July 2016: I'm delighted to announce that the winner of the Acoustic Soundboard Young Acoustic Guitar Musician's Competition 2016 is the talented singer songwriter Kitty Macfarlane . Here's Kitty receiving her prize "Sahmradh" guitar from me at Halsway Manor:
April 2016: Two instruments to add to my De Faoite Anniversary Instruments collection - one new and one reborn - both using wood from a Lawson's Cypress tree cut down in my front garden. First is a flamenco guitar using a Santos Hernandez shape called "El Xiprer":
Second is the fourth instrument I made back in 2004 called "Suzanna" re-born as a piccolo guitar:
You can read more about them and listen to some recordings here on the website.
March 2016: Here's a couple of banjos I recently completed. First an A scale fretless five string open back banjo called "Llinos" - the Welsh for linnet - for Matt Rowland:
It has a 630mm scale length; an 11" pot, American Black Walnut rim capped with Padauk; an American Black Walnut neck with Dobson style heel; American Black Walnut dowell stick; a brass tone ring; calf skin head; an Ebony fingerboard with frailing scoop; Padauk headstock veneers and end grafts, nickel silver hardware provided by Matt and Gotoh tuners with ebony buttons. The tailpiece is a Rickard no knot one. For the 5th string I used a partial fret where the 5th fret of a 630mm scale would be with a banjo capo spike behind as a string guide. Matt also wanted to capo the 5th string at the 7th fret and so I made a similar arrangement there - not sure if this has been done before on fretless banjos. Annoyingly Matt is a very talented young Welsh multi-instrumentalist playing guitar, melodeon, whistle and fiddle as well as great banjo and is trying to use and develop traditional Welsh tunes. He kindly did some recordings for me on "Llinos" including one Welsh one "Morfa'r Frenhines" - "The Queen's March" in gEADE tuning.
Next a mandola/mandolin multi-scale Harp banjo, "Father Jack" made for Joe Wadsworth:
It's an 11" open backed banjo with a Birdseye Maple rim capped with Macassar Ebony; a Birdseye Maple/Macassar Ebony three piece neck; a Macassar Ebony tone ring; calf skin head; a Macassar Ebony fingerboard and chrome fittings and tuners. The main neck has multi-scale lengths of 375-410mm and five courses of paired strings in GDAE tuning and there are four sub-bass strings with 600-630mm scale lengths. You can see a photo documentary of "Father Jack" being made here.
November 2015: The competition I'm running in conjunction with the Acoustic Soundboard Forum for young acoustic guitar musicians wanting to pursue a professional career has reopened. The prize is a Lutz Spruce/American Black Walnut "Samhradh" guitar:
October 2015: The eighth of my De Faoite Anniversary Instruments is a tenor banjo "An Muc Screadail" - "The Screaming Pig". It has a 530mm scale length, a calf skin head with 11" rim diameter, a Birdseye Maple rim capped top and bottom with Macassar Ebony and an Birdseye Maple neck. It has a brass tone ring and nickel hardware.
Here's a video of Joe Wadsworth playing "Carolan's Concerto" on "An Muc Screadail":
August 2015: James Daubney picked up his new "Treebeard" baritone guitar. It's a 720-730mm multi-scale with cutaway and Manzer style wede in European Spruce and Sapele. I look forward to hearing James play it in concert next month:
July 2015: I've added a 12 string guitar to my range "An Tairneanach Mór" which is Gaelic for "The Big Thunder".
March 2015: Once again in conjunction with the Acoustic Soundboard Forum I'm running a competition for young acoustic guitar musicians wanting to pursue a professional career and a Lutz Spruce/American Black Walnut "Samhradh" guitar will be the prize. You can find out more and how to enter here on the Acoustic Soundboard Forum. The winner of the first competition in 2013 was James Daubney.
