Road Trip I Reviews and Recordings - South Coast

July 2010: Paul, Dorset

 

 

Here are three recordings that Paul has made with "The Traveller" - Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle", "High Barbary" and "Bus Stop". A couple more - "The Book of Love" in standard tuning Capo 3, and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" Capo 7. You can find Paul's other recordings of "Cousin Jack", "The Tower Song", "Pancho and Lefty", "Four Tunes from Hold Down a Chord". "The Streets of Forbes", "Roxanne", "Lovin' You", "Perfect Day" and "The Blower's Daughter" here on Paul's Soundclick Band Page.  Here's Paul's review:

 

"Appearance: This guitar is beautifully proportioned and extremely nicely made. The very pale top contrasts beautifully with the back and sides. Appointments are high quality and not brash. At first I wasn't sure about the sycamore neck, but over the fortnight I started to like it more and more. I'm a big fan of the oversized soundhole. I think it's very distinctive and attractive The multiscale arrangement always looked strange, to my eyes, creating a false perspective the makes the guitar look like it's sloping away towards the bottom. I didn't get used to it over the fortnight, and every time I opened the case it looked peculiar. However, I got used to the sound port almost immediately. I quite like looking into the body of the instrument, especially one that's put together as competently as this. I guess smell is part of appearance, and this guitar has a most beautiful smell. This must be enhanced by the soundport which is just under your nose as you play. I wasn't keen on the shape of the heel of the guitar. It seems quite bulky and the 4 elements of the heel can be easily seen. But this is just a churlish niggle. It doesn't get in the way, and is (as is the rest of the guitar) beautifully made. The tuners are a delight to use. There were some occasions when I found that a string winding would slip across the saddle (with a ping!) and knock the tuning out by a few cents. I don't think it was to do with the tuners at all, actually. I'd lay the blame at the string break angle at the saddle. But it's a tiny thing really.

 

Playability: I found the guitar very comfortable to play as long as I was sitting upright on a hard chair. Sitting on a sofa playing, I needed to put a cushion under my leg to keep the guitar in a comfortable playing position. The body is not too deep and therefore very comfortable. The neck feels good in the hand. I found that after playing for about 20 minutes the neck developed a sort of stickiness. A bit of a hard rub with the microfibre cloth supplied sorted that out, but the stickiness would come back again after continued playing. I have no idea what caused it. I've never had it happen on a guitar before. Before I played the guitar, I was a bit worried about the multiscale and, in particular the slanty frets. However, I found that my fingers naturally found the correct places (well as often as they do on any guitar!!!) and that the guitar was comfortable to play. The string spacing was fine for me as was the neck width.

 

Sound: Oh Boy! Silky sounding. Wonderful balance across the strings. Sustains til next Tuesday. Incredibly versatile instrument seems equally at home strummed, picked, whatever. Very lovely especially when played with lots of open strings and when notes are let ring. Variations in left hand pressure, vibrato, picking strength, right hand positioning are all immediately noticeable, which allows for expressive playing if you have the technique. But beware making errors! An accidentally touched string, or a bit of off positioning on a fret are immediately noticeable. This guitar doesn't forgive or reward bad playing. I found that this added discipline to my playing. I found myself shouting at myself quite often, but it made me play much more carefully than usual. The sound is so very resonant and complex, that I found myself playing much more slowly than usual, and this helped a bit with the accuracy, too. You can almost bathe in the sound and the vibration against your body. And, of course, the soundport enables you to take utmost advantage of this. The guitar is really versatile. I mostly fingerpick and I found that it picked up every nuance of my picking. I flatpick very little, but I did have a try and found that it seemed to enjoy being driven quite hard. The tone seems to change when played hard, but it doesn't become mean, more moody, if you see what I mean. When strummed, it's not roary at all as a dreadnought would be. But it takes quite well to a strum, although it's a bit wasted then.

