A very Merry Xmas to Yew…
This is Tom Hardy braving the winter cold to pose outside the Brook workshop with his new Torridge in Spruce and Yew
We continue to use Yew as a tonewood even though it is often overlooked by other luthiers. Why? Because we like it!…
….And so does Tom. Which is more to the point!
Accompanying Tom this month are Roger Cockram seen here collecting his brand new Tavy…
…and Mathew Young, whose Brook Torridge was shipped all the way to the USA – so Mathew could enjoy it while sitting on his porch. Mathew came across our guitars from visiting the
Michael Hurley and Woody Mann websites. Well that seems to have put a smile on all three of their faces… Job done?
So what shall we do next year? More of the same?
Call us with your suggestions!
With Autumn upon us we’ve had to stop ‘road testing’ the guitars outside while sitting on the lawn and get down to some serious building – using some serious woods, as we love to do. First off the production line this month comes this wonderful ‘fruit ‘n’ nut’ creation
That’s Cherry / Walnut in case you hadn’t guessed and this particular Tavy is now available from Intersound in Dursley
Then there’s this beatiful bit of Rio on this Lyn for local favourite Chris Ayliffe
Back view above, front view below. Nice bit of inlay round the fretboard on this one too
We’ve also been working on this custom drop cutaway for Simon Othen who plays with ‘The Machine Breakers’…
…as well as this nice Blackwood and Maple neck (an attractive choice) on this Taw for Tom Brookes (No relation, although we deliberately mis-spelled our Logo on his guitar’s headstock)
And just to sweeten things off we’ve done this sugarcube inlay for Gary Wallace
It’s been a very busy month but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s all been worthwhile in the end. Sweet as…
This is a lovely one-off semi acoustic instrument we have just completed Our client wanted something a bit jazzy
And that is exactly what he has got here. We don’t make many of these but we have to admit that this one is rather fetching with its ‘f’ holes, ebony scratch plate and volume / tone knobs and its tobacco sunburst finish
We were so happy with this one and were on the point of thinking of ourselves as a jazz guitar workshop when Stuart Ryan showed up to remind us that what we do best is making top quality acoustic guitars
This is Stuart’s new Lacewood and Sitka Baritone Tavy and just hearing him put it through its paces leaves us in no doubt that we’ll be concentrating mainly on the acoustic guitar in the future
The strange thing was that just as we had taken these pics and reassured ourselves that we were out-and-out acoustic builders, Stuart sat down with the Tavy and started playing loads of those jazzy chords on it!
Here is a lovely bunch of fives for you
This is the Brook team taking a last chance to road test this little quintet of guitars which are ready to head up to London to Ivor Mairants music shop in Rathbone Place,
just off Oxford Street
There are some lovely instruments here and we don’t expect them to hang around at Mairants for too long – they usually get snapped up pretty quickly so if you want to give them a play you’d better be quick
Also we can’t let this month pass without noting the recent death of Eric Roche
Eric was extremely well known and hugely repected in British guitar circles and further afield, both as an exemplary and exciting performer and also as a valued teacher. He will be missed
This is part of a large shipment of recently acquired American Red Gum which is a wood we have had to seek out in order to keep up with the increasing demand from you lot
We’ve made quite a few guitars with this wood recently: none more fetching than this Torridge sported by Jordan Humber who recently paid us a visit
Jordan was more than happy to do the familiar Brook photoshoot and sit on the lawn under one of the many trees outside our workshop and coax the first tunes out of his new guitar
This Red Gum is a bit of a success story for us and we are constantly surprised that few other builders use it because it is so bright and strikingly featured as well. It’s definitely an option for players who like to stick out from the crowd…
… players like Jordan himself who is certainly one to watch out for in future
These two guys are Peter Heredge and Dave Towers and they have a couple of things in common
As well as the fact that they have just taken ownership of their new Brook guitars, they both specified that they would like a bit of custom decor on the form of inlays
Dave wanted a 12 fret inlay of his name and a headstock featuring a stag with some pretty impressive antlers
Peter wanted a specific wave image on his 12th fret and we were happy to oblige
We are finding more and more customers want this kind of custom job done and we are dedicating more time to it as a result
If you have any imaginitive ideas for inlays, let us know them and we’ll be happy to put them on a guitar for you
We have just sent 3 of our guitars off with Steve here from ‘Intersound Music’ in Dursley in Gloucestershire and if you happen to live near the area then you will have a special opportunity to try them out this Wednesday (15th of June)
Place and time is: 7.30pm at the Prince of Wales on the A38 between Dursley and Berkley featuring an evening of music from Adrian Byron-Burns and a chance to try the Brook guitars and one lucky attendee will win a competition with a guita as a prize (Not a Brook)
A couple of things we are proud of at Brook Guitars are that our guitars travel across the globe through many time zones and that the people who buy one usually come back for more
So while the shadows lengthen in the evening sun and Yves Pilon from Canada is looking through his impressive array of guitars, including a couple of Brooks and deciding to play this new slotted headstock Creedy…
…Terence is in Holland playing a bit of Bach at lunchtime on his new nylon strung Bovey, again with a nice slotted headstock…
…and Amy Smithard and her husband Ross are tucked up in bed in Australia (no we can’t provide any pictures) but before they hit the hay they did this duet on Ross’s Kit and Amy’s brand new mini bouzouki.