January 2015: Happy New Year to everyone. My New Year got off to a good start watching this video of Matt Rowland playing his "Buachaill Mór" at BEAM 2014, Anglesey, Wales in September 2014:
December 2014: James Daubney has a fabulous new EP "Breaking Through" out with five great new compositions. It's available here on iTunes. Here's a video of James Daubney playing the title track from the EP "Breaking Through":
September 2014: The sixth of my De Faoite Anniversary Instruments has been completed. "VictorM" is a five string open back banjo and has a vellum grade calf skin head with 11" rim diameter, an English Walnut rim capped top and bottom with Anjan and an English Walnut neck. It has a brass tone ring and raw brass hardware together with Gotoh tuners. It also has a De Faoite adjustable neck system. Read more about it here on the website:
Short for Victor Meldrew (as in "I don't believe it") it was a surprise gift for Martin Robertson from grateful Acoustic Soundboard Forum members in appreciation of Martin's work in creating and running the Forum and organising the annual September meet up. It was presented to him at he the fifth meeting in Halifax on 26th September 2014 Halifax. Here's a surprised and delighted Martin receiving his new banjo:
August 2014: The fifth of my De Faoite Anniversary Instruments has been completed. "An Tairneanach Darach Beag" - "The Little Oak Thunder" the closest in Gaelic I could get to "Baby Boomer" - which has top, back, sides and neck from the same chest of drawers as "An Tairneanach Mór". This is my take on a fretless bass ukulele in the style of the Kala Ubass instruments. Read more about it here:
August 2014: The fourth of my De Faoite Anniversary Instruments has been completed. "An Tairneanach Mór" which is Gaelic for "The Big Thunder" is a 660mm scale length ladder braced 12 string guitar with tailpiece and floating bridge. It has a Lutz spruce top and English oak back, sides and neck that came from a chest of drawers. You can listen to me playing this guitar in Bb F Bb Eb F Bb tuning (the same intervals as DADGAD) with my own composition "Raptor Windfall". Read more about the instrument here:
March 2014: The third of my De Faoite Anniversary Instruments has been completed. "Cailin Beag" which is Gaelic for "Little Girl" is a 375mm scale length Concert sized ukulele essentially made with the bits left over from making "An Féa Caol". Read more about it here:
March 2014: Here's Jonny Moss playing Phil Keaggy's "County Down" on "Lughnasa":
January 2014: Happy New Year to everyone. James Daubney has a new video of one of his compositions "In Good Time" from his EP available on iTunes. Check out his website.
December 2013: Happy Christmas to everyone and what better way to get in the mood than to listen to Keith Chesterton play some Carols on "Ceol Binn Mór".
December 2013: The second of my De Faoite Anniversary Instruments has been completed - a Mountain Dulcimer called "Sparrowhawk" and you can read more about it here on the website.
November 2013: This year, 2013, it will be ten years on since I built my first guitar and 2014 will be the tenth anniversary of De Faoite Stringed Instruments so I'm going to be making some special and some different/oddball instruments as time allows over the next year or so and will feature them here on the website.
November 2013: I've added two new instruments to my range. Firstly "An Féa Caol" - "The Slender Beech" - which can be either be used as a Parlour guitar or tuned three semitones higher as a Terz guitar. This one has a Western Red Cedar top with figured Pear back, sides, neck, bridge and fingerboard together with Macassar ebony bindings. You can listen to me playing this guitar as a Terz in FCFBbCF tuning (the same intervals as DADGAD) with my own composition "An Féa Caol" with the Capo at the fifth fret - equivalent to DADGAD Capoed at the eighth fret.
Secondly "An Torman Mór" - "The Big Rumbling" in Scots Gaelic - a Baritone style acoustic lap slide guitar with a 724mm scale length. The one shown here is English Walnut top, back sides. Designed to be tuned down to Bb it has a deep growling resonant sound. Here's a recording I made on this guitar of my own composition "Where Worlds Collide there are Mountains" in Bb F Bb Bb F Bb tuning (same intervals as DADDAD):
I've also added audio files with the pronunciation of my instrument names on the main page of each instrument group.
October 2013: Here's a video of James Daubney playing his own composition "Downpour" at a recent gig at Nether Stowey, Somerset on the "Samradh" guitar he won as "Acoustic Soundboard Young Acoustic Guitar Musician 2013". James has a new EP available on iTunes on 29th October so check out his website.
July 2013: I've added a flat top Octave Mandolin to my range. "Ceol Binn Mór" ("Big Sweet Music") is a flattop octave mandolin developed in conjunction with Keith Chesterton and designed with a guitarist in mind. It has a 530mm scale length, a wide nut and has guitar sized fretwire. The instrument illustrated has a European spruce top and Colombian Rosewood back and sides. I put a little recording together using this instrument - open strings followed by Martin Simpson's "Air for Maurice Ogg" in GDAD tuning. You can see a photo-documentary of "Ceol Binn Mór" being made here.
July 2013: I had the great pleasure of presenting the winner of the Acoustic Soundboard Young Acoustic Guitar Musician's Competition 2013 - James Daubney - with "Samhradh". James is a very talented young guitarists who you'll hear a lot more of in the future. Check out his website.
June 2013: I currently have one of my mandolins - "Ceol Binn Taistealaí" or "Sweet Music Traveller" - on a Road Trip for members of The Acoustic Soundboard Forum. The mandolin, has a European spruce top with Bubinga back and sides and Maccassar ebony bindings and spends three weeks or so with each participant who make recordings/videos and write a review. You can follow the Road Trip's progress here.