 

Conclusion: This is a really lovely guitar to look at, play and hear. There are very few cons and many, many pros. If I was about to commission a guitar, I would certainly consider De Faoite Stringed Instruments. I'm uncertain whether the multiscale is necessary for my type of playing, I don't use dropped tunings. In fact I use a guitar almost exclusively as an accompaniment for singing. So I think if the choice was mine I'd have a conventional scale. The sound port and slightly oversized soundhole are good innovations, in my opinion. I don't have the knowledge to comment on the build or construction other than to say the whole thing just looks and feels ....right!!! But the sound. Oh the sound. Really. Beyond words."

 

August 2010 - Ian, Southampton

 

 

Ian was out and so his Mother-in Law took delivery. Here's the traveller settling in:

 

 

Here's a video of Ian's first "noodlings":

 

 

Here's another of Martin Simpson's "She Slips Away/Mother Love":

 

 

Here's Ian's review:

 

Introduction: Some background banter before I dive in with a review and, by the way, I am not a seasoned reviewer of guitars, though I have played a fair few. I've been playing guitar since around late teens, though never particularly seriously until fairly recently. I decided to re-visit steel string acoustic guitar about six or seven years ago but was unimpressed with the Martin 00028 I had at the time. Neck far to narrow and a very uninspiring sound. A trip to TAMCO at Brighton brought a Collings 002H into the house. I've since moved on and my current line up comprises the 002H, another Collings, a 0001ASB, a Sobell Model 0 Brazilian, a Sobell MS Signature MKII and a Brazlian Bown OM. I only play for my personal enjoyment and have abosultely no aspiration to make a fool of myself in public except after far too many glasses of red in which case no instrument is necessary. So here we go...

 

Appearance/ Fit & Finish: For me a little mixed. I like the body size and shape a lot which make it a very comfortable guitar to play. In particular I like the slightly larger sound hole which gives it the "Clarence White" look. The soundport grew on me and certainly makes a difference in terms of what the player hears from the instrument. I like also the rosewood sides and back. The sycamore neck I found to be not as aesthetically pleasing along with the stacked heel and the neck felt ever so slightly rough in places whilst playing. Mixed views on the headstock, I prefer cleaner lines personally, though quite liked the sandwich effect. Where the nut is slotted in seems a little untidy to me and to a couple of others who saw the guitar during its stay here. I am paticularly fond to Gotoh tuners so have no issues here. As far as the finish goes I would prefer a finish that looks less "homemade". I say this without meaning to be condescending at all. I simply don't like a satin finish on a guitar and agree with another comment that it seems to give it a sort of prototype look. The finish on my Sobells and the Bown was done by David Wilson who frankly does a superb job, although I realise that a third party finishing process is only going to ratchet the end user price up. The fanned frets continued to look peculiar throughout the instrument's stay here. I prefer ebony fingerboards.

 

Playability: Frankly, very impressive. I really have no serious issues here at all except possibly the fact that applying a capo needs an obvious bit of extra attention owing to the fret angle. As far as fingering is concerned, I adapted to the fanned frets very quickly indeed. The nut width is about perfect for me and my fat fingers and the string spacing at the saddle was perfectly fine for right hand work.

 

Sound: So now we come to the "je ne sais quoi" part of the process. I am very impressed with the sound of this guitar. Great separation and articulation and highly responsive which coupled with the great playability make it a real pleasure sit down with. I found it to be pretty versatile too, sounding equally good in various tunings with or without a capo anywhere on the fingerboard. The overall tone was also very impressive, particularly given the realatively young age of the instrument. Compared to my Sobells and the Bown it does lack some of that ultimate ummph which I'm looking for. But it is unfair to compare ST with a Sobell. Dave refers, quite rightly, to Stefan as "The Master", and for that particular sound he is. The Bown is also a very special instrument with a wonderful tone and balance, but again built using premium tonewoods.