So we can probably assume that at any time on any day, somebody somewhere is playing a Brook! Feel free to join in.
This lovely piece of walnut belongs to the very lucky Andrew Horth
Andrew liked what we’d done with the walnut so much that he picked up a few stray offcuts, handed them to Jack and asked him to do some inlay wizardry on the headstock in the form of a howling wolf
Jack was happy to oblige and went one better by offering to do a further custom job on the fretboard: this time featuring Andrew’s initials inlaid in abalone
These are just some of the many ways we can customise new guitars, so that players can feel that they’ve got something truly unique and with a completely personal touch
Doug McCarthey looks like a guitar player facing an enjoyable quandary: which lovely new walnut guitar to put down first in order to play the other one?
Doug liked our batch of local English Walnut so much he had us salvage a few smaller pieces in order to make matching headstock veneers for this pair
Doug decided that he’d like a Taw for playing in standard tuning but would prefer something a bit bigger for when he likes to play in dropped tunings like open ‘C’
The larger guitar is a Tamar and is a size above the Taw.
Doug’s Tamar also has a longer scale length because it’s to be used primarily in dropped tunings
However you want to tune them, or whatever you care to play on them, that Walnut’s going to give you some nice tone. We think it’s quite easy on the eye as well
This is Andy Guttry who has just picked up a couple of guitars he ordered: a Creedy with moustachio bridge and a Santos Rosewood Tamar
Andy plays with local band ‘Drivin’ South’ and it looks like he’ll now have to expand his on-stage guitar rack to make room for the new additions
The fretboard of the Creedy shows off a nice snowflake inlay
And this shot of the back shows the quality of the striking local walnut we used in making this guitar
We’re looking forward to working with a lot more of this walnut as the year progresses as we have some very good quality sets in stock at the moment
We’d like to wish you all a very Big Happy New Year from all at Brook Guitars
And while we’re talking ‘Big’ we’d like to kick off the year with a couple of Big Big guitars which we’ve just completed: starting with this Otter fretless bass
This bass belongs to Rick Cook of ‘Dirty Money’: an Exeter-based band. Rick and his son both did a building course with us recently and they both built rather fetching ukuleles. Good to see that Rick likes the big instruments too though!
Another customer who came back for something a bit bigger is Lucy Monroe. We made a Tavy
for Lucy a couple of years ago and this time round she has chosen another Tavy model but with a larger baritone scale length
We particularly enjoyed making this attractive guitar because of the gorgeous Myrtle back and sides and the adventurous inlay which was designed by Lucy’s husband, Dave.
We’re now looking forward to making some more guitars of all shapes and sizes in the months ahead: so all you have to do is to keep telling us what you want to be playing!
News Archive 2004
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We’re very proud to feature so prominently in this new CD by Stuart Ryan
Stuart obviously doesn’t like to be far away from his Brook Torridge as we can see from the front and back pictures of his artwork – (he also uses it on the recordings which are a mix of his own compositions and a few standards)
The renowned Martin Taylor has described Stuart as “One of the finest guitarists of the younger generation” – so he’s well worth seeking out if you enjoy adventurous and exciting guitar music
Stuart’s Torridge is a custom model in Rosewood and Sitka and he’s obviously pretty happywith it because we’re going to be working on a second instrument for him and also does many teaching sessions and clinics. He has also recently started writing articles for ‘Guitar Techniques’ magazine.
For those of you who have been monitoring our love of small travel guitars and Ukuleles here is a real treat. Hot off the Brook Guitars production line comes the first ever Holly in an attractive cedar and rosewood combo
This is the newest addition to the stable and we are very proud of this particular fledgling: this is the smallest 6 string we have made
This picture gives you an idea of scale as the Holly sits on a small Jumbo.