May 2013: I had a great time at the East Anglia Guitar Festival on Sunday 5th May where Keith Chesterton and Mark Thomson helped me out on the stand. Mark played a short set in the marquee in the evening to showcase my instruments and it was recorded by Keith Chesterton and Mike Floorstand and edited by Keith:
April 2013: I'm re-naming my "Samhain Cheltenham" model "Samhradh" which is the Gaelic for summer and pronounced Sow-roo or Sow-rah. I've changed the shape of my cutaway slightly. "Samhradh" is a short scale Grand Concert sized guitar with thirteen frets clear of the body:
In conjunction with the Acoustic Soundboard Forum I'm running a competition for young acoustic guitar musicians wanting to pursue a professional career and the European Spruce/Bubinga guitar pictured here will be the prize. The guitar will be on display at my stand at the East Anglia Guitar Festival on Sunday 6th May.
March 2013: I'm going to be exhibiting again this year at the East Anglia Guitar Festival on Sunday 5th May at Great Bardfield, Essex and Keith Chesterton and Mark Thomson will be there with me to help out and demo my instruments during the day. There's a great line up of exhibitors covering steel string, classical, ukulele and electric, a great series of Workshops during the day including the chance to make your own cigar box guitar with Chickenbone John and an enticing line up for the evening concerts - all for £12 in advance £14 on the day. If any of you fancy a day out pop by and say hello.
February 2013: I've decided to write a series of articles sharing my views and philosophies that guide and form the way I make acoustic steel string instruments. I'll be aiming to add an article a month and you can read them here. I'm also posting them in the Acoustic Soundboard Forum which is a great place to talk about acoustic guitars and their music - check it out here.
January 2013: Happy New Year and here's some more harp guitar madness. Here's my arrangement of the Christmas Carol "Personent Hodie" and my own composition "Thingy" played by the Three Harpie Musketeers - Keith Chesterton, Mark Thomson and myself - with Keith playing my Tertz Parlour "Fimbrethil", Mark playing my Baritone "Fangorn" and me playing my Grand Concert "Samhain Fada Láhm". This is a "virtual performance" the three parts were recorded seperately and mastered by Keith. Martin Robertson put together the video:
December 2012: With Advent upon us here's Keith Chesterton's arrangement of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" played on my Tertz Parlour Harp Guitar "Fimbrethil":
October 2012: Jonathan Moss came to stay for a few days and took lots of photos. He and his wife Helen kindly put together an e-book tour of some of my instruments and my workshop:
September 2012: I have finally finished "Fimbrethil" a Parlour sized Harp guitar with six sub-bass strings using a floating bridge and she made her debut at the AcousticLife Forum Meeting in Halifax. Fimbrethil will be spending time with Keith Chesterton in Devon as part of a De Faoite Harp Guitars CD recording project over the next year or so and my baritone harp guitar will be with Mark Thomson in Scotland as part of the same project:
At the Halifax meeting Keith launched his new "Butterfly" book containing transcriptions of 17 of his original compositions together wit a CD and DVD of the pieces played on the Road Trip II guitar Féileacán Taistealaí. Here's a photo of me, Keith, Mark and FT at the launch:
May 2012: I have added "Buachaill Mór" (Gaelic for "Big Boy") to my line of guitars - it's my take on a Modified Dreadnaught originally developed by American maker Ervin Somogyi. You can read more about it and listen to some sound clips here.
I have also taken the opportunity to rationalise the range of guitars and guitar bouzoukis that I offer around a number of different body sizes and have updated the website to reflect this as well as adding a flattop mandolin to my range.
"Buachaill Mhór" made his debut at the East Anglia Guitar Festival on Sunday 6th May. I had a number of instruments on display and had a great time - I'll certainly be going back next year:
March 2012: I have just completed my first mandolin "Ceol Binn" ("Sweet Music") with Lutz Spruce top and English Walnut back, sides and neck:
February 2012: On Sunday 6th May I'll be exhibiting at "The East Anglia Guitar Festival 2012" at Great Bardfield near Braintree Essex. I look forward to seeing you there.
December 2011: Here's my arrangement of "The Coventry Carol" in DADGAD played on my little Caucasian Spruce/African Blackwood "Féileacán". Have a Cool Yule and a great New Year.
