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!