August News 2019
We'll start with a couple of guitars we previewed for you last month: Suhail is a filmmaker from North London, he ordered this fretless Taw with the Anjan fingerboard, he's planning on using it for the soundtrack of the film he's currently working on!
Tony picked up his ziricote Tamar and is already considering a second Brook.
This month we seem to have mainly been working on mahogany topped guitars:
These two for Coda, a Lyn and a Clyst,
Pretty stunning figured wood, pyramid bridges on these two 12 fretters.
John Middleton brought in his 2016 reclaimed mahogany topped Tamar for us to fit a pickup.
And this lovely vintage Martin came in for a neck reset, new bridge and repair work to the bridge plate and bracing,
It's an 00-17 from 1935 and sounds great now with an easy action.
Amongst the other repairs we had this Maton in with some severe damage to the back, Andy did another great job getting it back together, the customer was delighted and couldn't even see the repair!
Andy relacquered the fingerboards on two of these custom shop Strats and sorted out a few dents and dings.
I went up to Kevin Aram's workshop in North Devon with Martin who edits our Babbling Brook magazine, Martin was picking 'Ritzy' his new classical, I had the pleasure of trying it out up there!
It's back and sides are from the same batch of yew as Martin's Okement.
It's festival time again, Dave Treloar always has a pop up shop with his vintage instruments at the Sidmouth Folk Festival, he brought in these nine instruments from his van for a quick set-up before he set up shop.
I went down to the Cornwall Folk Festival to see Wizz Jones, Pete Berryman and Boo Hewerdine, then on to the Hellys Guitar Festival to see Pete again along with Chris Woods, Bob Devereux and innovative luthier Kif Woods. Here's Pete playing the Tamar we made for him about twenty years ago.
Nice to see this pretty little German blonde guitar-shaped mandolin on the bench again for a re-string.
And thanks to Pat in Las Vegas for the photo. Pat's still planning on eventually crossing the pond to see us - The Devon cream tea will be waiting for you and April!
I've collected so many guitars over the years and occasionally not been particularly selective, I know that this may not go down too well with some enthusiasts but, rather than giving unplayable instruments away to budding guitarists, it's sometimes kinder to dispose of them gracefully,
The guitars not the budding guitarists of course, let's make that clear!
July News 2019
First off the post this fine July morning and certainly a first for us is this fretless Taw, it's tuned in fifths from a low F to a high E.
It's a cedar topped 12 fretter with an Anjan fingerboard, bridge and head veneer. Anjan's one of the densest Indian hardwoods so we thought it would be eminently suitable to cope with fingerboard wear.
Rosewood back and sides with a satin finish.
The Lyn here will be going up to Manchester this week. Adirondack top,
Snakewood binding, soundport,
Highly figured bubinga back and sides
With a laminated mahogany neck with a rosewood splice, topped off with bronze Waverleys with snakewood buttons.
Possibly not coincidentally - this cutaway Tamar is for Tony who has a place down by the Tamar estuary.
Nice ziricote back on this one!
Andy took this English cherry Tavy and English walnut Torridge up to Project Music in Exeter a couple of weeks ago.
Phil Taylor took a trip down here for an adjustment to his Lamorna neck.
This early '90s Gibson ES 175 has rather unpleasant cold checking on the headstock and other areas - an all too common problem on these. The frets ended up working their way through the binding as the fret-board shrunk, everything points towards humidity problems in the factory during the build. Unbelievably there are still Gibson fans out there who consider this a charming feature!
A considerably better finished Gibson Midtown Custom came in, we made up a replacement pick-guard.
Here's a cute small bodied arch-top Framus - it came in for a neck re-set and went out playing beautifully!
TV's Taw with the removable neck came in for a check over,
And - yes, that's buckle rash!
It was somewhat of a disappointment to see this printed tortoiseshell pattern on an anniversary edition Martin. Ladies and gentlemen I can assure you at Brook Guitars we only use the very best quality fake tortoiseshell for our pick-guards!
Enjoy your summer.
June News 2019
First up - We resisted for many years but our thanks go out to Robbie and Martin for their hard work and prodding us into setting up the Brook Guitars Facebook page. For anyone who might be interested in following us we promise not to bombard you with incessant inane drivel and photos of our food!
Back to the real stuff: Arjan and his wife Monique came across from the Netherlands to pick up his new Tamar,
It has a European spruce top, red gum back, a torch inlay on the headstock and hexagonal abalone block inlays for position markers.
Arjan was so pleased with his new Brook he called in to Project Music on the way home and purchased a Lamorna to keep it company!
Our buddy Tony has added a custom Calder to his impressively large collection of Brooks,
This one has English walnut back and sides with a tinted Swiss spruce top
And Jack's kingfisher inlay on the headstock.
A couple of weeks ago I went to see the excellent Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe playing a gig in Kingskerswell, Steve was happy to sign the label and test drive the guitar - Tony was delighted!
While we're on the subject of the Calder, here's Steve's mate Keith Warmington performing at The Eldon House, Bristol.
Phil came down from Oldham to pick up his new Lamorna,
Adirondack top on this one along with English walnut back and sides.
When Phil got back he took this photo of the Lamorna, already feeling at home, between his Torridge and Lyn.
Another Lamorna - very popular this month, this time with a sitka top with a pick-guard, and rosewood back and sides,
Also very popular with our customers currently is the new decking area. Here's Mike with his new guitar!
Will Riding's playing his Torridge on his latest EP 'Venus In Mohair', it's officially released on 1st of July and available on Bandcamp here.
Tom Robinson wrote "The unpretentious charm of Will Riding’s performance...completely disarmed me"! Check it out.
Lars Mullins came down to interview us for Britain's Rare Guitars
It's for a short feature for their program on Sky, you can check photos from the shoot on their Facebook page here.
See you next month!
May News 2019
Keith Warmington picked up his new Calder. Keith's a good pal of Steve Tilston and ordered a similar guitar but with a few changes:
Keith went for a natural finish for the fine Swiss spruce top,
he asked for a Cornish chough inlay on the headstock.
Apart from that it had the same features as Steve's - the 12/14 fret body join
And the sound-port.
Here's the full-length shot
And here's Keith on the decking outside the workshop for the obligatory photo!
This Lyn's just gone up to Steve in Hertfordshire,
A solid headstock rather than typical slotted one - it does make string changing a lot easier!
He asked for a nice aged tint for the top, simple wood rosette, purfling and binding along with a pyramid bridge and diamond and dot position markers.
Jon had this walnut Torridge shipped across the US from Shoreline in Colorado to North Carolina, he said " WOW. I've probably owned over 200 guitars in my lifetime (I used to buy and sell), but this is by far the best guitar I've ever owned. Incredible workmanship, and the tone is...I don't know, it gets inside me. Just WOW. Not ever selling THIS one!" Thanks for the kind words Jon!
This Lyn and a Tamar went up to Intersound last week,
The Lyn (above) is Bubinga and sitka and the Tamar (below) is ovangkol and cedar.
Marcus and Nitin are part-way through their latest tour, they dropped in to see us again and we were really pleased to have another impromptu performance.
There's still an opportunity to catch them at the following venues:
Here’s a picture of Mack with his owner's new Torridge, we featured Rob and Mack in the February news last year. Recently Rob decided to trade in his Clyst for a bubinga Torridge he'd seen in Coda. He loves the new guitar, he had some regrets about letting the Clyst go and checked Coda after a few days about maybe buying it back but it had already found a new home. It's a slippery slope Rob - one Brook's never enough!
As usual we've had more than our fair share of repairs and set-ups this month - one of our customers brought in these four and I worked my way through them one busy afternoon.
We replaced a worn bridge-plate on this 1970's Gibson MK53.
Andy worked wonders with this Martin which had a major split along the ribs.
He's part way through some interesting repairs, we'll show you the results next month!
April News 2019
We're pleased to announce the sixth issue of Babbling Brook is now available, you can download it here, you'll also be able to download it along with previous issues on our homepage.
We have an in-depth interview with Steve Tilston, our collectors feature and a look at Celtic Chords in Stonehaven, an article on some of the more unusual guitars we've made outside our standard range, a brief explanation of how the new CITES legislation affects guitarists, along with tab for 'A Place For Solitude' by Phil Taylor. As usual many thanks to Martin Bell for all his hard work, hope you enjoy it, any feedback will be most welcome!
Adrian came down from Berkshire to buy the walnut and cedar Tamar we had in stock, it was a toss up between this one and a walnut Lamorna in Project Music - the Tamar won out this time!
Chris also had a similar dilemma: he'd come down to look around the workshop and try some guitars before Christmas. He recently went into Intersound and was torn between a Taw and a Lamorna, eventually the latter got his seal of approval! He sent us a message "I’m constantly astounded by the quality and consistency of your guitars. They are the bench mark that I judge others against. I’ve yet to play anything that enjoy as much as these". Thanks to Sam, aged 6, for the photo!
You may remember this spalted sycamore Taw we recently sent out to New Zealand, Matt got in touch to say "It's arrived, and is even more beautiful than I had hoped".
Coincidentally - we've just been sent this photo of Alex playing his Bovey by Lake Taupo in New Zealand. Thanks to his daughter Kora for the photo.
Closer to home, Len picked up his rosewood and Sitka spruce Taw and looks delighted with his new Brook!
Mark brought his 000 shaped Newlyn over for a set of strings, we've only made a couple of these....so far.
Here's Matthew in Stourbridge with his cat Charlie, along with a ten year old Clyst he's just acquired, he'll be coming down our way in August so he's going to call in to the workshop then.
Several years ago we made a striking black Tamar for New Zealand born, London based singer/songwriter Louise Loft (that's the third N.Z. connection this month!) Louise decided it was time for another Brook.
A few years ago we had a vintage 1950s Gibson 185 through the workshop and took a drawing from it. Louise liked the look of it and we'd been waiting for the opportunity to add this shape to our range so we made up a mould in preparation for the, as yet, un-named new model!
As I've got my new Lamorna John here asked if my old Taw was for sale, I reluctantly agreed - it's the seventeenth Brook in his collection, which now includes several which were my personal guitars!
This Bovey came in for repair, damaged while builders were working on the owner's house, Andy managed to glue the top back and replace the broken binding.
I've just re-fretted this Ovation and it reminds me of why they're not amongst my favourite instruments: you can't hold them down on the bench to work on them, you can't release the strings to work on the saddle and bridge, the saddle is integral with the pickup so changing the action is a nuisance, they slip off your lap when you sit and play, I could go on.....and on......
but I'd rather not end this month's news on that sort of note!
March News 2019
Andy made the trip down from Hertfordshire to collect his highly customised Tavy, dedicated to his late father with his initials on the 12th fret.
It has a stunning variegated cedar top, figured English walnut back and sides, sound-port, along with abalone Celtic knot inlays, rosette and trim. Andy's really pleased with the result and already contemplating his next Brook!
Barry came down from Oxford to pick up his tasteful cutaway Lamorna -
With dark rosewood binding and purfling, custom bridge with stained black saddle and nut
And this rather nice set of heavily flamed Australian blackwood for the back and sides.
We made this Tamar for our shop, the majority of woods are non-tropical, the only concessions are the ethically sourced Crelicam ebony we use on all our guitars and reclaimed mahogany for the laminated neck and back struts. The top's cedar, the back and sides are figured English walnut and the binding and heel-cap are lacewood - London plane, cut on the quarter.
The latest four guitars for Project Music are nearly ready now: a bubinga Taw, a walnut Lamorna, a rosewood Taw and a walnut Torridge.