 

Conclusion: The fact that this guitar was out of the case a whole lot during its stay here more or less speaks for itself. During its stay I had a young friend, who is known to SteveH, around for a play. Chris (Whitfield) ws also very impressed with the sound and playability and I was able to hear it from the front, so to speak. As far as bang for buck, this has got to be one of, if not THE best guitar I've played at this price point. So much hat doffing to Dave who has built a really lovely instrument. Thanks too for the opportunity to play it. Much gnashing of teeth as far as my video camera goes, which is currently back with Canon for servicing and repairs.

 

August/September 2010: Rob, Southampton

 

 

Here are some videos that Rob has done and he explains.

 

"Rye Whisky/The Old Bush" - a couple of tunes I usually rattle off when I'm trying out guitars in the shops. They are both in Dadgad:

 

 

"Sleeping Tune" - this one I'm trying to learn at the moment, a rather wonderful bagpipe tune by Gordon Duncan. On a video McManus tells the rather funny story of how the tune came into being, with Gordon having drunk the bottle of Whiskey prize he had won in a piping competition, only to wake up the next morning with (apparently) this tune fully written. Seems too nice to have been written in a paralytic state. This is in CGCGCD tuning Capo 2nd fret:

 

 

"The Ramnee Ceilidh" in CGCGCD tuning Capo at 2nd fret:

 

 

Another tune, this time in CGCFCD. It is Martin Simpson's 'Kits Tune/ When a Knight Won his Spurs". I chose this because its shows off the upper end of the Traveller, which I think is rather lovely. It has a nice 'fruity' tone all the way up the neck and all notes are nicely balanced I think. Sorry again for the poor recording quality. I may well record this 'properly' when I've got my mics.

 

 

The first song "Prelude" is a composition of mine. I wrote it some years ago for a production of Romeo and Julliet. It accompanied the famous balcony scene and I wanted to portray the tenderness between the 2 lovers that was ulitmately doomed. Don't know if I succeeded. Surpisingly for me it is in standard tuning. It was written for classical guitar but I think it sits very nicely on the Traveller.The second tune, "Doyles" is a Polka from Ireland arranged by Jean Banwarth. So many players tackle the jigs and reels that other dances like Polkas tend to get forgotten. I think this is tremendous fun and I hope that comes across in the recording. Its in Dadagad with capo at fret 5. Again this shows off one of the Traveller's strengths- a great even and balanced response when capoed higher up the finger board. Hope you enjoy them! For those that are interested in such matters I recorded them with a X-Y pair, using Rode NT5s, into a Motu Ultralight hybrid into Logic 9. No processing other than a little reverb using one of my favourite rooms!

 

Here are a couple more videos. I thought I would experiment a little with micing up- I thought miking up from the player's perspective is ideal for this guitar due to the soundport. I only used one mike, but another placed at the lower bout in front of the guitar and mixed in with the soundport one would, I suspect, give a lovely full sound. I might experiment this weekend. Anyway, sorry about a few mistakes in both- a bit of the old red light syndrome. Star of County Down is a wonderful arrangement of a lovely tune by El McMeen, who does a lot of stuff in this tuning (CGDGAD). I haven't played this tune for a while until I got the Traveller in my hands, and I must say it sounds very nice on this guitar- the separation of all the notes really comes out in this tune:

 

 

The other tune is The Seagull arranged by Tony McManus. This is a bagpipe tune that is in an even more unusual tuning- DAAEAE. Yes, thats right the 5th and 4th strings are tuned to the same note. Even when you stop one of the A's from ringing the other just rings on, even if it hasn't been plucked. Its amazing and great for recreating the drone of the pipes:

 

 

January 2011 - Here's a video of Rob playing his own composition in DADGAD "Tashtulee - The Tale of the Travelling Guitar" that was written on and inspired by The Traveller As Rob explains "This tune just kind of appeared out of the blue towards the end of my time with the traveller, way back in September. The piece is of course about a guitar on its travels. I imagined all the many styles of music it would experience during its journey. I also had in mind the wonderful oud playing of Leon, who was next in line to recieve the guitar. The piece starts off very much in a celtic indiom, like much of the stuff I play. Along the way I also imagined Blues and rock styles. It eventually settles into the funky, almost African inpsired riff with the strange eastern sounding tune over the top. A little glimpse of previous tunes comes back in to kind of tie up the rather disparate elements of the piece. I imagine the guitar sailing off into the distance to the strains of the African bass riff, only to arrive back home." Rob plays it on his Brook Tamar:

