Sunday, 17 January 2010
Anyway, everyone else has gone to bed, Mrs Dave is in London and I'm having a nightcap - a glass of The Isle of Jura's finest. And I'm thinking about guitars, as is my wont. Tonight I'm thinking about my Fylde.
I bought this guitar back in 1977 for the princely sum of £250 - for a 20 year old, that was a lot of beer vouchers. Very few of my friends would have afforded that at the time as they were still studying. Thanks to Mr Sunblest in Stevenage, I was able to afford this rather fine example of the luthier's art. I looked at the Fylde website the other day and saw that the same guitar would now set me back £1561 and that is a lot of beer vouchers. It still has the little orange sticker inside with the serial number: 593. For some reason I've tended to keep it in a case for the last few years, I guess because I've bought other guitars. I somehow manage to come back to this one, though. It is usually pretty well still in tune even if I haven't played it for a month or so. Not long before Christmas I restrung it (D'Addario phospher bronze - about .12 to .54 I think) and gave her a good clean - the neck needed some lemon oil. As I've got a cold I thought I needed a few Tunes. Every time I pick it up I wonder why I bother with anything else. I suppose a cutaway electro is easier to record and, being lazy, easier to play (my Yamaha has a neck like an electric). The neck width on the Fylde is .45mm whereas the Yammy is about .42mm - exactly the same as the red Strat. Yes, sad isn't it? I've actually measured the necks (even more geek-like you may need to know that these have been measured just below the nut).
Anyway, the Fylde website tells me that it's an Orsino model made from Honduras Mahogany with a Red Cedar top. I don't know whether mine is Honduras Mahogany but I'm sure the top is Red Cedar. The neck is also Honduras Mahogany with a Rosewood fingerboard - my favourite. Chrome-plated Gotoh machine heads and black and white purfling around the soundhole finish it off. However, my additions are the black scratchplate - lots of frenzied strumming back in the day - and a rather fetching scratch on the front. This was achieved by first born lurching across the room about 20 -odd years ago clutching a Lego brick and a malevolent look in the eyes. I also notice that nowadays a Hiscox case comes with your purchase. Luxury! My dear old mum bought me a guitar case for it (I've still got it) for my 21st birthday. The postman had brought the guitar in an old cardboard box.
I have written probably the best songs I've ever written on this wonderful example of Roger Bucknall's art (yes, including the one from a previous posting - it's the one that was leaning against the wall by my bed). Actually, I reckon this was one that was hanging around the factory when I ordered it. Mr Bucknall didn't seem too bothered when I phoned up to discuss it - a bit distracted really. I guess he was too busy dealing with Gordon Giltrap and Cliff Richards never mind about some whelp from Stevenage. But still, it was a handcrafted guitar! A beautiful machine that anyone who ever tries it falls in love with it. I've been offered various amounts for it over the years, but it definitely is NOT for sale. This is a life partner. I was going to put a pickup in it once, but because it's not a cutaway, I never bothered. As I said, I've got the Yammy for that. I really like the Yamaha ( a future posting will be about it) but I could live without it. I guess the Fylde is what I'll grab in the event of an emergency.
For fingerpicking this really is the business. And because it is now some 33 years old, it has matured wonderfully. There are a few surface cracks where it's dried out (thanks to central heating - for the first few years it wasn't a problem as my parents didn't have central heating) and I emailed Roger about it and he suggested I send it to him to sort out. What I actually did was buy a humidity device from the US of A. It was bizarre, it looked like a clarinet made by Salvador Dali - green and floppy. You soak it, squeeze it and then leave it in your guitar for a few days. The guitar seems to look much better after a bit of rehydration. You can hardly tell it got dried out.
As I said, it sounds wonderful. Very full sounding with a rich deep bass and responsive treble. Beautifully made, beautiful sounding. There are many fantastic luthiers out there but I really am happy with this. It has been part of my life for so long now, I can't imagine it not being there. It's a shame that the old vinyl album "Fylde Acoustic" isn't available on cd as it was a brilliant showcase for these instruments: Nic Jones, Gordon Giltrap, Michael Chapman, Vin Garbutt and many others were featured. I must get the ION record player gizmo out to see if I can record it to MP3.
Oh well, as Peter Green said. Bedtime. The whisky bottle is a 10 year old Jura that happened to be there by the Fylde when I took the photo. Any spelling mistakes . . .