Road Trip Guitar - Samhain Taistealaí

Working as a relatively new maker of stringed instruments it is very hard to find opportunities where players get the chance to try out my instruments. These are win-win opportunities as the player gets the chance to try a different instrument and as a maker I get some very valuable feedback that helps develop my instruments (good or bad it all helps and usually the bad helps the most even though it hurts a little at the time). I always keep an open welcome so that players can visit and play/chat but distance and location are obstacles. Guitar shows like Cheltenham are a good opportunity but it's not easy to hear and respond to the instrument in noisy and busy surroundings. Another way that I have seen done in America is a Road Trip Guitar. Here's how it works - the guitar maker makes an instrument and asks for players interested to take part. A "player chain" is formed based on geography and the instrument shipped to the first player in the chain who has it for a set period of time. They then ship the instrument on to the next in the chain and provide a review of the instrument and if possible a recording - this gives me the feedback and lets me see how the instrument responds to a range of different player techniques and styles of music played. If the chain is long enough then a "pit stop" with the builder is scheduled to setup the guitar again for any effects of its travels and send it on again.


I floated this idea with players on the Forum of "Acoustic Magazine" - a British publication -  and currently have just over twenty participants. At two weeks a stop plus shipping this will be a long haul. The guitar was made over in March/April 2010 and will its "Road Trip" will take place over the period April 2010 to March 2011. As all of my instruments have a name this one is going to be Samhain Taistealaí - "Samhain the Traveller". This is my Grand Concert sized "Samhain" model and is a multi-scale instrument with 630-660mm scale lengths and a side soundport. Back and sides are Columbian Rosewood (Dalbergia tucurensis) that I got from Joel Thompson, European Spruce top, Malaysian Blackwood bindings, headstock veneers, fingerboard, bridge, end-graft and heel cap and a sycamore (maple) neck.


(Photograph by Keith Chesterton)


(Photograph by Mark Thompson)





A photo-documentary of making Samhain Taistealaí can be seen here, and reviews and recordings from Road Trip participants region by region can be seen by selecting from the sub-menu.