 

 

Here's Rob's review:

 

Aesthetics: This is a very distinctive looking guitar with a lovely body shape, just the right size and depth. I love the organic looking wooden rosette, and together with the simple binding, this is an instrument that you simply want to pick up and almost hug! The headstock shape is very distinctive and highly original. Some people might prefer a little more symmetry in their guitar, but lets face it, any idea of symmetry in this guitar is thrown out the window with the multi scale aspect. Some might say the heel of the neck is a little large, but this hasn't affected playability for me in anyway. Another unusual feature (for me at least) is the rosewood back plate, a feature that I am sure has structural implications as well as aesthetic. This is where I feel Dave has been ingenious in his choice of woods in the way the light sycamore contrasts with the dark rosewood. This makes for a visually more interesting experience from the performers perspective. The contrast is echoed in the very sound that emminates from Samhain- a beautiful balance of dark, silky tones all over the neck with bright, but controlled harmonics. The hand made tuner buttons are a nice touch- I just feel they could be a little smoother in finish, but there is no doubting the tuners themselves are excellent- very firm, making tuning adjustments very easy to do. The tuners handled very confidently and nipping in and out of tunings and making quick adjustments when using a capo proved no problem. I know this is hardly one of the most important features of the guitar but even the label was very distinctive and nicely executed. Artistically the label is beautifully designed and to me at least shows the care and pride Dave takes in his work. Overall Samhain is a stunning looking guitar when looking from an audience perspective, and Dave White has sucessfully created a distinctive look for his instruments. From a distance on stage there should be no doubt that a performer is playing a DeFoite instrument, and there are enough subtle details to the instrument to make playing the guitar just as interesting a visual experience.

 

Playability: This guitar has an uncanny ability to inspire- I found myself attempting new repertoire and exploring new techniques (for me) , such as Soig Siberil's left hand hammer on techniques. Samhain is an exceptionally easy guitar to play, and the fact that the sound of her is coming straight back at you via the sound port on the upper bought makes you want to wring every last ounce of music from her. Strings are nicely balanced, maybe the 2nd string just leaping out a smidgeon, especially when tuned up to C, but a slightly different gauge string would solve this if it were an issue. Even more classical style pieces really sang on this guitar. I wouldn't describe the sound as harmonically rich- instead it had a really solid fundamental, quite like a good quality grand piano. I mostly played this guitar fingerstyle- I did attempt some strumming (such as Nick Drake's Northern Sky) but somehow the sound didn't blend as well for me. If I owned this guitar it would almost exclusively be used for fingerstyle as I feel that is where its strengths lie. Action is just right, as is the neck width- I am more used to a 44mm neck so this 46mm one was quite a difference for me- but it made legato pull offs a breeze, as are right hand triplets in the style of McManus. However, I think neck widths are very easy to get used to, unless you are lucky to own several guitars, and if I were to commission one I would either stick to 44mm or compromise on 45mm. The neck, while no means a handful, is certainly plentiful!

 

Sound: Tone all over the neck was superb. The sound was just as full around the 9th to 12th frets as it was in the lower frets. Strange and as enigmatic as it might sound, I just felt this guitar seemed to have music already in her that the player just needed to unlock. I have been hinting at the sound already in this review- it is the number one thing that strikes you from the moment you pluck a string or strum your first chord. The first time I did so a big smile appeared on my face, that did not shift the whole time I had her in my hands. At least 2 hours passed by that first time before I put her down. Then an element of sadness crept in as it suddenly dawned on me that this wasn't my guitar and in 2 weeks time I would have to hand her on to Leon. Playing her for the first time is like when you hear a brilliant album for the first time- you only ever experience the joy of listening to an album for the first time once, and it is a joy that I relish. Likewise I rather envy Leon and every other guitarist next in line to play Samhain- what I would give to relive those first couple of hours with her again. But, Samhain turned out to have much, much music in her, and many many happy hours were subsequently spent unlocking the poetry that seemed to be embedded in her soul. Dave has managed to implement a little alchemy here. Talking about a bunch of wood and steel as having a soul and poetry would, I suspect, be a shortcut to calling in the men in white coats, but I don't care. I have just come back from dropping Samhain off at Leon's and I am positive that she exerted her magic on him in exactly the same way.