August 2011: Mark Williams in America just sent me this video of him playing his song "Dig My Way" on the "Daithi" I made for him at a recent house concert. Mark has just released a new CD and is hoping to be able to come and tour in the UK soon:
July 2011: July's edition of Acoustic Magazine (Issue 55) has an article in it about the Road Trip project. Following the success of last year's Road Trip I have made two guitars that from now until December will be going on Road Trip II around the UK being tried out by members of The Acoustic Life Forum. You can find out more about it here.
June 2011: In March I completed a baritone harp guitar "Fangorn" designed to be tuned in DADGAD intervals but tuned four steps down, together with four sub-bass strings. You can read more the instrument on my Harp Guitar pages and listen to sounclips there. Here is one of me playing my arrangement of the Beatles "Strawberry Fields" in C B Ab Eb Bb F Bb Eb F Bb tuning:
March 2011: To mark my 50th guitar I have a new model "Féileacán Jubilee". This has the same body as "Féileacán" but a shorter 630mm scale length, slotted headstock and 12 frets clear of the body. The guitar illustrated is Engelmann spruce/Sapele and you can listen to me playing my take of Laurence Juber's arrangement of "Yesterday" on it in DADGAD tuning.
December 2010: Happy Christmas - here's a couple of Christmasy things, first my version of "Gaudete" played on "Féileacán" and then American singer-songwriter Mark Williams song "Born in the Night" played on the "Daithi" I made for him.
August 2010: I have remodelled my "Butterfly" model to a smaller shape and re-named it "Féileacán" - the Gaelic for Butterfly. In size it is similar to a Martin O guitar and is a great responsive fingerstyle instrument that can also be strummed. You can listen to me playing Ken Nicol's "I.H" in DADGAD tuning Capo 3 on my own multi-scale Caucasian Spruce/African Blackwood model:
April 2010: I have made a guitar that over the next year will be going on a Road Trip around the UK being tried out by members of The Acoustic Life Forum. You can find out more about it here.
(Photograph by Keith Chesterton)
Here's a video of me introducing and playing "Samhain Taistealaí":
January 2010: After selling my first Harp guitar to Dale Campbell I've finally got around to making myself another one. This one is Grand Concert sized and is called Samhain Fada Láhm - he has a Lutz Spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Here's a recording of me playing my own composition "Winter Sun" on him:
Here's a video of me "struggling" to play him:
October 2009: I have just got back from The Irish Centre in Camden, watching Tad Sargent play at the Saturday concert at the Return To Camden Town Festival using the guitar bouzouki I made for him. Fabulous gig - Tad has real talent and is one to watch for the future:
July2009: I have added Doolish, a six string tenor, guitar to my range. Find out more here:
June 2009: At last I'm a luthier ! With guidance from master maker Colin Symonds I have made Eggbert - a Heiber 8 course lute copy in European spruce with African Walnut bowl, neck and peghead. Here's a recording of me playing Eggbert.
March 2009: I have added a multiscale Taropatch Harp Ukulele, Ferdinand to my harp guitar range:
15th September 2008: I just got back from the Cheltenham Acoustic Guitar Show where I finally met up with harp guitar maker Stephen Sedgwick where we got to compare harp guitars - his was fabulous looking and sounding and bigger than mine:
Dale Campbell - an upcoming young player - made this video of his visit to the show which has clips of him playing Stephen's and my harp guitars and a travel cittern of mine:
The prize guitar was presented by Gordon Giltrap to the happy winner Mike Snowden:
I took nine instruments for display including the prize guitar:
Joe Bardwell played a demo for me with his Daithi guitar together with a fabulous Manchester fiddler Emma Sweeney (who has played with the Mike McGoldrick Band). They were fabulous and it was the first time I got to hear the guitar with the K&K pickup - it was fabulous sounding:
Kevin Brown - a great slide player that played a Masterclass made my and Martha's day by playing the lap-slides:
Cheltenham Acoustic Guitar Show, 13/14th September 2008.
Along with other top British makers I will be exhibiting again this year at the Cheltenham Acoustic Guitar Show at Cheltenham Town hall on 13/14th September. If you are attending then please drop by and say hello. In September 2007 I exhibited here as my first show for handmade guitars. There are a number of these events in the US but nothing like them in the UK and this was the first of its kind. This was the vision and creation of three individuals - Phil Davy, Paul Hayden and Matthew Haynes and had such a lovely atmosphere that I wanted to help this show develop and become an annual fixture so I offered to make a guitar that could be used to help promote and advertise the 2008 show and that could be won by one of the guitar playing public attending the show. The guitar is a Samhain Cheltenham model in European spruce and curly Narra and was the prize in a competition run by Guitarist magazine and will be presented to the lucky winner at the show: