the moment. Our order book is getting rather long but I'm very loathed to put the prices up, it's so difficult doing the right thing.

More Fylde Books for Sale

Last month I removed the Wood Sweat and Tears Book from sale because we had run out. But now we've found a few more!! They won't last long. £85 plus postage.

Will McNicol: I've Written a Book!

This looks really good value. Guitar playing and tuition standards have risen so much over the last twenty years or so, I think I first noticed the change when I saw what Tristan Seume was doing in his playing and teaching, and of course, Will has carried that on in his own, very personal, natural way.  It can only lead to even higher standards all round and more customers for me. Oh dear.

Will's Website

Clive Carroll on Sundays

Some upcoming special treats for you

"In January 2024 I’ll be playing for you live online, each Sunday night at 8pm UK time (3pm EST) for about 1 hour. So that’s 7th, 14th, and 21st January. I'm playing a live show in Southampton, UK on 28th January so there will be no online concert that night. The final online concert will take place on Sunday 4th February 2024, and I'll be joined by Dariush Kanani to play tunes from "The Music of John Renbourn" tour. If you would like to throw a few pieces of shrapnel in the Carroll bucket, many thanks in advance!  https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/clive... Take care, Clive." 

Clive's Website

Frank Ford RIP

Frank was co-founder of Gryphon Stringed instruments in 1969, and from my point of view, was even better known as the writer of Frets.com a wonderful resource for all things related to instrument repair. We corresponded a few times and had a mutual love of engineering. A lot of us "older" guitar makers have come from engineering backgrounds,  it's a natural thing, what we do is "engineering in wood", which is just about exactly the way I regard it.

John Hobson

Well done, John, always good to see and hear you.

John's Website

Tijn Berends: The Amazing Shrinking Spinach

Tijn "leads the exciting double life of a climate scientist and musician"
What a combination! And who would have thought that harmonica and bouzouki were such a natural match?
You'll have to read the comments for an explanation of the title.

Tijn's Website

Chris Herring

Such a great player, composer and guitar maker, playing his dad's Fylde.

Jack Haig: Children

It's so interesting to see how harmonic playing has become a "thing" in recent years. I think it's mostly due to the massive improvement in playing standards, but without the quality of modern guitars it wouldn't work, plus of course, good amplification so that the inevitable quieter notes can actually be heard.

Check out Jack's tutorial for this piece.

Jack's Website

A very well-travelled, cold and almost drowned Mandolin

This must be the most travelled mandolin ever, and almost certainly the most adventurous.

It's had one visit to Antarctica with its first owner, a second visit with Steve Moorhouse, its' current owner, and has now visited the Arctic, as close as you can get to the North Pole. I have a video of Steve playing it but shot indoors because of the cold.

On the way back, it had a little trouble with a big wave and nearly had to swim. You can read all about that by checking the back issues of the Daily Mail.

Next year, it's going to the Amazon. I wonder if it will still be in tune.

Arctic Convoy Whisky

A fairly strong link to the previous item.

One of those situations where I really wish I hadn't opened the bottle. They won't be making any more of this, who knows what it might be worth one day? When will I learn?

Phil Hare RIP

Phil died a few days agoI was swapping email with him just before Christmas, so this was a massive shock, such a great and well-respected player.  His playing on this tune reminds me very much of Nic Jones, Phil knew just what his Orsino was intended for.
It's also lovely to see the tuning and playing style explained like this.
Sleep well Phil. 

Phil's Website

Put a sock in it

A bit more about the unusual guitar we showed last month. It should be finished, maybe even "on the road" in time for the next newsletter.

Soenke Meinen: The Lakes of Pontchartrain

Well done Soenke, lovely tune, great sound on your new guitar.

I see Soenke has recorded another tune already, but I can't feature him twice in one month, you will have to wait.

Soenke's's Website

Jule Malischke

While I'm in German mode, here's Jule's new single.

Jule is now performing with her new Fylde, so Im looking forward to seeing those videos, she truly is a magnificent player.

And here is her website. Which of course, is in German. She has been told! Jule's Website.

Jule with Peter Howarth

Jule and Peter recorded their parts for the 50-year Video on the same day at our local pub, and became good friends, they met up last week at a "Frontmen" concert in Dresden.

Bouzouki Comparison: Part 2

No comment needed.  Two very special but different instruments.

Ice Feathers

Wandering around the garden in the middle of a very cold spell, I spotted this, lying on the ground. I thought it was Owl feathers, we get a lot of those, but it isn't, its ice. Isn't it amazing? I can't work out how it formed this way, there was nothing else similar nearby. I left it outside in the cold and it lasted about three days, then of course, it melted. How sad.

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