I thought it was about time for a change so I'm moving on my old Taw and have gone for a Lamorna this time!
Very plain with simple appointments, an Adirondack top and Indian rosewood back and sides.
I'll be spending most of April playing my new Lamorna in but hopefully also get enough work done to put together something for next months news!
February News 2019
First off the post this month is this Taw, heading off to New Zealand shortly.
The spalted sycamore came down in a paddock just round the corner from Andy's home in the village of Sandford!
Here's a close up of the back, plenty of variegation as well as flame!
Mike, from the New Forest, picked up the cherry Tavy 12 string we featured last month.
Another guitar we featured last month was the Macassar ebony Lamorna, collected a couple of weeks ago by Gary who came down from Dorset.
Rose brought down her custom Lyn for a tweak of the truss-rod. It's not often you get more than a wry grin out of us two old buggers but we all cracked a smile over Andy's quip along the lines of 'a rose between two thorns'...... though slightly more offensive about us both - and slightly more amusing!
Rose has been setting up gigs again recently and will be playing with Ian Holleran at the Plough Arts Centre in Torrington on April 12th.
Keith's up in Cumbria, he bought his Torridge from Project Music in Exeter, he wrote - 'I want to thank you for making such a lovely guitar. I’m a little different, being a one- armed/handed guitarist after a serious motorbike accident fourteen years ago. I’ve persevered and managed to develop a style of playing that works to a level, with both electric and acoustic guitar. Once again thank you for making such a lovely instrument.'
Here are more photos of Chris with his Tavy and Teign performing around his home town of Tavistock. Photos courtesy of Jac Flash Photography.
Jan popped down from North Devon with a fine hurdy gurdy and lute handmade by a relative of hers, we did a little research, ordered a set of lute strings and put on a couple of temporary ones until the new set turn up.
We took delivery of a massive board of old stock Brazilian mahogany which we've been cutting up for necks, back and sides.
We also ordered up this superb top, back and sides set of koa for Wolfgang in Zetel, Germany who's asked us to make a Lyn for him. The koa was sourced and supplied by Joshua Rose, a native of Hawaii who's relocated his fine woodworking business to Devon!
We should be able to show you the completed guitar towards the end of the year!
January News 2019
Mike's planning on coming across from the New Forest to pick up his new Tavy 12 string in a couple of weeks,
Here are close ups of the cherry back and sitka top, the binding is rosewood with a yew rosette and also yew purfling.
Mike asked Jack to inlay this sparrow hawk on the headstock using local woods.
We've just strung up this Lamorna for Gary in Dorset
Based on the O.M. shape this one has a stunning Macassar ebony back and sides and finest grade Swiss spruce soundboard.
We inlaid this abalone torch design in the headstock.
Three new guitars for Intersound: (front to back) a Creedy, Lamorna and a Taw.
The woods (front to back again) cherry, rosewood and red gum.
Mauro, in Foggia, sent us this photo of himself with his new Torridge
Along with some pictures of the stunning area of Southern Italy where he lives.
Andy's been spraying the latest batch of Brooks
He's also spraying a sunburst on this fine yew Strat made by James Millman.
We've just repaired the bridge and splits ribs on this lovely 1925 koa Martin.
Richard sent us this photo of his music room to remind us about the Bovey we built for him back in 2002 and the Taw a couple of years later, he's promised to pop in and see us again this year....
Jake has just finished his course in music engineering and production, he's joined our small team to see how he gets on with guitar making!
We've just re-fretted this Fylde and still got a couple of Strat refrets to fit in before the end of the month!
More next month!
December News 2018
To start off the final month's news of 2018 we have this Lamorna which has just been sent off to Howard in Norfolk,
An Adirondack top, Martin style rosette, simple pearl diamond inlays on the fingerboard and a belly bridge decorated with a couple of additional pearl diamonds.
Madagascan rosewood back,
Along with a fleur-de-lis inlay on the headstock and Waverly tuners with snakewood buttons.
Richard came down from Bristol for this Torridge,
With a Lutz spruce top,
A figured English walnut back and figured mahogany laminated neck
And a Celtic knot headstock inlay.
This cutaway Torridge is going out to Mauro in Italy in the New Year,
It has a yellow cedar top
And a figured English walnut back.
We've just delivered this rosewood and Sitka spruce Lamorna to Project Music in Exeter.
Amongst the repairs this month: We had to glue a few small splits in this fine Nicholas Scott classical, we also reshaped the neck and re-lacquered it to make it more comfortable for the owner.
We're repairing a puncture wound in this old Harmony Sovereign. Once a favourite of 1950's and 60's folk and blues musicians, the model was so popular there were even European copies made of them!
This Silvertone arch-top, probably also built in the Harmony factory, came in for a neck re-set. The owner has a collection of similar models, with a bit of luck we should have this one ready for a place in the January news.
For everyone who keeps up with the Brook news updates we send you our best wishes,
We'll be off for a few days for our winter break and see you again next year!
November News 2018
We'll start the news this month with George in Atlanta, George has, to our knowledge, become the first Brook collector over in the U.S. Here he is in Peachtree Corners with his collection, second on the left is his latest acquisition - a Taw made of yew from the Haldon Grange estate near Exeter.
Tony came over from the Isle of Wight to pick up his 12 fret Tamar 12 string:
015 spec with abalone purfling, rosette and fingerboard inlays,
A bound, slotted headstock with Golden Age vintage tuners,
A stunning English walnut back and sides, bound with maple,
Along with a sound-port.
Many thanks to Anne Schelhaas-Wöll for these photos of TV and his Taw, he's on tour in Germany supporting Die Toten Hosen
All taken at the gig at the SO36 club, Berlin on 7th November.
Jake has recorded a couple of tracks with his Tavy fan-fret and put it up on Bandcamp, to listen - check it out here.
This bubinga Torridge went up to Ivor Mairants in London.
Chris visited the workshop with his twenty year old English walnut Tavy, we remember making this one for the original owner - we're pleased to say that the guitar's matured beautifully and sounding even better after all those years of playing!
A few interesting repairs again this month: Gareth Hedges brought over his 1970 Zemaitis to lower the action.
Stan brought over his latest instrument - a Les Paul / Telecaster crossover, capped in English walnut we supplied, Andy wired it up for him. Stan's raised a considerable amount of money by donating his guitars to various charity auctions.
Mark Foxhall, from Lyme Regis, came up with his unusual Jerzy Drozd custom bass. With a fret dress and careful customisation of the saddles we were able to get the sneakily low action Mark needs for his super fast double thumbing technique!
It was great to see Kev Aram's domino Torridge again, it's loosely based on a vintage Regal.
We made up a full set of bone and ebony miniature dominos and arranged the fingerboard markers to add up to the appropriate fret positions with the remainder incorporated in the rosette. Kev's next guitar is going to have a cowboy theme, we're looking forward to working on that!
This Norman Wood guitar has been an interesting renovation: it had been messed around with over the years and even been fitted with a Strat bridge, we patched it up, filled the splits and put a fresh bridge plate, bridge and tailpiece, some new struts, reset the neck and put it back together. It sounded remarkably good and the owner was delighted to get an old favourite up and running again.
I met Norman in the mid '70s, he was an eccentric character with some novel ideas about guitar making including an unusual layered back and stainless steel bar frets. This was his advertisement in a major guitar magazine from the same period!
Just one more Brook News before the New Year!
October News 2018
Here's a snapshot of the first frost of the Autumn over the orchard by our workshop.
These are the first four guitars that Andy took up to Project Music in Exeter,
From the top: a rosewood Torridge, a rosewood Lamorna, a rosewood Tamar and an English walnut Taw.
Ken came up from Cornwall to pick up his Teign,
European spruce top, diamond and dot position markers,
An English walnut back
And an inlay based on the logo from the Dartmoor Pony website, many thanks to Jenny How for permission to use the image.
This Martin came in with a nasty break in the sides,
Andy jigsawed it back together and used these strong magnets to hold a patch in place while the glue dries,
A little sanding and filling, then some colour to disguise the damage before building up with clear lacquer -
And a delighted customer picks up the result.
David took a trip up from Glasgow to Stonehaven to try some Brooks in Celtic Chords, he came away with this Taw.
Su picked up this rosewood Taw recently, the guitar's over twenty years old now and still sounding great!
TV got a good review for his latest album in Vive Le Rock magazine.
Amongst the repairs this month were a re-spray on this Fender Jaguar
And repairing a neck break on this banjo uke for Liz from Cornwall.
Finally this month - another three guitars we're about to take up to Project Music,
From the top: A walnut Torridge, a rosewood Torridge and a rosewood Taw.
September News 2018
These are the latest five guitars we've just sent up to Coda Music: A Teign, Tavy, Lyn, Weaver and a Creedy.
From bottom to top: Indian Rosewood, English Walnut, Figured Mahogany, Ovangkol (top left) and Indian Rosewood again (top right).
Thanks to Pat Muff for these photos of Chris, taken on Dartmoor with his two Brooks. Chris bought the red gum Tamar we had for sale to accompany the Teign he got from us a couple of years ago.
We completed the renovation of this 1920's guitar, the maker, Raffaele Calace, was a celebrated Italian lutenist and luthier and died in 1934.
The owner wanted the rather battered guitar to be made playable again so he could use it but wished to retain its character as his father had acquired it in Alexandria during the war. We kept and replaced the boot nails used to repair it after we'd taken the back off to re-glue many of the struts and repair the splits all around the instrument.
Mike came down for the Torridge we mentioned in the July news,
Bubinga back and sides with an Engelmann top.
Andrew's sent this walnut Lyn down for our shop, he's selling it to fund a nylon strung Cary. It's only two years old and in very good condition, if anyone's interested in saving some money and not having to wait for a new Brook this one's for sale at £1800.
Sometimes people just don't treat a handmade instrument with the respect it deserves! Unlike the standard Gibson headstock it's really not that easy to decapitate one of our guitars but this seventeen year old Tavy had been knocked over and had split around the volute.
To be fair - it didn't look as bad as this when it came in but to get a better gluing surface this time we felt we'd make a better job of it by fully breaking the headstock. Here's the completed repair.
We've been working on lots of other repairs, more of which next month!
August News 2018
Here are the first four guitars that we've just sent up to Coda Music in Stevenage,
From the front: A rosewood and European spruce Lamorna - our OM model, a beautifully figured mahogany Clyst, a bubinga and sitka Torridge and a rosewood and European spruce Taw.
Gary came down to pick up his new Taw,
It's rosewood and Engelmann spruce, slightly customised with diamond and dot inlays, deeper body and wider fingerboard and string spacing.
Brian bit the bullet and bought the spectacular fan-fretted Tamar we made last year! Brian wrote -
"Thanks for all of the effort and fantastic craftsmanship that Andy and yourself put into creating this guitar, it's found a home with someone who appreciates it more than words can say".
A couple of photos from Brook owners in the States this month: Firstly from David who let us know that his Taw was featured in his local Greensboro paper along with David playing at Porchfest accompanied by his friend and top musician Scott Manring.
Secondly we have Geoff from South Carolina who picked up this Kew walnut Torridge recently. We love to receive photos with a little local colour and Geoff sent us these shots from Greenville which is the only place in the US to have a natural waterfall in its centre!
Bob, on the left, has a recording studio in London and came down for set up on 2002 Tamar. On the right - Steve Goodchild picked up this second-hand 2016 Torridge recently and took a detour down to see us while he was working in Bristol.
