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Buying British Instruments

theleveller 28 Apr 08 - 08:10 AM
Pete_Standing 28 Apr 08 - 08:40 AM
DonMeixner 28 Apr 08 - 08:46 AM
Wesley S 28 Apr 08 - 09:09 AM
Pete_Standing 28 Apr 08 - 09:54 AM
Backwoodsman 28 Apr 08 - 10:25 AM
Pete_Standing 28 Apr 08 - 10:39 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Apr 08 - 10:39 AM
theleveller 28 Apr 08 - 11:11 AM
theleveller 28 Apr 08 - 11:23 AM
alanabit 28 Apr 08 - 11:37 AM
Murray MacLeod 28 Apr 08 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Ray 28 Apr 08 - 01:14 PM
DonMeixner 28 Apr 08 - 01:31 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Apr 08 - 01:49 PM
Murray MacLeod 28 Apr 08 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 28 Apr 08 - 02:22 PM
Leadfingers 28 Apr 08 - 02:45 PM
DonMeixner 28 Apr 08 - 03:02 PM
Backwoodsman 28 Apr 08 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,Eric 28 Apr 08 - 03:32 PM
Murray MacLeod 28 Apr 08 - 03:40 PM
Jack Campin 28 Apr 08 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Kevin P 28 Apr 08 - 06:31 PM
Murray MacLeod 28 Apr 08 - 06:55 PM
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Subject: Buying British Instruments
From: theleveller
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 08:10 AM

A few weeks ago I was playing a Breedlove guitar in a shop and, despite the fact that it had a price tag close to four grand, I thought the sound very disappointing, although it did look very flashy. With so many fantastic British instrument makers around at the moment, why would anyone want to buy an import, even if it has the name Martin or Taylor on it, when you can buy a far superior British-crafted instrument?


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 08:40 AM

Absolutely. When I was approaching a milestone birthday, I went in to a shop in Oxford that has a good range of Martins, Taylors, Fyldes and a few others. I was really disappointed with the sound and playability, bearing in mind the cost, compared to the Simon and Patrick that I had. In the end, I opted for a hand-made guitar by Nick Benjamin of Lewes. He studied my playing style and discussed tunings, tonal qualities and the sound that I wanted. OK I had to wait 10 months for the end result, but I had a guitar made-to-measure and included a case, pickup and parametric DI box.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 08:46 AM

Because of name recognition and product power and product placement. People forget that they don't play a name. If Eric Clapton had played a Lowden or a Fylde guitar on Unplugged things might be a little different.

I have owned a number of decent high end guitars. And I prefer to buy American made because I lve here. But lately those PacRim guitars have been sounding pretty good and the price is quite affordable.

My Martins are nice but they don't hold up to my ancient Guild. My 1970 Red Label Yamaha is the one guitar I'd kill to have back and new.

Don


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Wesley S
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 09:09 AM

I like buying local too - IF the product is good. Lucky for me that I live in Texas and I can consider Collings guitars a local builder. I think they are making some of the best production guitars out there right now. Mandolins too.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 09:54 AM

I recently heard two Collings, one in a folk club, the other in the same guitar shop I alluded to earlier. They sounded and looked lovely and I thought a good price too.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 10:25 AM

I played two guitars recently that topped ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING I've played before (including my own Lowdens and Martins, and a Sobell and an Olson that I had the good fortune to 'try' in a dealer's workshop) - one was a Patrick James Eggle slope-shouldered Dread (a 'Kanuga' I think it was called), and the other (last night) was a Brook 'Lyn' parlour-size. Both sounded phenomenal, and played like a dream.

These are two outstanding builders, and I'd place them alongside, and probably ahead, of any others.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 10:39 AM

OK at the risk of dominating this thread, my mate has a Brook dreadnought with Indian Rosewood back and sides and a spruce top (sorry, don't know what kind of spruce). I don't know the model but when you strum it growls. I like it.

BWM, where is Patrick Eggle based?


