2014 Archive

  • Ade Edmondson
  • St. Annes Music
  • Folk Awards at the London Collider
  • Captain Roger Bucknall : - Flying with a hangover
  • Donal Lunny’s Twozouki
  • Edward Tudor Pole
  • Italy
  • Fylde Guitar on Bobby Whitlock’s Piano
  • Talking about tone is like fishing about architecture
  • Ullapool
  • Meridian Audio
January: Ade Edmondson

Ade visited recently, along with Troy Donockley. Alcohol was consumed, curry was eaten, alcohol was consumed, magic tricks were performed, alcohol was consumed, and a strange instrument was ordered. It’s going to be fun. I think the camera had a few drinks as well - sorry about that.


January: St. Anne’s Music

There have been quite a few newspaper and TV features since the book was published. One of them was in the Blackpool Gazette, and prompted a phone call from the owner of a new music shop. The shop just happens to have opened in the building where I lived in St. Anne’s, and the basement where I started Fylde is now a recording studio! Link

Here I am playing Michael Chapman's guitar, in that basement, in 1973, complete with quite impressive hair. Sob sob. I still have that chair though.

How do I apply for a blue plaque on the wall?


March: Folk Awards at the London Collider

We've not been to the Royal Albert Hall before. Moira and I walked clockwise round the circular corridor for ages trying to find our seats, bumping into people who were walking anticlockwise trying to find their seats, and becoming firm friends by the time we had bumped into them three or four times. When we walked too fast we flew off into one of the cleverly spaced bars, and when we slowed down, we dropped into one of the "boxes” around the core of the machine, only to find that we were sitting next to the same people we sit next to every year, and who also travel from Cumbria - the laws of chance don't apply in the Small Folk Collider. The laws of Newtonian physics don’t apply either: we seemed to have gained mass, as the seats were far too small; time seemed to contract, as it was all over far too quickly; and light was distorted, as we didn't recognise people who we know very well.

There were frequent bursts of energy on stage, and even some light emitted from unknown sources, Moira managed to capture some of it in her box brownie.


March: Captain Roger Bucknall: Flying with a hangover

Next day I spent an hour in a Boeing 747 simulator. I took off from Heathrow, flew over the Lake District, landed perfectly well in Bora Bora; took off from Heathrow again (clever), and then crashed on St. Lucia; after which the simulator broke down, so I am still there. It’s very hot, and the rum punch is lovely.


June: Donal Lunny’s Twozouki

This just might be the most unusual looking instrument I have ever made. It’s a double neck bouzouki for Donal Lunny- a Twozouki. Donal had the idea; he mentioned it to Andy Irvine, who recommended me. The conversation probably went like this:

Donal - “Andy, (Showing Andy a scrap of paper with strange markings on it), do you know anyone completely mad who might be able to make this for me?”
Andy – “Oh, certainly, that would be Roger”.
Thanks Andy.

Two necks, with different scales, and two different tunings to avoid having to use a capo. The central “horn” is to take a strap that balances the instrument properly. Donal wanted the soundhole design, I wanted the head design. Compromise reached.

I needed something appropriate for the tailpieces, and a harp style worked very well, although maybe a little too much Guinness found its way into the design. The harps are “handed” to fit the curves, sawn and filed from 2mm brass then gold plated. I do like a bit of metal work from time to time. Metal doesn’t argue with me as much as wood.

The Twozouki has twin Headway Pickups, phantom powered via two EDM 2 units. I decided that having the necks join the body with angled joints would look rather clever. They do look good, but it wasn’t easy to get the neck alignment right. A tiny adjustment to one aspect of the joint threw all the other alignments completely out in ways that I hadn’t anticipated, so it was a “challenge”. Serves me right for not thinking it through, but to be fair to myself, if I did spend more time in planning, I’d never get anything made, at some point I just have to “jump in” and work things out as I go along. I think it was worth the effort though.