 

Fit and Finish: The soundboard is a lovely, mostly straight grained piece of spruce, a lovely creamy colour that reminded me of my own guitar's Engelman top. The Sycamore neck makes for a very visually interesting guitar. The colour of the head plates is much darker than the back and sides- I wondered if a little more unity could be gained by using the same woods. The neck is a little rough in places, especially down at the 'coal face' end around the 2nd and 3rd frets. I would certainly prefer a smoother neck. I do not like varnished necks at all, so this one is almost just right, but could benefit from a little more finishing, with the aim of creating a more silky surface over which the left hand could glide. The slanted frets are not an issue and are easy to get used to- I don't actually look at the fingerboard and rely instead on just the side of the neck, so to be honest fingers just seem to fall naturally into place. The multiscale aspect enables numerous altered tunings to be attempted without the strings becoming too floppy. I tried a number of tunings, right down to C, and intonation was spot on. The width of the neck and the fact that capos have to be attached at an angle mean that extra attention has to be given to capo placement. I did find that the bottom string would consistently be pulled sharp. but so long as tuning is adjusted each time the capo is moved to a different position means that this shouldn't be a problem. Samhain has the most enormous saddle I have ever seen on a guitar. I have no issues whatsoever with the action, but the height of the saddle does seem excessive. When I put a new set of strings on her I thought Samhain had suddenly turned into one of Linda Manzer's sitar guitars- the B string buzzed in the most astonishing way, until I discovered that the string wasn't exactly sitting in the almost unnoticeable groove on the saddle. Do be careful when changing strings- otherwise I would make the grooves just a little deeper. Now on to the matt finish - I suppose this is the most controversial aspect of the guitar and it has taken me a while to get used to it. I have given it much thought- there are many classical guitar makers that employ a similar finish.Lowden's are not exactly glass like in their finish. Elysian are another make who simply use an oil finish. I have no doubt that such as finish is much better for the environment, but getting over the fact that the guitar looks 'unfinished' is something that may well hinder Dave's instruments being taken up by more players. If you saw this guitar in a shop, I would worry that many players may well over look it in favour of the more glossy looking ones nearby, which of course would be their loss because this guitar sounds glorious which, I have no doubt, is in no small part down to the oil finish. Other (very) minor observations- inside looks a little untidy- the braces could be smoother and more neatly finished. The interlocking of the braces looks slightly rough, and glue is clearly visibly. This would hardly be noticeable if it were not for the soundport displaying the innards of the guitar in all their glory!

 

My wife, who is not a guitarist but is an excellent musician, has been listening to Samhain throughout this review period. She wanted to add a few words as well: "The main plus of this guitar is that it projects very well. Visually I would love to see an inlay on the headstock, but nothing that would detract. I like the unvarnished look, but when the hand glides over it it does feel a little 'grainy', so it could do with a little more smoothing. There is a slightly uneven tone from certain strings (mainly the second string). This string kind of leaps out occasionally. Being a cellist I am used to using different types of string to create a better balance. Maybe this is something that could be explored when choosing strings for this guitar. It still sounds a little new, but this should improve and mellow with more playing. But, there is a beautiful clarity and sweetness of tone when fingerpicked. I prefer the tone of Samhain to the Brook Lyn that Rob owned. The Brook lacked a little clarity and depth in the lower strings, whereas Samhain had a consistent and deep tone all over the guitar in whatever altered tuning was being used. The headstock looks a little small and out of proportion- it has a feminine look and I wonder whether a slightly larger headstock (keeping the shape the same) might look more balanced visually. This guitar is fantastic value for money!"

