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Steve Walwyn's "The Plank"

Steve Walwyn's "The Plank"

Our favourite music journalist Lars Mullen has written an amusing piece about guitarists who name their guitars.  We'd love to find out what guitars you have that you have named, and why?   We're offering a guitar tech kit worth £110 as a prize for the comment we like best.  Read Lar's article then in the comment section at the bottom, add the name of your guitar and why you chose it.  The prize winner will be announced on 10th January 2020 and the winner contacted by email.   More about the prize after Lar's article  

Lars Mullen asks:

Why do some guitar players have names for their guitars, why do they love a relic finish and where are all the ladies?

With absolutely no help from the postman!

I’ve personally photographed literally thousands and thousands of guitars for magazine articles over the years, early parlours, classical and blues acoustics dating back for centuries, and iconic models associated with rock and roll over the last 60 plus years.

I’ve often been left alone in a darkened room to photograph these classics, 50’s Danelectros and Supros, 52’ black guard Teles, 63’ Strats for example, 55’ Gibson Goldtops, faded Gibson 59s’, left handers, upside downers along with the weird, the wonderful and the one-offs. Many a time, whilst fiddling with cameras or setting up the next shot with a long row of guitars, one will stand out, perhaps not the colour or the model, but almost saying “Can I be at the front?”

Ok, it’s not quite the rocking horse or the rag dolls in the haunted house thing….but sometimes there’s this vibe where I’m thinking, ‘those pickups are looking at me, following me around the room’! There’s a communication with old wood, well-worn hardware, the history they have witnessed, a bit like standing by a giant tree in a forest. If only they could talk.

Lar's Mullen's "Pyjama Strat"

Lars Mullen's Pyjama StratBut that’s just me, we all know how personal we can be with our guitars. I have guitars that I will not gig or play when wearing a belt, these I call my pyjama guitars, whilst others are workhorses that have been played to within an inch of their lives and back again. I’ve a relationship with them all, and often feel as though I have to apologise to the one I haven’t picked to play today.

Non guitar players may not argue the fact that guitarists are indeed a special breed and won’t be surprised why some of us have names for our guitars.

There’s a thing about having an old material friend that’s been with you through the good times and the bad times, not just for guitar players, but in all forms of life. I’ve talked to many guitar players who can’t really explain why they like old worn guitars and have names for them, it’s just a bonding thing.

Steve Walwyn's "The Plank" 

Steve Walwyn's PlankOne that springs to mind is a ’67 Telecaster I photographed called The Plank, owned by Steve Walwyn, guitarist in Dr Feelgood who is still gigging hundreds of times a year with this guitar. Originally blonde, gallons of sweat have raised the grain on the back over the years, there’s also a blue tinge ingrained from wearing denims.

 " Hey stop wait a minute mister postman"

I often invite my postman Sidney in for a coffee and bounce ideas off him when I’m writing up articles. Sid’s ideal, as he doesn’t have a clue about guitars or music related topics. He recently asked what the ‘plastic blocks’ were in the middle of a guitar I was holding, I explained that they were a pair of P.90 pickups, he asked if they were P.45 each, so you know what I mean.

He also commented on a really worn Tele style guitar with hardly any of the original Butterscotch finish left, scratched up black guard and aged hardware, it was a relic model, not the real thing. But that was far too confusing to explain to Sid. I told him I called it ‘Old Paintless’. It took four dunking digestives, looking at me after each dunk, before he finally said,

“Why would anyone want a guitar looking like that, it doesn’t make sense, why don’t you paint it and make it look new? Then you won’t have to call it such a daft name!”

“I could Sid, but it’s not like that. I have clean, shiny guitars as well. Think about a brand new gleaming Ford Mustang, or what about the rough and ready Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback that Steve McQueen drove in the classic film Bullitt, one bashed Mustang and one clean and shiny.”

“How cool it would be to own the old original with scratched paint”, says Sid, I’d call it ‘Old Green Meany’, gotta run I’m late with the letters.”

So around we go.

Lars Mullen's "Old Paintless"

Lars Maullen's Old Paintless

Dig deeper, and it’s quite apparent that girls names are the most popular for guitars, whilst Fred, Dave or John somehow just does not seem rock and roll. Guitars are often referred to as ‘her’ by both male and female players, and for those of us who think this is totally nuts, we also refer to boats as ‘her’ and give them names. I knew a guitarist who bought a late 60’s hollow bodied Gretsch Streamliner and the original owner said it’s called ‘Streamster’. The new owner couldn’t live with that and being superstitious, did the whole ritual thing like boat owners changing the name of a vessel.

As far as I know, there are very few female guitar players who have names for their guitars. It must be a male thing as all the names that come to mind are Eric Clapton’s Blackie, Steve Ray Vaughan’s Lenny, BB King’s Lucille and Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein.

And they go on, Neil Young’s Old Black, Willie Nelson’s Trigger, George Harrison’s Lucy and Joe Bonamassa’s Spot, Batman and Major Tom. They’re all from an endless list of high profile male players who have names for guitars.

I can’t even count on one hand the number of female guitar players who I know have named their guitars. I’m aware that Mandy Fer in the USA folk band Sway Wild plays an Andrew Lauher acoustic called Mrs Robinson, but are there anymore, I’d love to know?

Why shouldn’t we give these puppies cool names, after all, we are just caretakers for these gorgeous works of art.

Lars Mullen.  https://www.facebook.com/lars.mullen.3

Leave your guitar name and why you chose it in the comments below to enter the draw to win this Guitar Tech Kit Prize.

Guitar Tech Kit Prize

We'll approve thecomments daily to keep it spam free.

Hosco Step Gauge Guitar.

Hosco’s latest luthier tool is a 3 function step gauge. This gauge measures string height, nut slot height and fret crown height. The gauge is delicate as it is only 0.1mm thick. It is supplied in a neat protective metal case. See Hosco’s video showing the tool in action.

 

10 Apr 2018 13:39:27 By Bill Quinn Comments

 

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30th October, London International Guitar Show.

Tonetech is exhibiting for the first time at the London International Guitar Show at Kempton Park Racecourse on Sunday 30th October.  We’d love to meet some of our Southern customers so why not come along and say hello.

We’ll be bringing the new ToneUp range of products, Fret wire from Sintoms, a range of tools and a box of bargain goodies.  If you want to look at any particular products, let us know and we’ll see if we can bring them along.  Cash sales on the day is preferred but we should have our paypal card reader with us.  As long as wifi is working we can take card payments.

 

Japanese Bracing saw.

The smallest of our saws is made to enable you to cut bracing that is glued to the soundboard or back, without marking the surface of the surrounding wood.  The curved 66mm long blade has a minute 0.2mm kerf.  When making delicate, precise cuts this saw will offer maximum control.  The saw cuts on the pull stroke.

 

Gavitt Vintage Hook up wire.

We were asked by Bailey Guitars to see if we could stock Gavitt Cloth covered pre-tinned hook up wire.  We got in touch with Gavitt and had 1000 feet each of off-white cloth, and black cloth covered wires made.  It’s proving very popular so it won’t be long before we’re ordering more.

 

150 Grit Diamond Block.

Weighing in at 0.9kgs this 200mm x 69mm x 6mm steel plate is coating in 150 grit diamond abrasive.  Made in Japan this quality sharpening plate can be used to quickly restore sharp edges on chisels and plane irons.   It can double as a fret levelling tool as the diamond grit will quickly take down any high spots on your frets.

 

Small Dozuki Saw.

The smaller cousin to our standard Dozuki saw from Japan has a 150mm blade with a 0.3mm kerf.  The narrow kerf and sharp teeth enable precise saw cuts to be made with little effort.  We think this will become your “go to saw” when accuracy is required.  This saw cuts on the pull stroke.

 

Economy slot head tuners for acoustic guitars.

At the cheaper end of the scale for machine heads these Gotoh, “3 on a plate” slot head tuners are great value for money.  We’ve sold lots of the classical guitar version of these machine heads so we’ve added the acoustic post option for those who prefer the slot head style on their acoustic guitars.  The posts are 35mm apart.

 

Standard Fret Levelling File.

This double sided single cut file is designed to be used on Nickel Silver fret wire.  The file is 160mm x 25mm.  Diamond coated files are expensive so if you normally only work on nickel Silver Fret wire this is a good economic alternative.

 

4” Spring Clamps

Ideal clamps in a pack of 10.  Useful for clamping kerfings and linings and other small clamping jobs.  The jaws pivot to match the clamping angles. The jaws open to 40mm wide with a 40mm deep throat. 

 
 
 
 
10 Oct 2017 15:10:18 By Bill Quinn Comments Newsletter Archive,
Finding a suitable dust extractor for a small workshop is not an easy job. On the one hand, you may not want to spend a lot of money, yet on the other hand, what is the price of your health? In the UK the H.S.E. website has lots of great information on controlling dust in a factory environment and with a little care and attention you can bring the same standard of dust control to the small workshop. Wood dust you can see from Routers, planers and sanders is a nuisance and you can mostly protect yourself from this with a simple well fitted face mask. The dangerous wood dust particles are the one’s you can’t see. These can get passed your body’s natural defences and embed themselves deep in the lungs. The long-term irritation can cause anything from minor coughs to tumours. This is where proper dust control is needed.

Dealing With Wood Dust

Finding a suitable dust extractor for a small workshop is not an easy job.  On the one hand, you may not want to spend a lot of money, yet on the other hand, what is the price of your health?

In the UK the H.S.E. website has lots of great information on controlling dust in a factory environment and with a little care and attention you can bring the same standard of dust control to the small workshop.

Wood dust you can see from Routers, planers and sanders is a nuisance and you can mostly protect yourself from this with a simple well fitted face mask.

The dangerous wood dust particles are the one’s you can’t see.  These can get passed your body’s natural defences and embed themselves deep in the lungs.  The long-term irritation can cause anything from minor coughs to tumours.  This is where proper dust control is needed.

 

It is accepted in the woodworking business that Class M dust control for hardwoods is the required standard.  A Class M dust vacuum cleaner means that <1mg /m3 of air is emitted.  Workplace exposure limits for wood dust is 5 mg/m3 . These are limits placed on the amount of dust in the air, averaged over an eight-hour working day.

Having a properly rated vacuum dust collector is one part of the story.  The second is the placement and design of collection hoods to draw ALL the dust particles produced by a machine or operation.

The HSE has published some great short videos to illustrate how air flows around a vacuum extraction point and how to design and test appropriate “hoods” for your tools and sanding benches.

 

When I attended the European Guitar Builder’s conference in June 2017, one of the keynote presentations was about controlling dust.  When hand-sanding, for instance, our top guitar builders use both a downdraft sanding bench and a P3 dust mask.  The downdraft benches were simple, shop made items powered by small M Class vacuums.  The P3 dust masks were half face masks with P3 filters to prevent even the smallest dust particles getting through.

The presenter, Jacco Stuitje, asked the question, “What is the most dangerous piece of workshop equipment”?  He then showed a photo of a sweeping brush.  The recommendation is, NEVER use a brush to sweep away wood dust.  This simply throws the most dangerous particles into the air where they remain for days.

Investing in wood dust control is both an investment in your health, and in the comfort and enjoyment when working in your workshop.

Tonetech has sourced a good quality M class  vacuum dust collector and a quality Moldex P3 half face dust mask.  With these you can manage most of the dust hazard in your workshop.  You can add to this with a fine particle filter to remove the smallest of airborne particles.  These units are typically suspended from the ceiling.

7 Sep 2017 09:20:19 By Bill Quinn Comments Technical Corner,

Summit Fret Setting Tools

The new fret setter has been designed to overcome the shortcomings of other fret setters on the market.

2 sizes of radii to match the common profiles of fret wire.

sloping shoulder of the radiussed head raises the string to avoid accidentally "crimping" the guitar string.

Made of Brass to ensure the fret crowns are preserved.

Narrow Wire fret setter

Medium wire fret setter

Wide wire fret setter

 

25 Jul 2017 10:19:00 By Bill Quinn Comments New Products,

Tonetech’s first “education” event was held on July 16th 2017. Guitar Maker, Jim Fleeting gave a fascinating presentation on the subject of the guitar soundboard. He covered all aspects of soundboard design and construction.

The audience were treated to some “insider” secrets that Jim had learned during his training at the Roberto Venn Luthier school in America, and during seminars given by Ervin Somogyi on soundboard voicing.

We learned about the relationship between soundboard thickness, soundhole dimensions and positions, and bracing patterns. The presentation was a helpful mixture of science and opinion and the attendees left the session knowing how they can control the voicing of the guitars they want to build.

We had a practical session on choosing a soundboard, both for it’s visual appeal and it’s sound properties. The whole audience was involved at one time practicing “tapping” the soundboard blanks so they can distinguish between “good and bad” soundboards.

 

 

After the session, the Tonetech Staff spent a happy half hour tapping all our stock of soundboards so we can help our customers choose their favourite.

Log SplittingIn addition to the soundboard lecture we were treated to a demonstration of traditional log splitting by Tony Williams. Tony, a lifelong Antique furniture restorer, demonstrated the use of traditional log splitting tools on some laburnum logs that are now being dried to become fingerboards in 12 months’ time.


Throughout the whole event the attendees had opportunities to talk one to one with Jim and Tony, and to chat with each other to exchange views and opinions on guitar making. The feedback for the event has been tremendous so we’re looking forward to planning the next one!

18 Jul 2017 14:42:02 By Bill Quinn Comments

Bailey Online Guitar Courses

 

On-line Guitar Making courses

Mark Bailey, of Bailey guitars, has produced some amazing online courses for people interested in learning more about guitar design and guitar making. 
Mark is a renowned luthier and has delivered guitar making courses to over 400 students from his workshop in Maybole, Scotland.

Design Your Own electric Guitar

His online Design your own Guitar course provides the fundamentals to produce a plan to make your own guitar.  Mark clearly lays out how to draw the plan, and how to ensure all the components fit the anatomy of the guitar.  Even if you never want to build your own guitar, this course gives you a fascinating insight into the world of guitar design.  

Click Here for the Design Your Own Electric Guitar Course

 

Build your own Electric Guitar

Build your Own Guitar-ONLINE is an amazing, comprehensive tutorial.  Mark takes you through every detail in the making of an electric guitar.  He includes the design course and then takes you step by step through the tools you need (not as many as you think), choosing wood, safety, making jigs and patterns, and all the way through the woodwork bits and on to the hardware and wiring.

In addition to all this, you have access to Mark to get any questions you have about the build answered.  Once you’ve signed up you can ask Mark questions directly or use the online community to help you.

Take me to Mark's Build Your Own Electric Guitar Course

 

Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar 

If acoustic guitars are more your thing, worry not!  Mark has a Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar-ONLINE course.  It covers design, safety, wood choice, jigs, patterns tips and tricks to help you make a success of your acoustic guitar build.  Mark can also provide a kit of all the wood parts you need, including thicknessed tops and backs, already joined, and radiussed and slotted fingerboards.  These “pre-prepared” parts are probably the ones that cause the home woodworker the most difficulty.

Take me to Mark's Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar Online course

Access All Areas.

If you are bitten by the guitar making bug then Mark's "Access All Areas" package may be the thing for you.  A one off membership sign up fee and a small regular monthly membership fee gets you permanent access to all Marks current and future courses.  Here's what you get.
 

  • Design Your Own Electric Guitar
  • Build Your Own Guitar
  • Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar
  • All resources for each course
  • 20% off all wood, tools and parts!
  • Secret Sales and Special Deals
  • Direct Access to ask Q’s
  • PLUS – All future courses !

    Get me Access All Areas Click Here

 

8 May 2017 08:51:00 By Bill Quinn Comments Technical Corner,
TONE UP 3D Bass Bridge

14 Apr 2017 11:22:00 By Bill Quinn Comments New Products,
Rocklite Ebano Binding, How does it Bend?

Here is a video featuring guitar maker, Rory Dowling, showing just how easy it is to bend Rocklite Ebano Binding

 

14 Apr 2017 10:53:40 By Bill Quinn Comments Technical Corner,

Tonetech Launch the all new Luthier Directory

Tonetech Launch the all new Luthier Directory

Luthier Directory Logo
 

Tonetech has provided a free of charge luthier directory, mainly aimed at UK luthiers, for the last 6 years.  The site was a bit tired and hard to update. 

We've invested in a new great looking directory which allows the luthiers to manage their own entry.  You can change the images, re-word the text, change address and contact details, to suit your changing circumstances.

How do you get a free entry?

First apply for a TonetchPro account.  Once this has been approved we shall email you access to the directory where you can load your profile.  If you'd rather we do this for you, email a couple of great images, one of which should be landscape in the proportion 375 x 195.  Let us have some about you blurb, contact details and we'll create your listing.

The directory is also open to luthiers around Europe.  We'll create new category countries so your local customer can find you.

27 Sep 2016 11:53:46 By Bill Quinn Comments
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