The body is actually made from the same mould as a Concert size Ukulele so this is small even by travel guitar standards and yet is surprisingly playable with a 487mm scale length
Watch out for 4 of our guitars at the Ivor Mairants stall at this years’
Music Live Festival on the 13th – 15th November at the Birmingham NEC
Here are a couple of the more remarkable Brook Guitars which have rolled off the production line recently and are now off to their proud new owners including Mr Mark Robinson pictured here
Mark is soon off to a convention in Aspen Colorado and his Tamar is suitably prepared for the trip as it features a mountain scene which was done by Jack (right)
Jack’s prowess as an inlay artist can also be seen on the headstock of this cherry 12 string Tamar featuring a Red Kite
We are happy to set new challenges in front of Jack so if you want a custom inlay done on your guitar then call us… and draw us a picture … or just describe it and we’ll put a few ideas together. Then we’ll leave Jack to get on with it.
Those of you who have more than a passing interest in Brook Guitars will know that we build our instruments min an idyllic setting: in a converted barn in the beautiful Devon countryside on the edge of Dartmoor. We can’t just hang on to them all here though; there comes a time when we have to release them into the bigger wider world out there. Some of them end up in the outback of Australia or up in the Norwegian Fjords.
This lovely little Creedy with custom Moustachioed bridge has winged its way to the windy city in the USA: Chicago – ‘the Home of the Blues’
Well, at least that’s what we can make out from Mike Jaron’s T-Shirt. He sent us this pic of himself with his new guitar in its new home.
We’ve been looking at this pic and wondering… ‘Is that the Sears Tower in the background? Answers to the usual address.
With the Olympic Games going on at the moment there is an element of competition in the air. These two gentlemen seem to be fighting it out for the gold medal in the ‘Number of Brooks Accumulated’ category.
First up is Mr Tony Kerry who has recently taken delivery of a wonderful new Tamar with cutaway to add to his 5 other Brooks
Displaying a wonderful aspect from both front and back (Bearclaw Sitka Spruce and Santos Rosewood) the judges will find it difficult to award anything other than a perfect 10 for style
Pushing him all the way though is Mr Steve Bennett from Ely who has recently added this concert Ukulele to his own collection; and this little uke also deseves a perfect score for artistic impression for the attention to detail it exhibits.
These two heavyeights are both currently sitting on a score of 6 Brooks each and spectators should realise that this is a Marathon and not a sprint so sit back and enjoy the show and we’ll let you know who prevails in this clash of the Titans!
Something old and something new for this month’s updates. This battered old thing is one of the first ever Brook guitars we produced.
It’s been about a bit, as it’s a hard-working, touring guitar which belongs to none other than TV Smith (see our Gallery of Brook artists) and has returned to base for a bit of TLC
It seems it recently had a disagreement with an unnamed airline and came off second best. Actually that’s nothing compared to some of the treatment TV Smith subjects it to in his stage performances!
To alleviate the stress of viewers who were offended by the previous pictures, here are some new gleaming guitars and ukes straight off the production line.
They’ll soon be in the hands of their new owners… And no, we don’t let TV Smith do any road testing!
Do not adjust your monitor – this custom headstock is meant to be asymetrical
Here is Kevin modelling the finished guitar – A Dart with Florentine cutaways
And if that’s not enough to satisfy your appetite for the month of June then feast your eyes on the fancy Bridge and beautiful Walnut on board this lovely Creedy Parlour guitar.
As well as the asymetrical headstocks, some of our customers have taken a liking to this moustachioed bridge which we first began doing last year
Look in next month to see what our enterprising customers have chosen to keep us busy with over the summer
This is Cams enjoying the sunshine in his back garden along with the darling buds of May and a brand new Bovey which we’ve just finished for him
It’s quite lovely as you can see from this close up
It also bears Cams’ own choice of inlay which is appropriate for a Scotsman – this eyecatching thistle
This happy couple are now off to live contentedly in Luxembourg. Now that’s a first for us as far as we know. Any Luxembourgers who own a Brook, please feel free to write to us and correct us if this is not the first of our guitars to make it to your area
As well as featuring some of the finest Rio on the back and sides of this Bovey the fretboard is also in this classic wood
And as if that’s not enough, Cams is taking a little and large approach to our guitars – this is just the first instalment – he also has a Baritone on order with us which we hope will be just as spectacular as this little chap
We recently furnished Stuart Ryan here with a new guitar. Nothing special about that you might think – we make new guitars for great players all the time
But when we were introduced to Stuart we realised that he was the third player who has won the prestigious ‘Guitarist Magazine’ guitar player of the year award and has also chosen to play a Brook
The others are Michael Watts who won in 2001
And Steve Yates who won in 1999
One thing that these guys have in common is that they are obviously extremely talented. We are simply very proud that they also have all chosen to ask us to build their instruments for them. They are all professional players and we can’t hope for a higher accolade than to be making guitars for players of this calibre.