 

Back to me (Rob) I have had the privilege of playing, and owning, some fantastic guitars over the last few years. Visually the most astonishing guitar I have owned was a sunburst slope D Bourgeois, a highly respected maker in the USA. However, even this guitar had some tool marks on the neck, just to remind you that human hands actually made it. Sonically the best guitar I owned (before my current one) was a Brook Lyn, which had similar woods to Samhain- a European spruce top with rosewood back and sides. The most souless guitar I have ever owned was a Taylor 810- an absolutely perfect guitar in all but sound. My current guitar is a wonderful Fylde Eric Bibb, which sonically is astonishing and visually quite beautiful (again though there are some flaws in the finish). I think you can see what I'm getting at. Samhain has been one of the most inspiring and beautiful guitars I have ever played, and that is even before taking into account how much Dave wants for his instruments. But it has definitely been made by human hands. Would I replace my Fylde with a Dave White instrument? No! However, I would certainly like to own both, a luxury in these financially difficult times. Dave makes a huge number of different instruments- I am positive that he could build just about anything that had strings on it, and he would do a bloody good job! I admire anyone who can make an instrument. However, to make one that sings as sweetly as Samhain is quite an achievement. Anyone after a beautiful sounding instrument for a very reasonable sum of money should be beating a path to Dave White's door, but do so soon before everyone gets wind of this and his books start filling up. Would I buy a De Foite guitar? Well, I think the answer is obvious- yes. I've got a feeling it wouldn't stop at just one though- I think I would have to convince my wife that I simply had to have a guitar bouzouki, and a baritone, and a tenor guitar. Where would it end? Would I buy a guitar with exactly the same spec as Samhain? Do you know what, I think I probably would- the multiscale and sound port have both proven their worth these last two weeks.

 

Thank you Dave for such a wonderful opportunity to try out one of delightful instruments. Rob Jessep, September 2010

 

September 2010: Leon, Portsmouth

 

 

Leon has recorded some "sound sketches" on The Traveller that you can listen to here on Soudclick. Leon has also put together a number of videos - some are using a plectrum, some with high capo at fret 7, some figerstyle, some in standard tuning and some in EADGAD:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's Leon's review:

 

"Samhain the Traveller, review - Leon Palmer

 

This is my review of a very wonderful and individual guitar. Beginning at the beginning ... on a Sunday evening just over two weeks ago, Rob Jessop (and family!!) came to our house with Samhain the Traveller. The first thing to mention is that this road-trip is not just about a guitar but by its very nature becomes also about making contact with other like-minded people. First Impressions: I must admit to not spending too much time initially looking at the Traveller beyond a quick look around the guitar and a quick sniff of the woody aroma (I know I am not alone in this habit). The reason for this was I could hear the Traveller before even playing it as it began to resonate with the sound of my voice as I chatted with Rob. This resonance is a key to the quality of Samhain, and it transpires all of Dave's other instruments as well - when I took Samhain round to his place on Sunday we both smiled broadly as they all chimed as we chatted.

 

So my first impression was I wanted to play this, and I wanted to still play it after two weeks. I had no difficulty getting used to the multi scale because despite looking pretty way-out when hung on the wall, I just didn't notice it when I played. What I did notice was ease of playing and that this instrument tempted and encouraged me to pursue and express and explore its full tonality. Samhain feels like a small bodied and 'agile' guitar in terms of how it rests on the knee and invites you to play. The fingerboard is nice and wide (beautifully and simply cut and finished with a lovely Blackwood stripe running between fretboard and neck along its length), but also quite 'fast' to play. I think is partly to do with this being an extremely responsive and instrument, it kind of plays itself if you let it and invites subtleties of touch, flicks, hammer-ons etc, and the low action (without a hint of a buzz). The frets are beautifully set and I didn't notice any sharp edges (but I didn't go out of my way to look for them either!!).

