2015 Archive

  • Electric Bouzouki for Troy Donockley
  • Al Di Meola
  • The Decemberists
  • Selmer Guitar
  • Pixar and Fretboard Journal
  • Holden Guitar Collection
  • Bouzouki in Palestine
  • The Great Post It note mystery
  • Eighteen string guitar
  • BBC Folk Awards
  • Davy Graham and Bert Jansch. The Parting Glass
  • New Recruit
  • Richard Hawley
  • Sunny Afternoon
  • Very Big Ben
  • Cantankerous Old Git awarded MBE
February: Electric Bouzouki for Troy Donockley

How about a solid body, arch top (and back), electric bouzouki?? I think Troy was jealous of the twodolin that I made for Ade Edmondson.

The body and neck are largely made from old snooker tables, most of the colour shading was done with a gas flame, and it has two hollow chambers inside to reduce the weight, although I could pretend that they were designed to increase the body resonance. A Headway piezo pickup with onboard battery compartment, and a simple chrome plated brass tailpiece, just one of my regular excuses to work with metal for a change.

Watch out for it making lots of noise with Nightwish on their upcoming tour.

February: Al Di Meola

Adam also told me that he is due to interview Al Di Meola very soon, and that Al is selling one of his Fylde Guitars. Then a few days later, Al sent me a short video clip of him playing the guitar - "one of my favourite steel strings".

And here is a picture of me with Al, in the CBS studio in New York in 1979, probably discussing the design of that very guitar.

I am the one on the left. Look at that hair, and those muttonchops!

February: The Decemberists

Colin Meloy was in touch last year. Like a lot of US guitarists, he often quotes English players as sources and influence. One thing lead to another, well, a few emails lead to an order for a Falstaff, and now he is looking for another one!

The band looks amazing, although this track requires a little explanation. Quite bizarre to see an English guitar in something so "USA". Well done Colin.

March: Selmar Guitar

It’s slow, but I am making progress with this as well.  I’m using French Polish, which I love doing, but this time there seems to be something wrong with the Polish, and the tea tastes rather strange. 

March: Pixar and Fretboard Journal

Brian Saunders has been working for Pixar for some time, writing the documentation for  “Renderman” software - look it up!  I love the mementos in these pictures, including a script for “Toy Story”, and a 10-year award statue of Buzz Lightyear!

Now that he has a new guitar, Brian has decided to change jobs, and is now working for Fretboard Journal - the top quality “keepsake" guitar publication.Good luck to Brian, and to FJ.

March: Holden guitar collection

Sean and Paul Holden are related to each other, but I can’t remember how. I do know that they form a duo called “Cruel Folk”, and that they have a splendid collection of Fylde Instruments.

March: Bouzouki in Palestine

Tucked in amongst various missions and charitable projects around the world are small, almost invisible groups of people doing interesting, worthwhile things.  Unlike the large groups of very visible people doing very nasty, destructive things.

Stuart Graham is a member of one such small organisation, he plays bouzouki with “Ceilidhs without Borders”.

This picture was taken after a Ceilidh at Balata Refugee camp in Nablus, home of serious conflict during the last Intifada.

March: “The Great Post It Note Mystery”

At Celtic Connections in Glasgow this year, a few of our young friends decided to rehearse in a cupboard.  As you do. 

Elliott Morris, his brother Bev, Innes Watson, and Mike Vass needed a quiet space for a last-minute run through, and found a ‘no admittance’ Storeroom.  It was a tight squeeze, and Bev found this stuck behind a generator: it’s obviously a few years old, and I have absolutely no idea how it got there. 

The boys are now a bit twitchy and search behind everything, wherever they go, just in case I was there first.  It has even become part of their stage act-  “Just looking for Roger”.  That could be an album title.

May: Eighteen String Guitar

One and a half twelve strings.

Short scale, six courses of three strings, with an octave string either side of the note, so that up and down strokes produce a similar sound. I’ve made it for an old friend - Ron Cottam in Belgium, who I have known since about 1973. He was in a band called Lis Carroll with Rens Van Der Zelm.

It was a pleasure to make.  Part of the deal is a few YouTube clips, so allowing a few weeks for him to learn how to play it - watch this space.

May: BBC Folk awards

Ben and Josienne won the best duo category. Josienne’s voice was exceptional, and Ben’s fan fret guitar sound was gorgeous.  Well done both of you.

It’s rather nice to see the guitar being played in such a lovely venue, and filmed so nicely.  Real class in every sense. Thanks Beeb.

Lots of other stuff going on at the show of course - we had a good time. Our usual plan is to wander around and see how many friends we can bump into. Everyone else seems to do the same thing, so it’s a bit random but it does work. Moira says its called socializing.

There did seem to be a slight misunderstanding in the hospitality department - beer available for sale, bar staff willing to serve it, and customers wishing to buy it should all be in the same place at the same time. Two out of three doesn’t work.

June: Davy Graham and Bert Jansch. The Parting Glass

A full-length film of Davy travelling to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe with Bert in 2005. Half way through is a lovely bit of Davy applying for a job in my workshop, and me cheekily playing him a brief rendition of Anji. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.  Me playing for Davy - what about that?

The film includes many clips of Davy’s playing, some not seen elsewhere.  I knew it existed, I remember the day of the filming, but I hadn’t seen it before, and I am so pleased that it is finally available. Many of the scenes are from the Isle of Skye.

June: New recruit

This week I became officially old, and last week I became a grandfather, so now Moira and I have three granddaughters between us! Absolutely brilliant, thank you Charlotte and Patrick, welcome Niamh. Here she is at her first interview.  I asked her if that wood was Mahogany, and she blinked her eyes.  Correct! Isn’t that amazing for one so young

July: Richard Hawley

Richard Hawley came to visit last week; he needed a Headway pickup fitted to his new “Highly Strung” Alexander. He loves this guitar, it’s “all over” his new album "Hollow Meadows", to be released on 11th September. Richard’s visits are always fun - once again, we promised to organize a pool match, but once again, it hasn’t happened. I think he’s scared.

November: Sunny Afternoon

We have seen this show before, but this time we were invited by “Ray Davies”, otherwise known as Ryan O’Donnell, who is taking a break from Jethro Tull to play the part in this wonderful musical about the Kinks.

I even found myself on stage at one point, with Ryan and his lovely Fylde. I should explain that this was before the show started. If I had been given just the tiniest chance ...

We had a quick drink or two with the cast after the show, its part of the job.

November: Very Big Ben

After a slightly embarrassing X ray and security check, where I forgot about a penknife in my pocket, and I took my belt off as requested, which caused my trousers to fall down, I did manage to climb to the top of the Elizabeth Tower, where I met Ben, who is, indeed, very big, with magnificent engineering around him. The very next day, it was announced that 29 million pound needs to be spent on repairs. It was not my fault; I only wanted to see how it worked.

December: “The cantankerous old git” awarded an MBE

I've just realised there are a lot of pictures of me in this section, sorry: here's another one:-

Well - this was a shock.

Six weeks ago I received a letter with “OHMS” and "Cabinet Office" printed on the outside of it. Very worrying, I'd just got my driving licence clean again and I couldn't remember doing anything else wrong. I'm not going to tell you where I was when I opened the letter.

Apparently, at some future date, I have to go to Buckingham Palace, where I will be told that I am a "Member of the Order of the British Empire" that's MBE to all you lesser mortals. Then I get a medal pinned on my chest, probably by the Queen. Well I never.

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