This lovely Cedar topped Torridge is soon headed off to warmer climes in Portugal
While it’s he’re calling it the ‘Fruit ‘n’ Nut guitar because the back features a piece
of Cherry sandwiched between two pieces of local English Walnut. The neck also features a Cherry strip
It has a delicious Walnut veneer on the headstock as well
Now that’s quite a tasteful and tasty dish!
Koa and cutaways are on the menu for February this year. This pic shows
us testing a Koa-topped Lyn and an interesting cutaway Taw with bazouki tuning
Here is a close-up of the Lyn. Back and sides are from Mahogany and this unusual wood combination gives this little guitar a very unique sound and character. The pyramid bridge and abalone also help set it apart from the rest
This pic shows a Dart we’ve been working on which features a few custom options to the standard model. The cutaways are Florentine to give it an even more strinking curve than usual
Coupled with this modified body, we’ll be adding an asymmetrical headstock and bridge so watch this space to see how this one comes out
Mike Keogh here has just collected this gorgeous custom Taw to help him see in the New Year
It comes with some of the finest local English Walnut we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with
Not to mention the added touch of a Triscal inlay in abalone on the headstock
Now that goes rather nicely with those ebony tuners doesn’t it?
The last bulletin of 2003 is all about globetrotting. This is Paolo Lubrano.
Paolo is now officially the most determined of Brook customers having come all the way from Turin in Italy to visit our workshop – he got a flight from Italy to Stanstead, a taxi to a hostel overnight in London, a train to Exeter, a connection to Yeoford where
we picked him up in the car. We booked him in to our favourite B&B in Yeoford that evening, took him out for a meal and he travelled back the following morning
He went away with a Lyn that we had lying around waiting for a suitable suitor – plus our appreciation for his endeavours
And this is Ross Smithard from Australia. G’day Ross…
Ross ordered a Kit mini travel guitar with a slotted headstock and Fishman Matrix pickup system. He sent us this picture of him taken the other evening with his new instrument just after it had arrived.
It’s heartwarming to know that our guitars are becoming sought after across the globe and we’d like to thank Ross and Paolo for seeking us out when there must have been simpler options in their vicinity.
Custom touches are an increasingly popular way to personalise your instrument and that is exactly what guitar picker Kai Rune has opted for here
Kai is a Norwegian living in London and has decided to incorporate a bit of Norway on his headstock with this fjord scene. Kai supplied a photo and we set about trying to re-create it in an inlay. We decided on smoky pearl, walnut, spalted beech and thuja burl for the most appropriate materials and the end result is quite striking.
Kai’s initials are also inlaid at the 12th fret and overall the effect is a very individual Tamar
He opted for a lovely wood combination of English flamed walnut for the body and purfling with dark bearclawed sitka for the top.
Now that’s good taste!
It’s been a while since we made one of these but this is an example of our Otter acoustic Bass, being modelled here by Kevin, one of our team of luthiers
The last Otter we made was a fretless model but this one is fretted which is the preference of Mr Eric Anderson from Norway who seems to have taken a liking to some of our less common models (see News for June 2003) This particular Otter is in Indian rosewood and European spruce with an 864mm (standard 34″) scale length and has a tobacco sunburst finish
Moving from one end of the spectrum to the other, we recently had the pleasure of attending some concerts by the inimitable Michael Hurley who took a few moments out of his busy schedule to try his particular magic on one of our Bovey travel guitars. They seem to have got on rather well together
We had to prise them apart afterwards but we took these pics just before
The gigs were fantastic – in case you were wondering
One of the local woods we like to use in our shop is Yew. It isn’t employed as widely as Rosewoods and Mahogany in the guitar building world but there are some who like to seek out something a bit different and we are impressed with both the sound and the appearance of this tone wood.
This is a Yew-backed Taw and it belongs to Tim Marks here who obviously likes a few personal touches such as a slotted headstock and a bit of 12th fret inlay for good measure.
While you lot have been enjoying the heatwave we’ve been getting on with producing our recent crop of instruments. There are a whole load on their way to Hank’s Music
Store up in London but this one won’t make it that far as it has already been intercepted en route by Mr John Tootle (pictured)
It’s quite a unique instrument – A cocobolo Tamar with a scale length of 640 mm which means it’s a nice hybrid size for players who combine a bit of picking and strumming
That cocobolo is a fine wood and produces some stunning results Here’s a peek at the top which sports some nice decor too
The remainder of our output for this month should be arriving at Hank’s any day now and here’s a preview below The full order list is: Rosewood Kit, Rosewood Lyn Bird’s Eye Maple Torridge, Ovangkol Taw, Gum Okement, Rosewood Teign, Rosewood Bovey and finally an Ovangkol Taw
A true Brook Connoisseur could pick them out from this picture!