Ken dropped in to see how his English walnut Teign was getting on and to finalise his headstock inlay, the guitar is up in the spray shop now so, with a bit of luck, we'll be able to show you the finished guitar next month!
Andy's just done a fine sympathetic restoration job on this rare Selmer Eddie Freeman tenor guitar, in the foreground is the superb history of Selmer guitars book by François Charle with all the information about this model.
As we were cutting up some of this Brazilian mahogany, we thought it might be interesting to show you an early stage in the building process - Marking out from the neck template, rough sawing to shape, then we leave them for a while before they're thoroughly stable and ready to select for future batches of Brook necks.
Film editor John Mister popped in with Gareth Hedges for a set up on his Martin which involved a fret dress, lowering the bridge height and dropping the saddle.
We've been working on some interesting restorations - more details of those next month, but this Sobell bouzouki is worth a mention, it was one of the late John Renbourn's which came up for auction recently. We're converting it to left-handed for the owner but we'll keep the original bridge, saddle and nut in case it needs to be converted back in the future.
Jack inlaid this spaniel in John Middleton's Lowden a few years ago, it was nice to see it again when Andy fitted a Fishman Infinity pickup.
Steve Tilston sent us a video of 'Let Your Banjo Ring' with his new Calder - see it our YouTube channel.
I've been making the most of all the music around during festival season: I saw Steve and Jez Lowe's set at the Sidmouth Folk Festival, then went off to see Wizz Jones.
Pete Berryman was amongst the many who played at the Hellys International Guitar Festival, Pete played a great set on his Tavy ending up with a crowd pleasing fingerstyle version of Albatross that you can watch on the festival site. The festival encompasses a multitude of guitar styles with top players from around the world and is organized by lutenist Ben Salfield, there were several luthiers there so it was great to have a good chat with them along with other old friends! I caught up with Wizz and Pete again at the Wadebridge Festival last weekend.
Finally - a shot of the next five guitars we're just finishing for Coda, they'll be ready for delivery early in September.
July News 2018
These three guitars, a Tamar, Lyn and a Clyst, are off to Ivor Mairants
And this bubinga Torridge is for our shop.
Steve Tilston's new Calder is being seen out and about regularly with Steve's busy touring schedule, here he is at Radio Leeds
And also at the Bristol Harbour Festival a few weeks ago. We've had two orders for his Calder model already, one from Keith Warmington who plays with Steve occasionally and one from Tony Kerry to add to his substantial collection of Brooks!
Most of you will know Robbie from our YouTube channel, over the years he's posted many superb acoustic guitar and bass videos of his arrangements and his own compositions.
Last year he found himself in the unfortunate position where he had to sell his collection of instruments. He's crowd-funding to record his second album and put something towards the deposit on a guitar. We'll be helping out but if any of you good people would like to contribute you can find out more about it here
Thanks to Simon Maidment for this photo. Simon runs a bespoke design company Simon Maidment Design And Research in Kew.
With his design background it's very flattering that he chose a Taw and a Creedy from us!
John bought in this 1930s Raffael Calace guitar. We love to see guitars like this with a bit of history:
John's father picked it up in Alexandria during the war and when it started falling apart mended it with nails from his boots! Our task is to keep these interesting features and get it back into a playable state.
Drew and his wife were over from the States on holiday and scheduled in a visit to the workshop. We made a Taw for him last year, the inset photo shows Jack's inlay to celebrate Drew's mother's love of gardening and the shamrock below as a reminder of his Irish heritage.
It was good to see these two Grimshaws together, the one on the left is a 1930s Revelation from our collection and on the right, a later Plectra - with one of the strangest cutaways we've ever seen!
The Plectra came in because the celluloid pick-guard had bent almost double, unfortunately we forgot to photograph it before we separated the laminates and binding but we managed to flatten everything out and then glued it all back together.
A gentleman rang up the other day to ask about two Boveys he's acquired, we looked up the serial numbers and the earliest one we made way back in 1997 for Martin Barre!
Mark was on holiday in South Devon with his family so called in with his Tamar and Bovey for a string change and a set-up.
Ollie here came over one day to complete his work experience week, he's a fine player and enjoyed the chance to try the finished guitars!
Michelle and Rob dropped in and gave us a few tunes before heading down for their gig at the Bodmin Folk Club. Michelle recorded one of the numbers on her phone, I'll be posting that on our YouTube channel shortly.
Amongst the other repairs we've been working on recently: this Takamine was the worst for wear, Andy did a fine job to get it back together and get it looking in a reasonable condition again.
This limited edition Martin acoustic bass had the common problem of the celluloid binding shrinking and coming away from the guitar at the waist, we re-glued and refinished the lacquer in the offending areas and it's pristine again.
Ah.... and this green Washburn came it for a fret dress and a set-up. Back in the early 1900s Washburn made some of the prettiest guitars around - this one - not so sure!
It was nice to see this fine guitar Chris Ayliffe made.
The story was that it was custom made for someone who annoyed him so much that when it was completed to the customer's satisfaction Chris refused to let him have it!
Next month we'll show you the first batch of guitars going off to Coda Music.
June News 2018
Marcus and Nitin dropped in to the workshop earlier in the month and Marcus played us a short set of his songs accompanied by Nitin on tabla. It was a real pleasure for us to hear these two great players. Nitin's from the third generation of master tabla players. His grandfather, Shenhai Samrat Pandit Shankarraoji Gaikwad was one of the greats of the 20th century.
George came down from Milton Keynes to pick up his third Brook - A Tamar to complement his Torridge and Tenor Uke.
He chose English walnut back and sides
And an Alpine spruce top. George favoured the slotted headstock rather than the solid one we usually use on the 14 fretters.
Adrian couldn't make it down to pick up his Taw but sent us this photo from his workshop.
He makes the very fine, award winning, guitar pedals at Thorpy FX. Check them out here.
The back's Macassar ebony. Adrian got in touch -
"The guitar is truly stunning, I'm mainly an electric player but this acoustic is addictive, both beautiful and so easy to play, I can't seem to put it down...."
Here's the European spruce top.
Chris brought his mandolin in for us to check out, we made it back in 2001. The small sapling you see in the inset photo is now the large lime tree you see behind Chris in the main photo!
John came down from Bedfordshire to pick up his new ovangkol Lyn, he came down a few months earlier when I carved the neck to check dimensions, he wanted a similar feel to his classical guitar.
Here's the guitar from the front, John preferred a solid headstock on his Lyn rather than the traditional slotted one.
Quite a a few Lyns seem to have left the workshop over the last couple of months, this cedar and mahogany one is about to go off to Forsyths in Manchester
There were a couple of shots of Steve's Madagascan rosewood Lyn in last month's news, he sent these photos with the message -
" Thank you for a beautiful looking and sounding guitar, it's perfect."
Rob brought his banjo in to show us now it has its full complement of hooks. He's been getting plenty of interest in the instrument wherever he plays. We also have Michelle's banjo in to dress the frets. They'll be playing as a duo again in a couple of weeks time when Michelle comes down from Manchester.
Andy made a slightly wider bone nut for Mike's David Oddy OM.
Here's a collection of some of the repairs we've been working on recently: a re-fret on a vintage Tele, fret dresses on a Harmony, Gibson Dove, Lowden and Takamine. Andy also repaired a couple of classical guitars with a number of splits and dinks!
Lastly a holiday shot of Mike under canvas, enjoying the sunshine, scenery and the Framus Broadway we rebuilt for him a few months ago!
Enjoy the sunshine!
May News 2018
We've just strung up Steve Tilston's Calder, we're letting it settle for a week before sending it off to him.
The top's finest quality European spruce with an amber stain, an abalone border and rosette,
Rosewood back and sides,
Here's the obligatory inside shot through the sound-port,
And here's a shot of our take on Steve's distinctive 12/14 fret body join.
Here's a Lyn for Steve in Manchester,
It's been customised very much in a Martin style with the triple rosette, tinted Engelmann top, courser herringbone purfling with celluloid binding and pyramid bridge,
There's a marquetry centre strip on a Madagascan rosewood back that Steve supplied.
Lastly an abalone torch inlay on a Madagascan rosewood head veneer.
Mike came across from the Isle of Wight to pick up his Taw,
640 mm scale with diamond and dot inlays,
Wider fingerboard, a deeper body
And Jack's snowdrop inlay.
This customised Torridge is going off to Shoreline in Colorado.
Here's a cedar Tamar and spruce Lyn for Intersound,
Walnut for the Tamar, cherry for the Lyn.
Keith got in touch for some information on this Tamar that had turned up at their shop - Empire Guitars, Rhode Island! We made for Ivor Mairants back in 2002.
I was invited by Pete Berryman to the opening fundraiser for the Hellys Guitar Festival. The festival is organised by international lutenist Ben Salfield and taking place in August. There's an excellent and varied line-up ranging from Clive Carroll and Pete to two of my favourite characters, poet Bob Devereux and artist, musician and writer Jonathan Coudrille.
By the way - Pete has just updated his website, you can visit it here
Check out Jack Hayter's live performance of one of my favourite tracks from 'Abbey Wood' - 'I Sent My Love To Bendigo', many thanks to the 'For Folk's Sake' team for this video.
We've just cut up this board of highly figured bubinga, there's a lot of work involved in sourcing the right wood, cutting and storing it - in this case just for three distinctive sets.
We've also been busy with plenty of repairs and re-frets this month but I'm afraid we haven't room to show them, maybe we'll get a chance to round them all up in next month's news!
April News 2018
As a follow up to the recent article in our latest Babbling Brook magazine we'd like to mention Dev's new guitar book 'Fingerstyle Etudes'. If you follow our YouTube channel you'll be aware of Dev from his beautiful Celtic compositions and arrangements on his Torridge.
Here's the cover and reviews from guitar luminaries Clive Carroll and Stuart Ryan:
"The pieces in this book explore many wonderful sonorities that are unique to the acoustic guitar. The composer Devkinanden Patel, is a player with very fine technique and an expert knowledge of the fretboard. His collection will help to advance student's technical skill and musicianship, and the music also works well in concert!" Clive Carroll
"My friend Dev is a great player, a wonderful composer and he really makes the guitar sing!" Stuart Ryan
You can order the book through Dev's website:
Marcus Corbett, also featured in the same Babbling Brook article, is about to embark on a short UK tour with Nitin Gaikwad:
They're are down our way with Faeland on 22 May at 19:30–22:45 at Kingskerswell Church - a really lovely local venue which is attracting a some major artists.
Jeff and Lucy came up from Totnes to pick up Jeff's new cutaway Torridge.
He wanted to use native woods as far as possible and chose yew for the back and sides, a European spruce top and a bog oak fingerboard.
Jack was asked to design the inlay of their cat Garth on the headstock and sent us this photo of the subject!
Here's the result - The verdict was that it looked more like Garth than Garth!
Another stunning guitar completed this month, an OM for John in Merseyside, John sourced the rosewood back. Other features include a Lutz spruce top, koa binding, and an abalone torch inlay, abalone snowflake inlay, rosette and top border.
Pete Berryman dropped in returning to Cornwall after a few gigs in Holland, he really enjoyed playing the custom fan-fret Tamar we have for sale. He was also interested in finding out more about the thinline Taw with the detachable neck we made last year for TV Smith as he's gigging abroad regularly. Pete's new album is almost ready, we'll look forward to that and let you know about it when it's released.
Talking of TV - Tim played at the Viva Le Rock awards ceremony and is featured in the current collectors issue!