 

The balance across all the strings is fantastic, and there is both great separation and great sustain and can produce amazing volume and quietness without any fall off in complexity. It is a tribute to Dave's skill and sensibility that these qualities accentuate each other rather than work in opposition, in some instruments I have noticed that the sustain can overwhelm and confuse the separation. Now for me this is at the heart of what this guitar was made for. There is a very particular sound and feel that this guitar produces and is present in different ways in his other instruments. There is a wonderful complexity and richness of tone and it's over and undertones!!! that accompanies each note. This continues all the way up the fretboard and if anything expands the higher you get - this guitar seems to have bags of sonic energy. I kept capoing at the 7th fret where the altitude is so high the capo needed oxygen, and Samhain loved it, really ringing out.

 

I also played with a plectrum, which I don't do so much now, but it sounded beautifully clear and bell-like again all over the fretboard. To be honest I couldn't find a dull spot on this guitar, Dave mentioned the second string as being very slightly challenged but this was a miniscule observation, also for a very young guitar he had noticed that it had already opened up and matured noticeably since he sent it out. I remember at one of our UK oud meetings one guy brought a very nice and newly made Nazih Ghadban oud along and was worried about its slightly reticent tone. Michael Moussa who is a very good oud maker told him to make sure as many different people play it as possible during the day. Sure enough by the end of the meeting the oud was very very awake and the owner pretty astounded. Imagine how Samhain will be when it has returned from its Northern trip?? I'm not really a strummer but when I did and however strongly this was done it was impossible to get any buzz. I think this may be partly to do with the multi-scale keeping an even tension across all strings, but for a fingerpicking guitar this is quite unusual. The other thing I noticed was that Samhain really included you as a player in its soundscape. This is partly to do with the soundport on the side of the upper bout and so I felt surrounded by the sound which really changes the way you want to play. Getting back to the sound, Samhain and Dave's other instruments do have a certain quality. We were talking about this on Sunday and we bandied words around like English, European, Harpsichord like, Harp like, sweet, and to my ears expansive, lyrical and in a way ancient encouraging a kind of yearning in the way I wanted to play.

 

As you have probably guessed by now, I am completely struck by Samhain. I like its spirit and where it may have taken me musically if it were mine to have ... and this leads me to the main negative point ... it's not mine and it will be off travelling again. As for improvements, well I chatted for a while with Dave about this. For me some of the previous reviews had minor observations about finish just didn't register with me, and didn't bother me when I did eventually looked closely (which I really did). One thing we did agree on was that the heel could have been reduced a little and that the neck would benefit from being lightly re-sanded and varnished and polished a little more smoothly. Dave said he may well be doing this before the next leg. Dave also suggested that the saddle height could be reduced, for me that wasn't a problem and I quite liked having this slightly supercharged aspect to Samhain, but wisdom will prevail no doubt. I would say that this is a beautifully made instrument. It is handmade and there are small signs of this if you look closely - and I encourage you to do so if you get chance so you can see for yourself that this has been crafted with great care and above all soul to make an amazing sound. I tend to feel that playing guitar is an expression of an inner voice, and a handmade instrument has something of the maker's voice too making it very special. The bindings and purflings are simple and clean, the lines nicely balanced and with a lovely sense of placing and proportion. There has also been some talk of the headstock design. Well this isn't me sitting on the fence, it's not in my nature, but I do think that it is part of the character and individuality of the Traveller. I may well have done a different design but that goes for anything in life. The fact is I love this guitar, and I'm not just saying this to be polite. I've tried out loads of guitars in my time, the best there are, and this is as magical a guitar as they get for me. That word magical is well placed I think, because Samhain is not just a cold calculated tone monkey, there is something going on with Dave's guitars that even he may not know about. If I could afford one I'd commission one tomorrow, and I'd visit Dave and talk it through with him so we craft the idea together before it gets made.

 

To finish, I'd just like to thank Dave for organising this trip and for being so generous with his time and genuinely and warmly open to feedback, thoughts, observations and ideas. I hope also it has been good for you to hear Samhain played back to you."