Johnny is booking the odd gig with promoters who he's known for years - they book him knowing he may well have to cancel at short notice. His health is precarious, so going back on the road just isn't an option. If you get the chance to see him, go. He's world class. Next best thing - book a skype lesson with him.
We did a video years ago - Johnny isn't a technical teacher or player - it's all about feel.
The Premiervox is a Rickenbacker without the name. When they first came to the UK they put a PremierVox nameplate on for some reason. It was me Grandads. I never play it so I gave it to Johnny. The "horseshoe" pickup sounds great eh?
Not acoustic, I know, but Johnny is a great player. Here are a few videos of him at Fretmarks Music in Bedlington trying out some of the guitars they have.
Johnny has had a decent spell of health this year - they've finally got moved into a decent house, and he's spent much of the last year in the garden. Fresh air and not living in a damp house have helped him along greatly. Let's hope he stays well for as long as possible.
Skype lessons! If any of you would like a private Skype lesson with Johnny, drop me an email and I'll put the pair of you in touch.
Got a few Panama rosewood planks up on eBay. They are very nice and can be resawn into sets, bridge blanks, fretboards, uke sets. Owt you like! We are moving again at the end of the year and I'm having a clear out.
There is a nice hand bag up for sale too. The colour doesn't suit me.
looks awesome. Depending on where you ship to there might be issues even with the small amount of rosewood on that. Have heard some proper horror stories of recently shipped items being destroyed by ebay if they haven't got all the CITES stuff.
Destroyed by eBay? You mean by customs? Not really an issue for an 1890 CITES exempt guitar.
Ideal for a Parlour/Classical guitar - a mint, unused Hiscox Artis case - the posh ones they do. I bought this case a couple of years ago for a feller who ordered a Parlour guitar. I ended up canceling his order but I'd already bought the case. It's never been used and is brand new, still with the tags.
It's up on eBay for £260 including postage. If you'd like it, either send me an email or buy it through eBay.
I absolutely love the herringbone rosette and purfling.
Great sounding guitar.
That purfling is more or less what we used to do on Sobell guitars in the 80s. It was only seeing that first guitar I'd made (my old pal Paul owns it now) that I remembered how nice it is. So for the SKadv range, that's what I use - herringbone.
I can't stop listening to these. To me this is what a Celtic mandolin should sound like. Somehow it sounds bigger, like an octave mandolin, and I'm guessing this is the bigger body at work.
Ps. I LOVE the shirt 😉
That's the thing...these days there is no shortage of makers out there, there is so much choice for players, too much perhaps?
Some of you might remember that article I published on my blog - "What is a Celtic mandolin?" It put a few noses out of joint at the time, but the main motivation behind the piece was my frustration at how poor most Celtic mandolins were. I understand why - the Celtic mandolin market simply isn't worth much. The "top of the tree" is still Stefan, and I've no idea how much his mandolins are these days, but I doubt they are $24K like a Gilchrist. So there is little financial motivation for makers to really work on the design.
There is a "race to the bottom" just now amongst builders which is great news for players - makers are competing with each other to see who can do the most work for the least money. Such is the nature of competition in a saturated market. But competing on those terms just doesn't interest me. I don't make many mandolins, but when I do, these days, I think you get something pretty special. I've been making "Celtic" mandolins for nearly 30 years now. I'm not a beginner! To some extent, my older "Celtic" mandolin design was nice, but it was pretty much a Sobell "tribute act." It was only by going to meet, interview and spending time with other mandolin makers - like Steve Gilchrist and Rosta Capek that I could really see the limitations of the "Celtic" design. It was only then I could work out how to make these things perform better, whilst keeping the outward appearance in line with people's expectations.
I'm very happy with this design. I don't expect to make many though, as I realise there aren't that many folk in the "Celtic" world out there who are willing to pay a reasonable amount for what is just as much work as a guitar.
Nigel, I really liked the sound of the guitar on the video and I am sure that your playing helped bring out the inherent properties of the instrument. If you can make it to Halifax this year and the guitar hasn't been sold please bring it along.
It was made to order I'm afraid. Glad you like it.
That's gorgeous Nigel, is that one of your instruments? I have a Joe Foley mandolin made for me in 1992, if I was doing it again I would definitely have a wider fingerboard. I don't know if you remember but we met at the Holy Grail show last year and I invited you to Ireland. The invitation still stands.
Yes Malcolm, ofcourse I remember, we had a right old laugh. Ta for the invite. You going back to Berlin this year?
Sorry Nigel - I don't know why I typed "reduced thickness" as I put those words right after mentioning standard thickness being used.
What I had been trying to say was the standard thickness manufacturing route might also benefit from the virtues you were outlining. But I really shouldn't post on the forum that early in the morning especially after several nights of hardly any sleep in this hot house heat!
So I had thought the benefit the big manufacturer could get from less stiff and more responsive wood is that those accidentally good soundboards produced where standard measurements match the optimum will produce a better sounding guitar than now, and maybe some that would have sounded only pretty good will be improved enough to now be classed good. But having thought that through more I've realised if the raw material is more brittle as a result of the process and they keep their thickness measurements the same they will also likely get more warranty returns. So they would need to increase standard thickness a bit to balance it which would mean they won't get a higher % of good guitars. Just that those few that are good will be better than they once were.