June: Edward Tudor Pole

Is “networking” the same thing as knowing a lot of people?? Every so often, somebody contacts me to tell me about someone else, and the net spreads even wider.

I received an email from an old friend - “I met Ed Tudor Pole last night, he’s a really nice guy but needs a bit of help with his ancient Fylde guitar” So I Googled Ed Tudor Pole, and was suitably impressed.

He came to visit; he’s a real gent, but just look at the guitar! Isn’t that the worst damage and still be playable that you have ever seen? Ed says it happened during various stage invasions in the Punk Era. It has never been repaired, just stuck together with Sellotape and Gaffa, and it still works!


June: Italy

I am determined to visit the "source" of the materials I use. This year Moira and I managed to be on the spot as this year’s crop of Italian Spruce was being cut into soundboards.I managed to select and buy some lovely wood while I was there.

The day after that we were given a private tour at the Museo Del Violino in Cremona. Stradivari, Guaneri and Amati Violins all in one room. Quite breathtaking. And the Stradivari Sabiona.

The Museum Director showed us hundreds of tools and patterns used by Stradivari.

The only people who think that the best instruments are made entirely without any mechanical aids are those who have never done it - here is just one of Stradivari’s little drilling machines and he really did use nails to hold the neck in position.

For even more homage and inspiration, we followed that with a trip to Venice to visit an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci's inventions.


July: Fylde Guitar on Bobby Whitlock’s Piano

I couldn’t think of a better title for a picture which features a Fylde guitar placed on top of a piano that is owned by Bobby Whitlock. If you think of one, don’t bother telling me.

Michael Proudfoot, who made the famous film about Nic Jones for the BBC, was in Memphis with his treasured Ariel guitar, and, staged this clever little shot. He hasn’t told me how it all came about, but that picture is going on my wall.


September: Talking about tone is like fishing about Architecture Frank Zappa, via Roger Bucknall)

Chris Plack is Professor of Audiology at Manchester University, and has organised the project in conjunction with for the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University.
All six “Experimental Guitars” are now ready. They are all based on the Falstaff design, and as near identical in every way except for the timber used for the back and sides. It has taken nearly a year to build these, because we had to be careful to work on all six exactly in parallel and keep any variation as small as possible. The Soundboards are all Sitka Spruce selected to be as similar as possible, the necks are cut from the same plank of mahogany and every component has been carefully matched at each stage.

The backs are Brazilian Rosewood, Indian Rosewood, Claro Walnut, Sapele. Honduras Mahogany, and Maple.

I have often noticed that people use different words to describe guitar sound, and that different makers describe timbers differently.

“The experiment will attempt to determine how the type of wood used in the back and sides of a guitar affects the perceived sound quality and playability of the guitar. So does Brazilian Rosewood sound different to Sapele, and if so, in what ways does it sound different?

We are also investigating what words people use to describe guitar sound quality, and how these words relate to the woods used in construction. For example, does a particular wood make a guitar sound as if it has more "clarity" than other guitars.

The unique aspect of this experiment is that the guitars will be identical in shape and weight, and will be played in a darkened room, so that participants won't be able to determine the wood used in construction based on looks or feel. We hope!”


October: Ullapool


Now Clive, listen. This little piggy went to market.


December: Meridian Audio

We have just spent two days in London.

I was asked to take part in a promotional video for Meridian Audio.

They needed someone to speak about craftsmanship and the importance of human beings rather than robots in making the highest quality products. Other than that, I have no connection with them whatsoever, and I can’t imagine what they typed into Google that made it come up with my name.

Despite me saying I was too busy, they insisted. I’m sure you understand my reluctance - why would anybody want a couple of days in London, shopping, seeing shows, filming in The Church Studio used by Bob Dylan, U2, Paul McCartney David Gray etc. I mean - who would?

Here I am, getting my make up done. Extra powder for shiny head.

And so Mr Booknail, I will ask you once again ...

Do you want to punch him, or shall I?

Practising insane toothy grin


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