Will Riding came down from Chester with his luthier friend Andy to see where his Torridge was made. He played us several of his excellent songs, check them out on Soundcloud
Another hearty recommendation: Jack Hayter's new album 'Abbey Wood' has just been released, you can read about it and stream it on Bandcamp. Jack's Taw is used on most tracks. Favourite track of the moment - 'I Sent My Love To Bendigo'.
Check it out here - Jack Hayter - Abbey Wood
This Brook tenor uke is winging its way to Australia.
Andy, Anita and I were delighted to see Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe playing in Topsham towards the end of April, Steve popped in the following day to see how his guitar was progressing and try out some pickup options. Not long now before we polish the Calder and start putting it together. With a bit of luck next month we'll be able to show you it strung up and ready to go!
Always good to receive photos of Brook owners. This photo was sent in to us by Keith, it's Phil and Keith with their guitars, not sure of the significance of the owl on Phil's shoulder! Maybe an alternative to a pirate's parrot?
More next month!
March News 2018
We were unable to make it in to the workshop several days this month because of the snow down here in the South West,
These photos were taken on the first day back, the snow had started to clear but it still looked picturesque out there!
A couple of weeks before, Wendy made it down to pick up her heavily customised, butterfly inlaid, Lyn!
Phill picked up his second Brook, this rosewood Tamar to go with his his Taw, he emailed " The Tamar is bloody fantastic, thanks once again for making such an amazing guitar, I've not stopped playing it!".
Geoff came down from Gloucestershire with Denver from Intersound and went away with this Little Silver we'd made for stock.
Beautiful figured mahogany with an Engelmann top.
Denver picked up this Taw for an Intersound customer -
Engelmann top, oriental walnut back and sides.
And also went away with this Weaver we'd also built for stock -
English cherry back and sides, European spruce top.
Mike was really happy with the re-build of his old Broadway arch-top we showed you last month in pieces.
We glued the braces back on, got it back together, gave it a coat of lacquer and it's now looking much healthier and playing comfortably again!
We were entertained again the other afternoon when Rob and Michelle dropped in, Michelle was down from Manchester for a couple of gigs they'd booked in the area.
The fan fret Tamar we're selling on behalf of a customer has now been dropped in price considerably to £3390 as we've had it on sale for a while now. Anyone interested get in touch.
Some years ago Chris part-exed his Tavy for a Gibson 175 and regretted it soon afterwards. We're pleased to say he's back in the fold again, he picked up this Taw from Intersound and is delighted with it. Here are Chris, Albert and Maisie enjoying a brief spell of March sunshine along with the new guitar!
Here's part of the latest delivery of rosewood that turned up this week.
Now, an update on Steve Tilston's Calder: Here's the roughed out neck, dovetailed and ready to fit the truss-rod and fingerboard
And here's everything in place. I'll soon be carving the neck and getting it ready for its first coats of lacquer
so - another update next month!
February News 2018
John Forrester's new album was released on the 23rd of February. Produced by Fairground Attraction’s Roy Dodds it features a fine, heartfelt set of new songs from John, accompanied by the impressive musicianship of singer and cellist Kath Williams, pianist Jenny Carr, flautist Linze Maesterosa, accordionist George Whitfield and violinists Paul Godfrey and Saskia Tomkins.
John's used his new Teign on the recording, you can sample the tracks here
This cherry Tavy is off to Project Music in Exeter this week.
We like to see photos of Brook owners and their guitars in a local setting, Rob, I'm pleased to say, was happy to oblige! Here he is with his cherry Clyst and his spaniel Mack in front of the knapped flint wall of Old Catton Church, near Norwich.
Rob got in touch with us towards the end of last month showing interest in a parlour sized guitar, either the Creedy in our Shop or the Clyst at Celtic Chords. Rob wrote " The guitar has formed a little triangle of the island, Devon to Aberdeenshire to Norfolk, please mention what a top man Pete at Celtic Chords is" - Consider it done!
Martin picked up his maple Okement, here he is in the orchard with the annual snowdrops in the background.
Rob Murch came in for his nylon strung banjo, we hope to get some YouTube clips of him playing his unique English classic banjo style on it very soon.
Michael sent us this photo of the attractive new hard-case for his Bovey from Kingham Cases.
On to the repair section:
We've a couple of arch-tops in: the first - a Zenith is in reasonably good condition for its age and shouldn't need a massive amount of work to get it playing well again.
However this Framus Broadway is pretty much going to require a total rebuild!
Check out this dustball - leaves, hair, fluff, dead flies and who knows what? If guitar detritus could tell a story......
Keith Christmas came in with the Fender Palomino we worked on recently, he's now using it for slide and has been writing a lot of his new material on it. He brought his Eggle over for Andy to repair the split in the side caused by somewhat overzealous activity in concert! Note: Keith's trainers are colour coordinated with his Hiscox case!
We had a second Eggle in for some repair work this month from Project Music.
We replaced the bridge on North Devon bluesman Jim Crawford's J45.
Here at the workshop we're really busy with a substantial number of orders in the book, we're in-between batches and didn't have too many new guitars to show you this month so we'll give you a little snap shot of what we're up to here: (clockwise from top left) Si preparing necks for carving, Andy fitting a pickup, Yasmin making linings and Jack making the latest batch of bodies.
We've two different torch inlays on the headstocks of the next guitars to be sprayed, here's one of them in the process of being inlaid.
Here's the latest photo of Steve Tilston's new Calder in its early stages.
More next month!
January News 2018
Hope you like the New Year's larger format, we should be able to show you the progress each month in a little more detail!
Wendy, from Gloucestershire, ordered this pretty Lyn
With a curly redwood top, abalone rosette,
Jack's butterfly inlay on the headstock
Some stylised butterfly position markers on the ebony fingerboard
And reclaimed mahogany for the back and sides.
Steve Tilston got in touch after buying a Tamar of ours, he liked it so much he's asked us to build our take on his signature 12/14 fret Martin Cole guitar.
Here's the plan - it's a smaller version of our Taw with a 12 and 14 fret body joint to give a little more access without need for a cutaway.
We extended our range of Westcountry river names to encompass Steve's local river in West Yorkshire! Here's the new Calder mould, we'll be starting the guitar shortly and keep you updated as we go.
Martin didn't have far to come from Woodbury to order this Okement back in June
J200 size, this is the largest guitar in our range.
Maple back, sides and neck
And 'Flo' inlay on the 12th fret.
Jon came down from Dorset for a new nut and some fettling on his mandola.
Jon's in the critically acclaimed duo Ninebarrow, nominees for the 2017 Horizon Folk Awards.
We've strung up Rob Murch's banjo now.
With the neck built out of maple from reclaimed from his village hall dance-floor, we replicated the shape of his old Weaver neck.The 12" pot is an 1880s Temlett made in England,
Jack inlaid Rob's initials based on his signature. Next month we hope to get photos of Rob, Wendy and Martin each picking up their unique instruments.
Pat from Las Vegas sent us this photo reminder that it's his twin Ian Anderson guitars' tenth birthday, we arranged with April, his wife, to get them over in time for Christmas day 2007 much to Pat's surprise! In the photo on the right he's strapped on the Tamar we made for him a couple of years ago, with a bit of luck we'll be meeting up with April and Pat this year if their trip over the pond comes to fruition!
Michael found this Bovey in Guitar Classics in Battersea, he sent us this photo of a performance in chapel at the House of St Barnabas, a rather exclusive club and venue in Soho!
Mark Foxhall, a fine bass player from East Devon dropped in his six string Peavey bass for conversion to a fretless, you can see he's happy with the result!
Tidy bench, tidy mind
December News 2017
George Staines, an actor and musician, came down from London on the train to pick up his new Tavy.
He wrote " The Tavy had its first professional outing on Friday, a regular paid session I do with some very fine musicians. Everyone was, to use a rather overworked phrase, blown away. It is interesting; it has so much forward projection of the sound that when playing it I'm unaware of just how much! They all loved the tone and clarity and superb separation of the notes.
Here's the walnut back.
This Lyn went across to Athens, Georgia to the second George featured this month!
For a change we didn't need a CITES licence as to export this as it was all in non-tropical woods - English cherry back and sides with a Swiss spruce top.
The Lyn's taken pride of place in George's extensive guitar collection.
This Taw went to Project music in Exeter
And this cedar Torridge will be heading off to a customer in London in the New Year,
Here's a shot of the reclaimed mahogany back and sides.
A montage of the latest stages of Rob Murch's banjo neck - carving the neck, the inlay of his initials and first coats of lacquer, we should get the instrument together early in the New Year, you may remember - this was constructed from maple reclaimed from the dance-floor of his village hall!
Amongst the odds and ends in this month we had this early Manson in, the top had been badly damaged by a friend's dog, we were really pleased with the almost invisible repair (so was the owner, his friend - we can't be sure about the dog!)
We had to change a lefty Eccleshall to a right-hander, fill and re-route the saddle slot, make up a new bone nut and saddle and give it a thorough set-up.
Finally - Season's Greetings to all our customers and friends out there.
We'll be back next year in a slightly different format, we'll be making the news photos a little larger with better definition to show you what we get up to each month.
November News 2017
The sun rising over the orchard early one November morning.
An unusually shy Richard, from Market Harborough, commissioned this Cary classical guitar from us to add to his collection of Brooks. He wrote to us after his visit "Back home safe and then spent a further two hours playing my new guitar which is just superb, thank you both so much. A tune has emerged which I'll record for you. It's a stunning instrument".
Here's the Alpine spruce top with a smoky pearl rosette
And the oriental walnut back.
John holds the record for the man with the largest collection of our guitars, he recently bought this Weaver - his 15th Brook! He's only ordered one directly from us, the rest he's acquired from various shops and auction sites around the country!
Pete, from Hampshire, has an 015 Teign we built for him ten years ago, here he's picking up his new 015 Torridge
With a top quality Engelmann top, abalone rosette and purfling
And beautiful figured bubinga back.
This Lyn with a cedar top and drop cutaway went out to Shoreline in the States,
It has a rosewood bevel, it's not a feature we're particularly keen on but seems to be increasingly popular.
On another guitar going out to the States, Jack's inlaid this Taw headstock with a flower to commemorate the customer's mother's love of gardening, and a shamrock to celebrate the family's Irish heritage.
It was good to see this striking Teign with the Celtic inlay again, in for a quick set up.
This photo was taken at the Manson Guitar Show on Exeter - four luthier friends - James Millman who took our guitar course, Andy Manson who taught us, along with me and top classical maker Kevin Aram.
Graham brought in his catch of Signal Crayfish from the pond here to show us. We were surprised how large they were. They're an invasive species that unfortunately wipe out the majority of the smaller local crayfish and decimate a lot of the smaller wildlife - as well as eating their own species!
Back to slightly more pleasant subjects next month for the final news of the year!
October News 2017
We're very pleased to announce that our latest Babbling Brook magazine is now available, it's a bumper issue this year with in-depth articles on Ant Phillips, Dev Patel, Marcus Corbett and Tony Hazzard, along with other Brook related features to occupy you for a while during these windy, winter months.
We've also articles on recording techniques from Robbie and Phil, a TV update and Pete Walton telling us why his Brook has probably been heard live more times than any other guitar we've made!
Many thanks to Martin for all his hard work and to all the contributors!
Download your copy here or from our homepage.
Richard came down from Manchester and intercepted this OM we'd made for the Shop,
It's the first time we've used the pre-aged torrefied spruce. It had a lovely open sound and plenty of bass from the moment we strung it up,
The colour hits the spot for me!
Here's the full length shot
And the headstock.
This one's for Phil in Wiltshire: a slimline Taw
With an Engelmann top
And English cherry back and sides with an oriental rosewood centre wedge.