There is no way they can match the skills used by the likes of yourself - in no way can a product made in a mass manufactured operation be made effectively on the basis of standard measurements where the raw materials are so hugely variable in their physical characteristics. In most manufacturing business sectors that particular manufacturing methodology used by guitar manufacturers would be an utter disaster!
I've seen videos of the sort of mass manufacturing process for acoustic guitars and it's not impressive. One in particular at PRS had laugh out loud moments especially when it came to how they tested the responsiveness of the guitar - a real joke. Especially after the seeing the routines proper builders go through to get the right soundboard.
Anyway - apologies for my failure to express myself properly.
Yeah, you may well me right. Some small shops like Borgeois use torrefied spruce, and their work is somewhere between solo and factory work, and I bet their torrefied top guitars are great. I think Alister Atkin is using it too. He makes a great guitar anyway, so with torrefied spruce, they may be even better.
I've only made this one so far, and I have one in the spray booth. But yes, I'm very impressed. It suits my SKadv guitars for sure, and it would also suit the Sobell style guitars I do. It's too brittle for a cylinder top though. I wouldn't even bother to try.
Very interesting video Nigel and I'd rather take your ideas about what this process is doing than what the marketing me are trying to get us to believe.
If I've picked you up right to me what you are saying suggests that those that manufacture in bulk using standard thickness's may be benefiting from the reduced thickness, extra fragility, and presumably increased responsiveness of the soundboard when torrefied. With the overriding problem always being there that a standard thickness will still only produce a relatively limited number of really good soundboards. But I guess they wouldn't want to market it that way as it suggests their existing guitars are not made as well as they should be.
I had found myself a bit detached from this question as I've found except on very rare occasions that I'm not that keen on the sound of sitka guitars, even if they've matured. Oh the heresy! I think I don't play in a way that suits stiffer wood, but on the basis of what you are thinking maybe this new breed will open up the possibilities of sitka spruce tops guitars being suitable for me .... if I can ever afford / justify another guitar.
But it's good to have your views on the subject. Up till now I'd regarded the glorification of the torrefication process with scepticism, like my view of how having "solid" wood bodies like swiss cheese on electric guitars like Gibson Les Pauls that suddenly became the "in thing" was more to do with scarce supply of lighter woods and cost cutting than it was to do with the sudden discovery of great improvements in sound put about by the makers.
Mark I'm struggling to understand the conclusions you've come to based on what I've said in the video. Torrification does not reduce a soundboards thickness. It reduces the mass and the strength and increases the hygroscopic stability yet also the brittleness. What thickness a soundboard is, is always down to the maker, whether the maker is an individual like me who thicknesses each top by flex and feel, or a machinist who puts them through the machine according to the instructions they have been given.
This is the thing - the awareness needed to gauge how thick, heavy and strong a soundboard needs to be is a tricky thing. For some it's a science, for some it's an art for some, it's both, for others, neither. Using torrefied wood doesn't solve this problem, the problem remains the same. So no less skill is needed. As I do say in the video - using torrefied wood is not a "cure-all." It's just another option. But' it's a good one, and not as hollow as many of the "fashionable" ideas which come and go.
minorkey: Yawning everyone...
Oct 12, 2017 7:20:48 GMT
walkingdecay: We had a new instructor for the tai chi sessions I attend and he was very keen to tell us to "break wind" at every opportunity, for the sake of internal health. I may have trouble with some of the most basic tai chi moves but that I can do like a pro.
Oct 16, 2017 7:34:25 GMT
Martin: Small victories I think I might also be a Tai Chi master in the making...
Oct 17, 2017 9:10:52 GMT
walkingdecay: I can honestly say it's benefited my old frame without ever feeling like real exercise. Even without the licence to, um, cleanse my chi.
Oct 17, 2017 13:00:12 GMT
walkingdecay: My old Yamaha DSR1000 keyboard had one end immersed in a flood and wasn't tried until I plugged in a power supply yesterday. It didn't really work of course, but it did gurgle a bit. Years of pent up flood trauma finally expressing itself, I suppose.
Oct 17, 2017 13:08:23 GMT
Martin: Oh dear. Did you record the 'gurgling'? That could be fun
Oct 17, 2017 13:11:45 GMT
davewhite: Cue for a performance of Handel's "Water Music" methinks
Oct 17, 2017 14:01:57 GMT
walkingdecay: Heehee! No encores I'm afraid, as it went to the dump yesterday. It gurgles alone. I actually feel a little guilty. It just seems wrong to dump a musical instrument, even one that doesn't work.
Oct 18, 2017 7:47:32 GMT
scorpiodog: Surely, Pete, if it doesn’t work, it’s no longer a musical instrument. It is an ex musical instrument, it is no more. It is deceased etc etc.
Oct 19, 2017 7:05:38 GMT
minorkey: It's an ex parrot
Oct 19, 2017 7:23:57 GMT