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 10:39 AM

My apologies if this is an igno question - I'm not really clued up on model numbers etc of the various brands:

Don, what is a "red label" Yamaha? I'm asking because I have a Yamaha made around then which has a red label in it (it's their Martin 000-18 clone, still a lovely little instrument that has held up well over the decades). Is there something particular about the red labels, a time-period or something? What did you have? Thanks -


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: theleveller
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 11:11 AM

The only guitar I've tried that I like as much as my 1986 Lowden is an early Ralph Bown (who's a local maker, based in York)- there are 4 of his guitars at our folk club, so we definitely like to shop local. I also love Peter Barton's, who makes Kate Rusby's guitars - he lives next door to some good friends of mine and I'm sure that one day I'll end up ordering one after a tour of his amazing wood collection.

I recently bought a mando by Cleckheaton maker, Thomas Buchanan, for mrsleveller. It's an amazing instrument that sounds even better than her lovely Paul Hathway. So many great instrument makers to choose from!

Pete, Patrick Eggle is based in Shropshire


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: theleveller
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 11:23 AM

Er, that should be 1996 Lowden.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: alanabit
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 11:37 AM

If I was going to buy another guitar, I would probably visit a few folk clubs in the UK and find out the name of some small instrument builders, who were just starting up. I would almost certainly buy one of their lovingly crafted instruments, built before they had a name, but before they had to build instruments in larger quantities. I am sure there are luthiers every bit as good in the US. It's just that we Brits often have the advantage of having to travel shorter distances to meet them and talk to them.
I love my Fylde Oberon, but there are a host of other guitars, which I would happily pay good money for, if I had it.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 12:24 PM

invariably, on these threads, somebody trots out the name of Brook guitars.

I was given a Brook as a present, believe it or not, and when the donor asked me if I was happy with the instrument, I had to confess that I was not.

two problems, one minor, one major.

firstly, the herringbone purfling ran the same way all round the body of the guitar, and I cannot tell you how annoying I found that.

secondly, there was a pronounced kink in the neck at the 14th fret, which would have made refretting and fret dressing impossible.

the upshot was that the guitar was returned to the store (Acoustic Music Centre, Brighton) and I traded up to my present instrument, a Martin D28-S, with which I am ecstatically happy ( with herringbone purfling bookmatched as it should be btw).

I was not ecstatically happy that Brook guitars made no reply to my email informing them of the situation.

to be fair, the Brook did sound great, but not as great as the Martin does.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 01:14 PM

I am fortunate in owning several "high-end" guitars. A couple of Martins a pair of Santa Cruz and a Lowden. I would happily have bought from a UK builder had one of sufficient quality been available at the time my purchases were made. I'm not saying that UK luthiers aren't producing good instruments but all the ones I know tend to have a waiting list and I've always been concerned that the instrument I'd end up with might not be or sound the way I want it to.

Seems to me that if you are looking for a high end instrument you are more likely to come across one from the US than one from the UK.

I assume, Murray, that TAMCO were quite happy to exchange a faulty instrument? My experience of Trevor (purely as a satisfied customer) is that he runs a totally fair operation.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 01:31 PM

Hi Bonnie.

Thats a Red Label Yamaha 110 you probably have. The Red Label were the instruments made in Japan. They changes to a gold label and rewoeked the head stock and pick guard a little. Shortly after ward they made them in Taiwan and Korea. There is a little overlap in this chain of events but by and large the Red Labels or the good guitars.

Do an ebay search for Yamaha Red Label or FG 180 Red Label and you willl be surprised what prices thay can get.

Paul Brady, Andy M. Stewart, Hugh Laurie played 180's as I recall.

Don


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 01:49 PM

Hi Don - thanks for the info. Mine's actually a FG-150, and it was indeed made in Japan, if the "Nippon" underneath the serial number is anything to go by. (Daren't look at Ebay: major central heating repairs looming and the financial cupboard is looking a bit Mother Hubbardish. Roll on, summer.) Back in the old days (Boston) I had friends who owned FG-180's, which I always thought sounded great. It was what they bought when they couldn't afford Martin D-18's (I think I mean the D-18, or one of those anyway - D-28?).

Got really hassled by the customs at Heathrow (1972) when I tried to bring my guitar through - hadn't a clue how expensive those were in the UK. They finally let me pass, after I threatened to play them something on it.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 02:13 PM

I assume, Murray, that TAMCO were quite happy to exchange a faulty instrument? My experience of Trevor (purely as a satisfied customer) is that he runs a totally fair operation.

Ray, I have nothing but the highest praise for Trevor and his operation, there was no problem whatsoever. There was an ititial hint of disbelief on the phone when I first contacted them about the neck problem, but once the guitar had been returned and they had inspected it they were quite happy to either refund or p/ex.

Actually, they resold the Brook within two or three days of its being returned, somebody apparently was so entranced by it that he/she didn't mind the kink in the neck, nor the one-way herringbone.

So everyone's a winner ...


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 02:22 PM

Apart from Martin & Taylor the name Lowden has cropped up several times in this thread. I have an Avalon Legacy L32c made in the old Lowden factory. Well worth a try out. As for seeing the brand used by celebrities' David Gray makes a good stab at the Avalon range.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 02:45 PM

At the time I bought my D35 , the only UK maker anyone had heard of was Tony Zemaitis , and he was a bit particular if you were NOT a Full Pro - These days there are good makers all over the place , though some of them are no cheaper than buying a mass produced up market Import . My Mandolin was built by Terry Docherty , but I think he has now retired from making !


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 03:02 PM

I bought my FG 180 $125.00 US because I didn't have the $325.00 a D-18 cost. My was and is a great guitar. I need to have some neck work on it to make it new again. But my cupboard is a bit bare as well.

Do some busking. Repair your heater.

Good luck.

D


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 03:13 PM

Murray, you are the one and only person I've ever heard criticise a Brook instrument! Not saying you're wrong, just that complaints about these guitars seem virtually non-existent, unlike some other 'high-end' British guitars.

I have to say that I'm blissfully happy with my current Martin and Lowden (the second one of each make that I've owned), but I find that my needs and wants change over time, so the guitar that floated my boat seven or eight years ago isn't necessarily the one that floats it now.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: GUEST,Eric
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 03:32 PM

Buying from a luthier is, I think, a different type of experience.I have a Rob Armstrong made in 1996 for me and [as a very amateur amateur] I have to say the buying experience was what really got me. Three hours in his front room and workshop trying guitars and listening to him talk about them was memorable. I also talked to Alan Marshall at Northworthy at the same time and the memory lasted as 10 years later I saw one of his parlours in Chas Foulds in Derby and bought it based on that earlier visit. The high end US guitars seem great but if you are not a professional or semi-pro and have the time to wait I can recommend a UK luthier.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 03:40 PM

Backwoodsman, I have no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of Brook guitars are instruments of the highest quality and that the one which I received was the one in a million which shouldn't have got past quality control. I do not mean my post to be an indictment of Brook guitars in general, ( although I am miffed that they didn't answer my email )

That said, I stand by my criticism of the herringbone binding.

There is no justification for running herringbone the same way all round a guitar, it is aesthetically abhorrent, and I have never seen any other top class instrument in which this was done.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:22 PM

And turning to real musical instruments for a change - has anybody even *heard* of a maker of bellows pipes outside the UK? Nobody else from the US to Taiwan has made any inroads on the British Isles monopoly.

I find that obsession with the direction of purfling patterns really bizarre. The only thing like it I've met with was the Edinburgh teacher in charge of a room used for adult traditional music classes in the evenings. He was so far gone with OCD that he made an immense fuss if the all tables weren't put back with the fake woodgrain aligned the same way, and finally got all the classes (involving about 200 people) driven away to other venues to stop his arrangement being disturbed.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: GUEST,Kevin P
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:31 PM

I've just collected a Brook Tamar 12 string. Had the fundamentals and octave strings reversed on the 4-6th strings (just like a Rickenbacker electric 12), so that I hit the bass notes first when fingerpicking. Very pleased with the guitar and the service from Simon and Andy at Brook. Its also a really fun trip into the mid-Devon countryside (for those unfamiliar with the area, think of the Hobbiton set on the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies).

I'd previously tried various Taylor, Guild and Gibson 12 strings, but their necks are much too wide for my (rather small) hands.


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Subject: RE: Buying British Instruments
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 28 Apr 08 - 06:55 PM

...I find that obsession with the direction of purfling patterns really bizarre ...

to quote Basil Fawlty (verbatim, I believe)

"You wouldn't understand , dear. It's called style"


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