Chris came down from Bristol earlier in the month to pick up the yew Tamar we featured in the August news.
Out with the old, in with the new: Robb Johnson recently found himself a second-hand Teign that he's delighted with so he's looking to sell the custom Tamar we made for him back in 2005. If you'd like further details go to our Shop and you'll find more information there.
Andy's moving along Rob Murch's banjo neck made from maple from his local village hall dance-floor.
Now on to our regular repair section: We've had in plenty of Gibsons this month for set-ups, fretwork and lowering the bridges.
Another one here with a nice Gibson 160E inspired '60s Hagstrom - also brought in so we could shave the bridge.
This is the second Brook cake on these pages, this one was for Sam's 40th and based on the left handed Taw we made for him in July.
Finally this month -
This little Russian seven string guitar with an adjustable neck was brought over in a sorry state, it once belonged to the customer's father, we were asked to glue the bridge back on and get it up and running. Coincidentally my very first guitar as a youngster was a similar six string from the same factory, given to me by my grandfather. I recently picked up another for a few pounds at a car boot sale and it actually sounds surprisingly good!
We hope that Ophelia didn't wreak to much havoc where you are.
See you next month after the clocks go back and we start to get used to those darker evenings again.
September News 2017
Peter came over from Germany with his wife to pick up his 015 custom Teign,
Jack inlaid this hawk on the headstock from a design he'd sent over.
Here's a close up of the top
And here are two photos of the Teign's first public outing with Peter and his son Nicholas playing at a wedding ceremony in Schwaikheim a few weeks ago!
We sent this Torridge off to Kevin in Derby,
The back and sides are local English walnut, Kevin emailed when it arrived to say "I can't stop looking at it and it sounds fantastic".
This OM is awaiting delivery to Gordon in Wiltshire,
The top's Adirondack spruce with an abalone rosette, diamonds and dot inlays in the fingerboard.
We've just started work on a neck for the superb classic banjo player Rob Murch. Rob had a 12" banjo pot from the late 1800s and maple from the dancefloor of his local village hall! More to come as we progress it.
I was down at the St Ives Festival earlier in the month when I came across actor and musician Bernard Faricy playing a Taw in the Salthouse Gallery. It rather took him by surprise when I went up to him and said that we'd made that guitar, it's accompanied him now for fifteen years!
Here's a picture of Scarlett Shocks taken recently at Party In The Park with her new Torridge, thanks to Margaret McGlone for the photo.
We had two visitors this month who'd bought their Brooks independently but took us up on the offer to have a look around the workshop and a free set up on their guitars, first of all Keith with his bubinga Torridge
And Stuart with his Tamar who was house-sitting in the area.
It was good to see this little Holly again, it was one I'd made myself with a removable neck for packing away in a travel bag. I swapped it for an old Rickenbacher lap steel years ago!
We renovated this Giannini: a refret, a new bridge, saddle and nut and it's playing well again.
We're in an old barn conversion here so we're used to the odd scrabbling noises from the bats and other small creatures, this squirrel's our latest, noisiest visitor.
The workshop is tricky to find at the best of times but there were some confusing directions for customers trying to find us earlier this month while the council were working on the roads in the area,
It seems all roads lead to Brook guitars!
August News 2017
Jack Hayter, former member of Hefner and Spongefinger, popped in to the workshop to say hello, he bought along the Taw we made for him many years ago.
Jack has this photo of himself performing with his guitar as his Facebook profile picture. We're looking forward to his forthcoming CD, a follow up to the excellent 'Sisters of St Anthony' release from a couple of years ago.
Andy and I took a trip up to North Devon the other afternoon to pick up some reclaimed wood we'd bought. Some old mahogany bar counters
And some Afrormosia boards.
Marcus, who we made the last Abbey for, sent us this photo - taken while he was working in this attractive location in Germany.
We made this black OM for Richard in South Wales, we sent it up to him and he wrote to us " The guitar has arrived safe and sound. I love it. It's exactly what I was hoping for. Now all I need is one in cedar and rosewood, and another with an Adirondack spruce top and....."
This Tamar is awaiting collection,
here's the back - local yew
Complemented with a yew head veneer, ebony tuner buttons and a snowflake inlay.
These two Brooks, a rosewood Lyn and a cherry Torridge, are going to Intersound in Dursley this week.
Rhyd popped in on his way to Cornwall with his family and his cherry Tavy. Here he is with Jasper, Harry and assorted instruments from our collection for a family shot!
Robbie sent us this photo from his performance at the Priming The Pump Festival last month.
Another Les Paul headstock repair, the second break in this case.
Now a couple of interesting ones: Beth from Portishead brought in this Chinese Ruan which had lost a couple of its bone frets, along with the early '70's Musicmaster bass which has a broken scratch-plate.
Another rather rare one here - a Burns Split-Sonic from the early '60's, interesting 'Wild Dog' option on the selector switch! In for some fettling.
Last up this month - one of Chris Ayliffe's collection, this old Arthur Froane twelve string, made in Germany for Barnes & Mullins, was one Chris used himself in his twenties. With some bridge restoration, fretwork and restringing it's playing well again and back with Tim, the Froane's grateful new owner!
If you've not taken it already - enjoy your summer break!
July News 2017
Sam, a psychologist, sent us this photo taken in front of his London office. We featured his beautiful spalted sycamore Taw in last month's news. He said " The guitar arrived safe and sound on Friday. It's fabulous! Really chuffed with how it's turned out. Thanks again for being such great craftsmen and an absolutely pleasure to deal with". Thanks Sam!
Steve from Intersound popped down for this Lyn for one of his customers. He brought down this pretty Victorian parlour guitar, unfortunately a little beyond practical repair, to donate to our collection of curiosities, all contributions welcome!
Rod came down with Steve earlier in the year to choose this figured mahogany for the back of his Lyn
And these new Schaller Grand Tune tuners.
I met Simon last year when he stayed at my favourite haunt - the Highwayman Inn at Sourton. We ended up playing some music together and he was particularly struck by my little Weaver. He came out to the workshop and ordered a Clyst. We met up again at the Highwayman when he came to pick up his guitar. Simon got in touch the other day " I'm loving the guitar, Cathy says whenever it's in my hand there's a big grin on my face. Says it all really, thank you guys" Thanks to Cathy for the photos from inside Cobweb Cottage.
There's a new album out from old friends of ours Wizz Jones and Pete Berryman, accompanied by Simeon Jones.
A great collection of Wizz and Pete's favourites, Pete's playing the Tavy we made for him nearly twenty years ago, Wizz is of course playing his Epiphone Texan! I'm looking forward to seeing them playing live down this way again in August.
Two guitars went off to Project music in Exeter: this black walnut Torridge
And this bubinga Taw
We thought this red crows-foot purfling would complement the striking bubinga, this'll be another option in the future should it take anyone's fancy.
Dave nipped down from Berkshire and snapped up this mahogany OM we'd made for our shop and only just strung up.
We had Ian Anderson's guitar in for some TLC. It's the original guitar we made for him while we were with Andy Manson over twenty years ago. Since then we've made him another similar sized one, also a Creedy and our latest model - the Abbey
Ian's using the Abbey as his main stage guitar now.
Ben Maggs was seen performing with his Cherry Tavy last weekend at the Priming The Pump festival. Thanks to Dave Pegg for the photo.
Andy's daughter Yasmin is a new addition to our workforce, she's coming in part-time to help out with the finishing in the spray-shop.
Jack made up a plug for Phil Taylor's Lyn to give him the option of blocking it if he needs to, it matches the sides perfectly.
Amongst the repairs this month we built up a very low bridge on this Gibson Dove for Soundpad in Barnstaple.
June News 2017
Tony popped down from London for a couple of days to pick up his 12th Brook, this lovely little tenor uke,
434 mm scale length,
With koa top, back and sides.
This bubinga 015 Lyn went out to Pascal in Switzerland, we inlaid the fingerboard with small Celtic knots.
It seems Pascal was happy with the result -
"The guitar has arrived, my God it is beautiful, I love it. Thank you for this wonderful work"!
This left-handed Taw is about to go off to Sam in North London,
The spalted sycamore on the back and sides of this are from a tree that came down in a paddock a few yards from Andy's house in Sandford!
The repair side of our business has been dominated by two brands this month - two Gibsons here,
Plus this nice old Gibson A style mandolin.
Secondly we've recently worked on this trio of Levins,
Along with a repair on the ribs on this vintage Martin.
Nature Watch: Amongst the other wildlife we regularly see in the orchard we spotted this jay sunning itself!
This month we lost another good friend of ours, David Oddy. He was a fine maker of not only guitars but many other types of instruments, David developed his signature mando-cello popularized by Phil Beer and Steve Knightly from Show of Hands. Nick, his son, will continue to make the Oddy instruments.
David was a regular visitor to our workshop and we'll miss him.
May News 2017
This Abbey is going out to Switzerland,
The customer wanted a moustache bridge rather than the standard pyramid bridge along with the inlaid rosette.
Golden Age vintage style tuners on the headstock.
Tony popped up for his new tenor uke,
Here's the full length photo,
Initials on the 12th fret.
Steve from Intersound came down with Julie, an enthusiastic Brook owner, accompanied by Rod to see how his new Lyn's coming along. Steve picked up his new rosewood Lyn and ovangkol Torridge for the shop.
Two nice walnut guitars here, we were making them to sell on our site but they were intercepted by Vintage and Rare in Bath who are going to be the latest in the exclusive line of Brook dealers!
Peter asked Jack to inlay this plaque of his black lab Indy to tide him over until he takes the plunge and joins the Brook owners club!
Martin, who puts together our 'Babbling Brook' occasional magazine, came down with his wife Di to pick up his new classical guitar made by our good friend Kevin Aram, it's a truly stunning instrument.
Never come across one of these before - A direct copy of an American Harmony Sovereign (above). It's an Otwin, made in 1963 in East Germany (below), not the prettiest of models admittedly but the Sovereign was used by a lot of blues players along with 1960's folkies still saving for their Martin!
A couple more set-ups here - a Gibson and a Huss & Dalton,
Also this unusual custom made Treslett came in for some repair work.
We lost a very good friend of ours this month - Chris Ayliffe. Chris was a fine player, guitar-maker, a banjo enthusiast and an important element in the expanding folk scene in London in the late '60s and early '70s, he was a good friend of Ralph McTell, John Renbourn, Jacqui McShee, Jo Anne Kelly, Davey and Wizz and integral in the formation of Pentangle, he also designed the sleeve for their final album 'Solomon's Seal'.
We'll all miss him.
April News 2017
Simon came down from Halifax and braved to lanes to pick up his new Taw, he also has the Tamar leaning against the wall here.
The Taw's an 015 model with the higher spec. trim:
Pau abalone purfling, diamond and dot pearl position markers, bound fingerboard and headstock,
Gold tuners, or in this case the black chrome Gotoh 510s.
Here's the bubinga back with a little sapwood bookmatched in the centre.
We showed you Jack's inlay of two swallows last month, the Torridge it appeared on was for Caroline, aka Scarlett Shocks, we'll look forward to seeing some videos of Caroline and the guitar in action!
Phil Taylor has just released his CD 'One Year On' - 12 tasteful instrumentals recorded with two of his Brooks and a Martin.
If you're interested in a copy you can get hold of him here Phil Taylor
John Forrester bought his cherry Tavy from Project Music a couple of years ago, he saw the rosewood Teign for sale on our site, popped down to see us and couldn't resist taking it away with him.
Toby, from East London, dropped in on his way down to Cornwall with his cutaway Tamar for a look around the workshop and a we gave his guitar a quick tweak. Toby's a huge Billy Bragg fan, a seal of approval in our book!
Four guitars boxed up and going off to Forsyth's in Manchester and Celtic Chords in Stonehaven.
Amongst the boxes was this bubinga and sitka Torridge for Celtic Chords, it sold within a week of being in the shop so they ordered another immediately!
Our friend Pat from Las Vegas here with the Tamar we made for him last year and the Ian Anderson pair we made for him ten years ago!
Another montage from the States here - here are some shots of Pete and his new Lyn against the backdrop of the mean streets of Richboro, P.A.
After a beautifully warm month we came in to a rather ominous sky over the orchard the other morning and, sure enough, had an unseasonal April shower of snow before the sun reappeared.
We replaced the rosewood fingerboard on this Les Paul with an ebony one for our old friend Richard James. Andy rewired it with Bare Knuckle pickups, pots and caps. Richard was very happy when we sent it up to him the other day - "The Les Paul has arrived and looks, plays and sounds fantastic. Thank you both very much for such a great job!"
Another Gibson here, unfortunately not their finest design - the plastic lightweight bridge. We've replaced a few over the years, we unbolt the original, fill in the holes and make up a rosewood bridge with the same footprint and a normal saddle, it improves the tone and volume immensely.
Ah banjos! The joys of working on instruments nearly a hundred years old, necks like a banana and no truss-rod! All the same this is a rather nice unusual John Grey Dulcetta zither banjo. And before you say anything - No we didn't just saw the neck off, it was built that way!
Who knows - maybe more banjos coming up next month!
March News 2017
Jim lives locally and came over for his new O.M.
He chose an abalone rosette to set off the Sitka spruce top,
Along with a three piece back of English walnut surrounded by local cherry which we'd cut and dried a couple of years ago.
David came all the way from Kent to pick up the nylon strung Torridge we featured in the February News.
These two Taws will shortly be on their way up to Forsyth's in Manchester,
A figured mahogany and Sitka spruce model along with a cherry and Sitka cutaway one.
This Lyn went off to Mick in Essex,
Check out the figuring on the back!
We also completed this Teign for the shop.
Here's a preview of an inlay of two swallows that Jack recently completed for a new Torridge for a customer we'll be featuring next month.
Again, we've been very busy with various repairs: more set ups and neck re-sets. Amongst the instruments we've worked on this month were this Greek bouzouki, a Gold Tone banjola and a Hicks mandola.
We've also been drawing up plans for a new model somewhere between the size of the Tamar and the Tavy.
It'll still be a while before you see the first finished prototype though!
February News 2017
While the snowdrops are still out I thought I'd start this month's news with an early morning photo of the workshop from the orchard.
Well - here an interesting one! A Tamar built entirely to a customer's design.
The customer sourced the ziricote and the bearclaw top.
He sent us detailed drawings of the rosette and bridge and was insistent on needing a bevel and the soundport,
Here's the headstock with black chrome Gotoh 510s.
John Taylor from Bath came down to pickup his walnut Lyn
And Malwina and Patryeja for Malwina's Torridge,
Rosewood with a sunburst Engelmann top.
A couple more sunburst repairs here: Firstly this Kalamazoo, we've re-set the neck, made a new bridge and given it a good set-up.
Secondly this 60s Levin, always a favourite of mine - another neck re-set some work on the bridge and saddle, work on the frets etc. Both guitars are back on the road and playing beautifully now.
Here's another Brook nylon strung Torridge, we occasionally get asked for these, although it's a crossover 14 fret instrument we use a traditional classical guitar bracing to get a responsive top,
Close up of the smoky pearl rosette, cutaway and bridge
Along with this fox inlay on the twelfth fret.
Three guitars here that we've just strung up for Ivor Mairants,
A figured mahogany Taw, a walnut Tamar and, in the foreground, a rosewood Torridge.
Ant Phillips sent down his Tamar 12 string for some remedial work and a set up.
A couple of months ago I showed you one of the worst repairs to a Martin top we'd come across!
We've re-topped it now keeping the strutting, binding and purfling as close to the original as possible and it's back in peak condition again.
That's all for February!
January News 2017
We're having a fresh start for the New Year with slightly larger photos for our monthly updates,
We hope you like the new format! Maybe not the best use of the larger scale -
Here's a photo of Andy and myself taken by Lars Mullen for a recent Tonetech interview.
These two guitars for the States are rather in limbo at the moment until we find out, along with other makers, how the new CITES regulations regarding rosewood are going to be administered and when we can obtain the necessary licences.
Marcus Corbett's new album is out now, Fiona Talkington on BBC's Late Junction liked 'the obvious warmth of Marcus Corbett....a rich amalgamation of both British and Indian music'. You can listen to and buy the album on Bandcamp.
TV's enjoying his new Taw and getting a lot of favourable comments about it!
These two photos were taken in Brussels during a five week tour with the UK Subs.
Rob here brought the stock OM and sent us this excellent photo. He emailed to say " Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what is a fabulous guitar… I feel very lucky to have snagged it before someone else wised up!". Robbie J previously said that this was one of the finest OMs he's ever heard!
And talking of Robbie, he popped down with his bass so we could take some photos for his article in the next Babbling Brook, he's certainly making the instrument his own with his bass arrangements of Celtic tunes, check them out on either his or our YouTube channel.
Here's the bass in the orchard amongst the annual snowdrop display.
Robbie's thinning out his guitar collection and has reluctantly left his long-scale bubinga 12 fret Tavy to see if we can find a buyer.
Singer and guitarist Paul Downes recently acquired this tenor guitar we made back in 2010,
You might recall we designed this with an Art Deco theme in ebony and maple,
Here's a shot of the instrument before top went on. Paul has a really extensive touring schedule this year, he's intending to incorporate the new tenor in his set so try and catch him if he's in your area.
Phil dropped in to the workshop with the intention of ordering a Tamar, coincidently we had a stock one in and ready to go so Phil snapped it up and saved himself a nine month wait!
Our friend Dave came down from Dorset to show us how his redwood and rosewood Taw had developed in the last year.
We've just strung up this little Creedy for our shop.
Caroline aka Scarlett Shocks came down to oversee the carving of the neck for her new cutaway Torridge.
We refinished and overhauled this Canadian guitar which someone had previously given an unsightly coat of green house paint,
The owner asked Jack to inlay the headstock for her.
Chris brought in a Kalamazoo for a neck reset along with this yew Taw we made about ten years ago, the fish hook inlay represents abundance and plenty, strength and determination. It's a talisman to bring peace, good luck and prosperity. We all need a bit of that!
Chris also brought along this very early Alister Atkin guitar to show us.
We needed to carry out a thorough set up on this Hicks cittern and it's now playing a lot more comfortably.
Now - we've got some interesting and unusual guitars, either being collected or sent off to customers next month so - just as a taster, have a quick look at this highly customised fan fret Tamar that'll be going off to France in a couple of weeks!
December News 2016
OK - Final monthly update of 2016!
Jon came down from York to pick up his new Torridge, it's Jon's second Brook, we'd built an 015 Creedy for him back in 2004.
This time he went for a Torridge with a Venetian cutaway,
With bubinga back and sides
Bubinga head veneer with the old logo to match his Creedy, Waverly tuners
And a sound-port
Yes - the obligatory photo of the interior through the sound-port!
James Bartholomew came to pick up his fan-fretted Tamar,
He went for a 630/650 mm scale
With a tight grained German spruce top and rosewood back and sides.
He asked Jack to inlay this dragonfly around the 12th fret,
here's the headstock with Gotoh 510s with ebony buttons, the fan frets aren't very obvious from the angle of this photo!
George came down from Milton Keynes for his new Brook uke,
A cedar top on this one
With figured mahogany back and sides. George is a fine player and we enjoyed listening to the new uke in action.
Another small bodied instrument here, the first Bovey for a while, this one with a tobacco sunburst top,
We built it for Chris who's a long-time supporter of Brook and has had many instruments from us over the years.
This beautiful Venetian cutaway Torridge with an Engelmann top has just gone up to Bristol,
The customer asked for this sea trout inlay on the headstock.
Jim's over in Australia right now but his parents collected his new cherry and sitka OM so it'll be waiting for him on his return, hopefully we'll get a photo in the New Year.
And another OM here, this time a bubinga one for Forsyths in Manchester,
We gave the purfling a red theme as you can see here alongside the sitka top.
Tinker came over from Norway to drop off his Weaver, he asked if we could narrow the neck a little for him, we did the initial work while he waited which may have been a bit of a shock!
Here's the re-finished neck ready to return to Tinker.
Jed and Maggie work in music therapy in care homes in their area, they also raise funds for Dementia UK, a very worthwhile charity I'm familiar with after losing my father to the disease earlier in the year. Anyone wishing to can donate here: https://www.dementiauk.org/donate/
I don't want you to think we've got a thing about Martins, we've had some very good ones through the workshop over the years but really - we've had a lot with finish problems and where the binding has sprung off, this one the fingerboard binding had fallen off completely and the binding on the waist had come away on all sides.
Now we did have a new one in last year where they'd forgotten to put in the neck bolt completely, whereas on this other new one they'd just omitted to add the odd washers on the tuners - slightly less important!
Amongst the other set-ups this month this Gibson 160E came in for a fret dress and set-up after the customer had previously paid for an unsatisfactory job on the same instrument by a local 'reputable' guitar shop.
This 1950s Gibson came in for a neck re-set and to change it to a lefthander, it's a good example of a previous appalling attempt at a vintage re-finish, not much we can do to save this one but it sounds pretty decent and the owner's not too worried about the look of it.
This Manson Cittern was sent down for a refinish and to re-fix the tip of the headstock after it had taken a knock.
Season's Greetings to all
We'll be starting next year in a slightly different format with larger photos in our monthly news updates so we hope to see you in the New Year.
November News 2016
TV picked up his new Taw,
We made this thin-line model with a detachable neck so Tim can take it apart and fly with it as hand luggage rather than risk it in the hold
As you can see...
The Shock of the New: TV's twenty year old Taw and the new one!
We made this Taw for Amy Newton, a fine singer/songwriter from North Devon, she chose some local cherry and walnut for the back and sides
And we inlaid the logo from her studio on the 12th fret.
Here's Amy debuting the new guitar at a gig in North Devon, she took her Martin along as well but the Taw sounded so good she didn't bother to use the Martin!
Ged came down from Salisbury for his new Florentine cutaway OM,
He chose this bubinga
And we went for a red theme again but this time with cherry binding.
Here's the full length shot.
I went up to the Intersound Guitar Show last week and delivered their latest Brook - this little rosewood Weaver.
On our YouTube channel now - check out the John Forrester trio with Linze Maesterosa & Jenny Carr performing 'Butterfly Catcher' at The Harrison in London. The song's from the forthcoming album......
This mahogany Torridge went off to Gerry in Washington, D.C.
Pete Berryman came over for a refret on his fifteen year old custom Tamar.
Andy ended up wiring up another of our friend Stan's guitars he makes to auction off for a children's charity. They're loosely based on Brian May's guitar, unbelievably there are about fifty solder connections to make on the one guitar, hope this one makes as much as the last!
Chris bought his Torridge from Ivor Mairants in London and came down by train for his free set up, we picked him up from the local station, took him back to the workshop, set up the guitar, and spent a couple of hours there before taking him back for his return journey.