We also received a visit recently from ‘Guitar‘ magazine who wanted to do a piece featuring some shots of our workshop. You can see a full transcript of the article here
(warning – it is approx 400kb)
This little job might look like a guitar but in fact it is our first ever Brook Uke
If this one satisfies our curiosity and our exacting standards we have tentative plans for introducing soprano, concert, tenor and baritone size models to the Brook range
Looks pretty good once it’s strung up
So why are we moving into this area? Simple; because of the weight of public demand. The Ukulele is becoming more and more popular and people have been inquiring if we built them.
For instance, such organisations as ‘The Ukulele Research & Development Society’
(pictured) simply could not manage to function if there was a shortage of top qualty Ukes
Some might think that was no bad thing! The guy in the pith helmet is none other than Sir Humphrey Comfy. The others are probably on day release from a local hospital in Exeter
This lot meet every month in Exeter. So if you’ve got a uke and a silly hat (required) why not join in?
Anyone for Darts?
This is our model called the Dart, named after the river on Dartmoor.
Now and again somebody orders one and we get to build one of these, but because of its specialist nature it is one of our less well known models.
However, there are some people out there who just aren’t satisfied with a single cutaway and opt for the double cut as featured on the Dart
We’ve been working on this one recently and that gives us the opportunity to show you some pics of it’s development through the build process
The picture above gives a revealing internal view of the double cutaway and the bracing on this instrument.
Once it’s got its top fitted and has visited the spray shop it looks ready for the road
And that’s just as well because after this particular Dart has been given a thorough test and we’ve taken some close-ups of the custom inlay work, then it’s off to Mr Eric Anderson from Norway who has ordered this one and would like to hear it ASAP
Here’s Jack modelling our latest 4-string creation ( We’re not quite sure what we’re calling this yet) We always enjoy this ‘road testing’ part of the process It was made for Mike Selley who has now managed to get hold of three of our instruments. The scale length on this one is 560mm and Mike intended it to be tuned D-G-B-E but it works equally as well tuned as a standard mandola
It sports a kingfisher inlay on the asymmetrical headstock (see news bulletin for July 2002) and we’re shortly going to be completing a 6-string version with the same body design so watch this space
Three of our guitars have also just left for Ivor Mairants ready for the London Guitar Show at Wembley Arena (10th and 11th May) and a couple more have been sent to the London Resonator Centre in Islington so London residents and visitors are going to be spoiled for choice in the Brook department… at least until they all get snapped up
You’re not seeing double. Don’t adjust anything… just meet the Creedy twins…
This pair of parlours were made for a German customer called Franz Mang. Franz has a band called Robespierre and will be using these on stage.
They were both made in Sitka Spruce and English walnut with a bridge inspired by a Victorian parlour guitar. Here’s a closer look at the six string
Sometimes it hurts to pack ’em up and post ’em!
The latest CD from Adrian Legg is now available in the shops and from his site and we’re excited to see that his beloved Creedy is not only the main guitar for the body of the album but Adrian also decided to feature it in the artwork!
We also heard reports that Adrian’s one-off show in London recently was a fantastic event. A London show is rare treat for UK fans of this virtuoso guitarist as he is kept busy in the States most of the time. Still, if you missed it, the album is a real delight and it’s refreshing to hear Adrian put a fine acoustic through its paces
This Baritone Tavy is the most intriguing of our recent guitars
Sled and snow are optional extras but the rest of the details are:
Rosewood/European spruce. 690mm scale length.
Tuned C F Bb Eb G C D’Addario Heavy 14-59 phosphor bronze strings.
Previously we’ve made our baritones with a longer scalelength and the lower A – A tuning. For this instrument we’ve shortened the scalelength to give us an instrument that is a lot closer in feel to a standard guitar but also adds a huge rich depth to the sound.
Ever wished you could tune your guitar down a couple of notches without any loss in volume or sustain?…
For the first News item of 2003 we are proud to announce that Portishead’s Beth Gibbons’ solo CD is available now
Beth, Paul Webb and Adrian Utley all have Taws and were recently seen giving a stunning performance on the TV programme ‘Later, with Jools Holland’
Here’s a shot of Beth at our workshop playing a 12 string version of the Taw