Saturday, 26 March 2011
Successes and failures, a review.
Gary Holder accompanying me at Gary's Music Club
P=Playability S=Sound Q= Quality of finish
0=A huge disappointment 10=The best I could hope for.
Mosrite inspired copy 2001
On picking this guitar it feels a nice weight and indeed is well balanced both on my lap and hanging from the strap, the off set body is in fact very comfortable and the whole thing has a vintage feel about it. The only fly in the ointment is the block of walnut packing the neck up to the right height! The 1980's Eko neck feels smooth and the vintage Vox bridge is good for small Hank Marvin like wobbles but nothing more if you want tit to stay in tune! The sound form the P90 stly pick ups is Jazzy on the neck setting and twangy on the bridge to me it seems to sound a little one dimensional but then I am used to humbuckers. This is no out and out rocker but I can image it fitting in with a 60's cover band belting out the solo of Shaking all over by Johnny and Pirates!
"Lady V" 12 string 2004
I reached over to pick up this guitar and nearly fell of the chair! Wow what a weight! Every thing about is chunky, a big guitar with a big sound! If you were expecting any Rickenbacker chime you'd be disappointed but instead maybe bcz of the shorter Gibson length string scale the slightly slack feeling stings pack out a real punch with a far more acoustic sound than expected.. It's strung with octave strings at the bottom so when finger picked the bass strings are under your thumb.
The neck is wide but very stable and never has any problems with intonation. It has a super low action though some of the very top frets buzz, I shouldn't have listened to my teacher's advice about dishing the finger board out to create some "relief" it turned out to be total nonsense! The finish is generally fairly good until the light catches the top! A good workhorse and great stage guitar.
Mando Guitars 2005 & 6
I'll do these together as they have a shared history, or maybe that should be fiasco!
The first one was originally dyed blue and played very well with a low action sounding like a Stratocaster capoed on the 12 fret and on steroids! Believe it or not the bass was incredible! Unfortunately it didn't have a very good finish and blue dye prevented you seeing the pretty grain of the maple underneath.
On the back of this I got my first commission and built a duplicate, though this body had a top cap to keep construction simpler. I was out of work at the time so used the hardware from the first one hoping the replace it with the money from the sale, The finish on this instrument is the best I've ever achieved.
I didn't take a deposit and the sale fell through and thinking about it now was just as well, "Bluey" as the customer called it wasn't a patch on the first mando, the bass strings had no response at all! This was probably caused by two things ;A The scale was slightly shorter, I thought this was a good idea as the first one often broke E strings. B though the cap was extremely pretty quilted maple the wood was far too soft . Also despite it having a zero fret sounded out of tune at the nut.
After a while the first one was rebuilt and the dye (eventually) sanded out as I didn’t want two the same , I made two pickups from an old humbucker pickup I had around and I made it a home made bridge, it's OK and would sound good in a mix but not the same as it was, I can't bring myself to pull apart Bluey as it looks so pretty and have restrung it as kind extended range double stringed ukulele!
One day when funds permit will put the original one back as it was. back in 2005.
P9/5 -S10/6- Q4/5
The Les Pew 2007
This thing feels weird! Despite having a PRS scalier length because the neck is set so deep into the body (14th fret) it's like someone cut it down and it's as fat as a baseball bat! After you get used to it it becomes obvious how versatile this rather crude stubby looking guitar really is, it has a long sustain and and it’s semi hollow construction gives it a mellow sound which can play Jazz but put it on the bridge pick up and it becomes an out and out rock axe! The truth is comfort and top fret access has been sacrificed for clarity and articulation, which is also helped, by the through strung bridge, pinched harmonics work really well. I designed it to suit my own playing style it does this perfectly; this is the guitar I play the most.
A bit of nonsense really, salvaged from the wreck of an English banjo with a broken neck. It works fine with some chords and is next to useless with others! Would probably work better as a ukulele. Suffers from the same problem as the mandos in that the corner of the headstock digs into your hand if you play an open B7 or similar chord.
Headless Bass 2008
I wish I was a better bass player! It's light, well balanced and the sound is ten times better than the Westone guitar that the bolt on neck came from. The active electronics work well as do the tuners .I have lent it to semi pro bassist Garry Holder to accompany me on stage and he really like it. It’s my bestengineered design, shame I don't play it much.
Cigar Box Ukulele 2009
At first glance you wouldn’t expect too much from this instrument. But I have tested it against ukes costing several hundred pounds and compared to some I actually prefer it’s more mellow sound! In comparison the cheap Chinese instruments are next to useless! A totally unexpected success!
Didley bow 2010
How much can you expect from a plank of wood with a single string stretched across it? The output from the improvised pick up is a little low but it sounds like the real deal and the colour coded screw heads help you stay in tune! Cost £2.50 for the tuner.
Mountain Dulcimer 2011
I’ve played prettier sounding dulcimers (in my local folk music shop) but it is my first fully acoustic instrument (barring cigar boxes!) and it’s perfectly good for a plywood instrument costing about £30 to make, it’s got me totally hooked!