David, in the States, sent us this photo of Wayne Henderson playing his Taw, master guitar-maker and player Wayne was giving a charity concert for a small group in the mountains of Virginia on Sunday 30th October!
This very nice Sobell came in for a set-up
And this gorgeous little 1955 Martin tenor for some T.L.C.
I guess the repair side of the business is all grist to the mill but we sometimes despair when we see the work of other repairers.
A couple of examples : These replacement tuners weren't even screwed home leaving a large gap between the plate and the headstock - naming no names but this was by someone in the business who should know better.
This Martin came in with replacement tuners delightfully held in position with gloops of araldite.
And how about this for a repair to a Martin soundboard - the customer decided the best approach after seeing this disaster was for us to re-top it! Well enough of that.
Finally - Tim debuting the new Taw in Penzance.
Thanks to Pete Knight for the photo.
October News 2016
When I got to the workshop the other morning the mist was just starting to clear, here's a photo with Nymph Woods in the background - and before you ask - no we haven't seen any!
Richard from Bristol popped down for his beautiful new Taw
With an Engelmann top,
It's a little deeper than normal with a figured mahogany back and sides.
Here's the back and front of the headstock.
John's an old friend of ours, he picked up his third Brook a few weeks ago, he'd always fancied an all mahogany guitar,
We made his new Tamar out of this lovely dark reclaimed mahogany.
Here's the close up
We're working on the new issue of Babbling Brook - Martin took a trip to London to interview founding member of Genesis and solo artist Ant Phillips who has three of our guitars!
Stephen, blending in well with the lime tree in the orchard, came down from Kent for a set up on his Torridge and his Bown. He also has a Lyn but found this second-hand mahogany Torridge in Project Music in Exeter, we're not quite sure of how it got there as we'd made it for a shop in the States!
Here are a couple of shots of the cutaway thinline Taw with a removeable neck we're making for T.V.
Just a few finishing touches before we hand it over!
Steve Lane sent us a photo of himself with his maple Tavy at Acklam Park Open Mic. Steve told us "folks said the guitar sounded wonderful" - and the songs of course!
This red gum Torridge went up to Intersound.
Now our regular repair feature:
Andy and I have had quite a few guitars on our benches this month, amongst them this Manson Magpie we made about twenty years ago,
And this Bluebird that Andy Manson made a few years ago.
Nice to see this Creedy again when it came in for some T.L.C.
We made it about fifteen years ago with an all-over black lacquer and dark pearl purfling
Along with a dark pearl vine inlay, we haven't had to inlay a vine for many years!
A rather nice old Levin, it's always a pleasure to see these.
This guitar came in for a set-up, it brought back a few memories - my first hand-made instrument was a similar model to this made for me in the early seventies by Norman Wood in Sennen, down near Land's End in Cornwall.
Visiting Norman's workshop all that time ago was the initial reason I decided I wanted to make guitars!
And here we are forty or so years on........
September News 2016
We seem to have had a lot of interest in our guitars this month and all but one of our stock Brooks have gone to new homes, we only have the rosewood OM left. Simon from Halifax liked the Tamar we sent up to him so much he came back a couple of weeks later and ordered a bubinga Taw! Phil from Dorset came down to pick up the figured mahogany 000.
John from South Devon collected his five string baritone uke.
There's a fourth course octave pair so you can get the best of both worlds - the high and low D!
Here's the ever popular figured bubinga on the back and sides.
Two sets of shop orders this month, the first went to Forsyths in Manchester,
From front to back: a cherry Torridge, a rosewood cutaway Tamar, a figured mahogany Taw and a rosewood Teign. We heard that two of these were sold shortly after they arrived!
These two, a cherry Tavy and a rosewood Taw are just about to go off to Project Music in Exeter.
Dev, who we've featured on our YouTube channel, came over from India to visit. He bought his Torridge from Ivor Mairants in London some years ago, so far Dev is holding the record for distance travelled to get his free first set-up!
Dev stayed with me for a couple of days and wanted to visit Poldark country so I took him down to St. Ives....
.....To visit the residents
Which reminds me - I was amused by this sign on a lamp-post at the Wadebridge Folk Festival.
Will Riding bought Fliss' Torridge and sent this photo of its first outing at the Chester Live Music Festival.
Lastly a couple of the latest photos of TV's Taw with the removable neck, here I'm giving it a final sand before it goes to the spray-shop
And here Andy's giving it its first coats of lacquer, we might well get this one together for next month's news.
I was looking out some bits and pieces for a Brook display at a local craft fair and came across these two photos of me and Andy from the early days in the mid 90s,
These the first batch of Mansons before we started concentrating on our own range - a little piece of obscure history!
More current Brook news next month.
August News 2016
Back in March Norman came down and selected his favourite set of spalted figured sycamore for his Torridge, here he is collecting the finished guitar.
The sycamore came down in a storm a couple of years ago, we picked it up from a paddock just a hundred yards from where Andy lives in Sandford!
Here's the completed guitar.
Norman came down when there were a fine display of snowdrops in the orchard here at Easterbrook so he didn't have to look far for inspiration for his inlay - again expertly executed by Jack.
Here's the alternative pearl fingerboard inlay that we've previously used.
We made this Weaver for our shop
And this Tamar, the two recently have been smapped up by customers in Birmingham and Halifax respectively.
Here are the talented Wheeldon family - Claire, Holly, Jamie and Summer playing some fine bluegrass for us! Claire came down with her cedar Teign for a set-up and some TLC.
A customer came down from Windsor to pick up his cutaway Taw, the top's a fine set of Sitka,
The back - rosewood with koa binding and a satin finish on the neck.
A couple of weeks ago Tony McManus visited Celtic Chords in Stonehaven and seemed to enjoy playing the batch of Brooks Pete had in stock!
Marcus Corbett popped in with his Taw to say hi and dropped in his latest CD, we'll talk more about that when it's released in October.
I went to see the excellent Urban Voodoo Machine the other week when they played a rare West-Country gig, they invited TV Smith on for the encore, you can check out the video on our YouTube channel.
Talking of the man - here's the latest photo of his new thinline Taw - made to be taken apart, hopefully making the flights abroad a little less stressful!
Here are Ayse and Sinan
Sinan Tuvan got in touch a couple of weeks ago asking if he might come down for a few hours to take some photos of the workshop, here's a preview of some of the photos you can see on his site at sinantuvan.com along with a video. We'll be adding it shortly to our YouTube channel, apologies in advance for my rather vague mumblings on the soundtrack and some rather dodgy playing on my tatty old Harmony! Lovely photos, thanks Sinan!
Now the inevitable repair section: Two headstock breaks for the price of one here, the most common break - a Gibson and far less common - a PRS.
We had this lovely 1965 Fender Jaguar in for some work on the frets, a saddle problem and a set-up.
This nicely battered '57 Martin came in for a new bridge.
And a slightly less desirable Martin, along with a Yamaha.
Last but not least - Roger, Exmouth's Town Crier, bought his fan fretted Sanden down for us to lower the action. He's obviously pleased with the result!
We've just come back from a long bank holiday weekend to lots of enquiries about custom builds and even more repairs so - more next month.....
July News 2016
Introducing our latest addition to the range - another small parlour, this one with a 595 mm scale, we've called it the Abbey:
Here's the body close up,
This one's for Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull so it has his trademark pearl rosette and he supplied a Fishman Rare Earth pickup for the sound-hole.
These Golden Age tuners seemed the most suitable option for the diminutive solid headstock.
To give you a true idea of the size here it is in the playing position. The guitar plays beautifully, Ian's hoping to debut it on stage later this year.
Nice to see a couple of our older guitars revisiting the workshop this month for a quick look over - a seven year old Tamar and a seventeen year old Torridge!
Ornithology Corner: We don't often see Jays, apart from in flight, around here, here's one in the orchard though along with a grey wagtail, if we're not mistaken.
We also had a batch of elderly Bantams that Andy led out here the other weekend
Robin Dransfield is highly respected nowadays for his work on violins and cellos after his heyday in the '70s with brother Barry in The Dransfields. He brings his guitars to us for renovation! We re-set the neck on his vintage Martin a couple of years ago, we've just re-set the neck and made up a wider fingerboard and bridge for his Levin and set up his old Harmony Sovereign.
We're pleased to see Robin's out gigging again with a couple of prestigious spots at the Sidmouth Folk Festival this year.
It's been another month when we've been trying to clear some of the many repairs that arrive on our doorstep: Amongst the other renovations were this Stella 12 string which had a broken truss rod, needed a neck re-set, a new bridge and gluing back the various braces that had come adrift.
A neck re-set on this Keech as well. There are plenty of Keech banjo ukes out there, the odd standard uke and tenor guitar but we can't find out anything about this seemingly unique Keech guitar. We welcome any information we can pass on to the owner!
Three more guitars in for work - this old Japanese Antoria J200, an old Fylde and Kevin Aram's Silvertone for a body respray it its original colour.
Kev also brought over this Precision bass body, he'd commissioned a local artist to paint it, we just gave it a couple of coats of lacquer to protect the artwork.
This Kalamazoo was a tricky repair, it came in pretty much unplayable with a bent neck and the intonation way out, yet another re-set on this, as well as sorting out various other issues - a lot of work but it'll leave here a really comfortable, useable instrument.
We were joined by Harris who helped with some very useful but dusty preparation work during his week here on work experience.
Martin, who edits 'Babbling Brook' sent us these two photos from a studio where he's recording with a friend of his, the consensus was that his Okement sounds wonderful!
June News 2016
We have several fine guitars to show you this month: First of all a cutaway OM for Tony who's now into double figures with his collection of Brooks!
This time he chose this stunning curly redwood for the top,
Bubinga for the back and sides.
Jack designed and inlaid this kingfisher on the headstock
And we designed this coded 12th fret inlay for Tony, if you can work out the significance send your answers on a postcard and we'll publish the winners cards in next month's news!
Next along for his new Taw was Clive from Chesterfield,
Here's the full length shot of the guitar,
With a bearclaw European spruce top,
Cherry and walnut back,
MW insignia on the 12th,
And our alternative shape for the slotted headstock.
Next out this month was this Bovey for Laurent in France,
When he received it he got in touch straight away - "it’s just “Wow” and amazing, so impressed by the sounds and voice delivered by this small beauty, thank you so much!"
A Taw, Tamar and Clyst for Ivor Mairants,
Two in walnut and a figured mahogany Taw.
A walnut and European spruce Torridge for Project
And here they all are packed up and ready to deliver.
Jack's working on a new Taw for TV, this time we're going to have a removable neck to give him the option of breaking it down for travelling,
Double cross bracing for more stability for the constant gigging. TV's been putting the photos of the build on his Facebook page and getting plenty of positive comments!
Pete Walton got in touch with us recently:
"I've had a Torridge for nearly ten years now and love playing the guitar, my favourite acoustic for fingerstyle playing. For the last four and a half years it's been with me in Matilda The Musical in London's West End, so at a rough estimate that's over 2 million people who've heard the instrument! It's such a lovely instrument to play, I always look forward to the parts in the show where you can hear the guitar solo and appreciate it's beautiful sound in isolation."
Checkout Pete's website along with his Acoustic Earth project on our links page.
Anne came along for a first set-up on her cherry Taw, she plays regularly in West Cornwall.
Finally - it was great to see our old friend and mentor Andy Manson who was over from Portugal for a holiday!
May News 2016
First strung up in May was our new 000 style Aune model we made to go in the shop. We came across this fabulous figured mahogany and used it for the top,
Back and sides,
As well as constructing the neck from it!
I'm afraid we had a couple of requests for us to be included in the customer's photos this month, if you're easily offended - look away now! Siegbert came over from Germany to collect his new Tamar.
Here's the full length shot
It's worth zooming in a little to see the figured, curly Douglas fir top and the English walnut back,
Zooming closer in on the top!
Tony bought his lacewood Torridge from Ivor Mairants about ten years ago, he took us up on our offer of a free first set-up last week.
Oh dear - us again - Pat, from Las Vegas, asked that we send a photo of the crew who made his new cutaway rosewood Tamar before we sent it off, he's promised his own photo in time for the next update.
Mike's a local player and runs an open mic in Calstock, he came up to the workshop recently and bought the local cherry Taw we had in stock.
Early in the month Paul picked up the Epiphone that Andy had converted from right-handed to left. We were all really pleased with the result -
Andy disguised all the old holes and refinished the top.
A customer bought in this vintage Stella 12 string that arrived from the US unplayable and with a broken truss rod, we're resetting the neck and putting in a new rod, hopefully a shot of it complete before too long.
Three interesting instruments in for fretting or refretting work recently: this double cutaway Fossey banjo/guitar, an Orpheum plectrum guitar and a very ornate Vega plectrum banjo.
We've mentioned the new parlour we've been making, here it is before I carved the neck and prepared it for the spray room,
And here's the latest update - masked up and awaiting its first coats of lacquer.
Another preview here: the customer is coming down to pick up this lovely cherry and walnut, fruit and nut Taw in June, more pics then!
Here's Nigel's maple Taw that was separated from its neck by over enthusiastic baggage handlers on its way out to New Zealand recently, back together and ready to brave the airways again.
You may remember we've undertaken several repairs on Phil Bird's yew Tamar, firstly a speaker fell off a shelf through one of the ribs, then a few months ago in Cyprus the guitar was sat on after an enthusiastic Greek dancing session! This time it's Phil in the wars, after rupturing a disc and being laid up with heavy duty painkillers for a month he found the only guitar he could comfortably play was his little walnut Bovey.
We wish him a speedy recovery!
April News 2016
Robbie came down to pick up his new Okement bass, here he is in my kitchen giving it its first work-out!
This is the second instrument we've completed using the new J200 style shape.
Here's a close-up of the bearclaw Engelmann top, we used a red theme for the purfling and rosette
To complement this stunning figured bubinga back and sides.
Robbie chose these distinctive Da Vinci Schaller tuners and we inlaid a small Celtic knot on the headstock.
We finished this walnut Lyn and red gum Tamar for Intersound and Steve and Denver came down to pick them up.
Andy delivered this rosewood Taw and a bubinga Taw to Project Music in Exeter.
We made this English cherry Taw for stock, you'll see it on our 'Shop' page along with other guitars available directly from us.
René came across from Holland to pick up this cherry Torridge he'd taken a fancy to from the shop.
Jake popped in with his trio of fan fretted Brooks for a quick tweak (the guitars not Jake!)
Now for our regular repair section:
Firstly Phil's Tamar, we mentioned last month that it had been sat on and the neck had been unceremoniously detatched along with parts of the top, it's back together again now, none too worse for the experience!
Paul brought this Epiphone in for a major overhaul, we're swapping it over to a left-hander, it's surprising how much work is involved, you'll see the results next month.
Here are a brace of Guilds, the one on the front was in for a set-up and fret dress, the one behind for a neck re-set.
We had to repair a few cracks and re-glue the bridge on this pretty little Victorian parlour guitar.
Which reminds me - Tom, in the U.S., sent us this photo of his Ian Anderson guitar in its beautiful new custom made case,
And speaking of which - here's a preview of a new model we're making for Ian.
Lastly a photo of Tony Hazzard with his Brooks in concert at the Convent in Gloucestershire, this must be one of the UK's most beautiful venues.
March News 2016
First off the mark this busy March we'd like to apologise to the very talented Ellie Goulding for appropriating this photo from her Facebook page, she was in No.Tom Guitars on Denmark Street buying a Taw.
We made this custom Taw for Giles Andreae, children’s author and creator of Purple Ronnie,
Giles couldn't get down to pick up the guitar so we shipped it up to him, he sent us down these photos of himself with the guitar enjoying a pleasant Spring day together by the Thames!
You might have noticed that Giles decided against the pick-guard, here's a close up of the position markers we came up with to make the design just a little different.
Chris was down from Croydon to pick up his beautiful 'fruit and nut' Lyn.
The back features the last of the walnut from Kew Gardens with a centre stripe of local cherry, the neck woods repeat the theme,
Chris came up with this design for the fingerboard inlays which we cut from phosphor bronze and Andy turned the two different sizes of matching position markers out of the same material.
Chris also chose this dark Sitka top.
This cutaway O.M. was another fine guitar we completed this month,
It goes without saying it was custom made for a keen fisherman!
The back is some of our heavily figured bubinga, quite a popular choice recently -
Bubinga again for the head veneer with the stylish gold Gotoh 510s.
Another cutaway here, this time a Florentine style on a walnut and German Spruce Tamar for Celtic Chords in Stonehaven.
Another new model on the go - this time an even smaller short scale parlour.
We built this much travelled, jazz influenced Taw nearly twenty years ago, it came back for a neck reset and we returned it to the customer playing like a dream.
Unfortunately, in this case, it was followed by a nightmare! - on the way out to New Zealand it suffered a broken neck in the hands of a rather too casual baggage handler - looks like we'll be seeing it again when it returns to the U.K.
Mr Bird's guitar has been in the wars again, Phil and Anna were in Cyprus playing a concert and sometime later SOMEONE sat on the guitar.
For the perpetrator's future reference this illustration might be of use, to the left is a guitar, to the right is a chair.
Norman visited the workshop and picked out the woods for a Torridge,
He's had first pick of this stunning spalted sycamore we found a year back and is now ready to use.
I went along to the annual RMMGA meeting in a wonderful old mansion in Gloucestershire, alongside a display of Brooks there were also fine guitars on show by Adrian Lucas, Tony Thompson and Alan Marshall, guests included Amrit Sond and Clive Carroll but the highlight was probably watching Dave Wood and Louise Loft working up an obscure Sandy Denny song together!
Stephen Kenyon called in and we fitted a Fishman Rare Earth Blend system in his Tamar.
Marc came up from Plymouth for us to fit a couple of pickups on his two guitars, Many years ago we made a Tamar for his older brother, since then Marc's become a fine blues guitarist in his own right, hopefully he'll be a future Brook owner himself!
We had a couple of nice messages from the U.S. this month: First of all Tulley, who we made the recent left handed classical guitar for, sent us this photo taken at Peak Recording in Bozeman, Montana. He added "Thank you, again for such a beautiful and inspiring work of art".
We had the pleasure of making two guitars for Woody Mann about twenty years ago, we've met up with Woody a few times since and we still hear from him, earlier this month he got in touch to say:
Hi Simon and Andy,
Long time... Hope you both are well. Just wanted to let you know I've been playing the guitar you made and it is sounding and feeling great. Time has opened the guitar up and it has found its voice - a beautifully even and rich tone from the highs to the lows. It's just fun to play .... Just wanted to let you know. Great work.
All the best from New York. Woody
February News 2016
We're featured in the March issue of Guitarist with a double workshop spread, thanks again to David and Joby for that!
We'd like to announce another new model, this time the OOO size Aune, here's a full length shot of it,
Mark commissioned it and here he is picking it up.
It'll be our biggest body 12 fretter, with a 650 mm scale length,
Here's the rosewood back
With the attractive pomelle binding.
And here's Mike picking up his Torridge,
He chose Jack's eagle inlay for the headstock.
Nick here recently bought this Lyn. He said “over the last 45 years I’ve played all the very best makes of guitar, and have to say this Brook Lyn is one of the very best, if not the best". Nick's impressed enough with his purchase that he's already contemplating his next Brook!
Tony Hazzard has a new album out - The Hallicombe Sessions, we thoroughly recommend it, it's recorded, mainly live, by Tony at home, accompanied by Utah musician Matt Harding, check out 'Loving On The Run' from it on the Brook YouTube channel.
The video was shot at the album launch at the Green Note Cafe in London.
John Forrester recently bought his Tavy from Project Music in Exeter, he's a musician friend of Robb Johnson and Tracey Curtis, both also Brook owners!
His last album was released in 2014 so we're looking forward to hearing the Tavy on the next album, check out John's first video with it, shot at Venford Reservoir, on our YouTube channel.
Here's a shot of Jack with Andy's new fixture in position, the rather complex piece of engineering ensures we cut a precise binding rebate.
Here are a couple of photos of Pat Nestor's cutaway Tamar before the guitar is packed up and sent off to Pat in Las Vegas,
It's our more ornate 015 model with pau purfling and an Adirondack top.
Alan, from St Ives brought his Taw from us sixteen years ago, back at the time Alan wanted a matt finish, he decided recently that he would like the full gloss treatment so we were happy to oblige!
Plenty of set-ups and repairs this month again, amongst them some fingerboard work and fretting on this Phil Davidson mandola for Phil Bird.
Here's Rob from Model Folk along with Kate, also playing a Phil Davidson mandolin, and Robbie. We fitted a Headway pickup to Rob's McIlroy tenor while Robbie looked over his, soon to be completed, acoustic bass.
Second in the series of photos to show why makers like ourselves sometimes are unable to put as much time to playing our guitars as we do making them!
Hopefully everything will heal up and we'll be playing together again next month!
January News 2016
We start the year with John picking up his Kew walnut Torridge, just one more set of this coming along on a guitar next month.
Dave Rich is a local musician who runs open mic sessions most days of the week around Devon and Cornwall as well as gigging in his own right, he came over to collect his new Taw,
He provided the Rare Earth single coil, one of the most reliable pickups around,
Here's the walnut back.
Bernard came down from London for his Clyst,
Normally this would be a 12 fret model but we re-designed the strutting and sound-hole position to make it our first 14 fret Clyst,
Here's the bubinga back with contrasting maple binding, along with a maple neck
And gold Waverly machine heads.
Another Carey classical guitar here - this one, a left-hander, for Tulley in Montana.
This is Tulley's second Brook, the guitar is winging its way over to him as I'm writing this so hopefully we'll get a photo for next month's news!
Talking of classical guitars - here's Bob with the very first classical we made twenty years ago, Bob came over with that common problem - the lid fell on the guitar and dinked the top when he was getting it out of the case, luckily this time it didn't do much damage and we were able to do a quick spot repair.
Leading on to repairs - as you can see they've started building up again:
Some of our Brook owners may have been slightly less conscientious about guitar safety over the winter break (pun intended) whether alcohol had been consumed or not we don't know. Names have been withheld to protect the guilty parties! This Tavy slipped over on a wooden floor.
Above we have the before shot and below its back together again.
Here are stages of a Bovey headstock repair - this involved gluing the break and re-spraying the neck. In the lower photo you can see part of a fine hand-made case the customer had made for the instrument.
This Torridge suffered its injuries when the hanger came off the wall and shattered the tail block and ribs,
Here it is back together again.
Andy did quite a bit of work on this lovely old Keech Banjo-uke, now it's been set-up properly it's become a really playable instrument.
Amongst the other repairs and set-ups this month we had a re-fret of this Martin D41, complicating matters we found the celluloid binding had shrunk and was falling off so we had to deal with that before getting to the re-fret.
Anyway - here it is back in all its glory.
That's it for this month, we also sent a few guitars up to Intersound in Dursley, unfortunately we forgot to photograph them!