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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

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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

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

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

The ToneBar is a new newsletter aimed at the Professinoal Luthiers and Repairers

Tonetech's "The ToneBar" is a virtual place where luthiers and repairers can hang out. We have several journalists writing for the ToneBar to bring information about our industry and doing business as a professional luthier and repairer.

The ToneBar Logo

27 Sep 2016 10:55:50 By Bill Quinn Comments

Tonetech's New TonetechPro Account

TonetechPro Logo

Tonetech Pro Account Membership Benefit Details.

TonetechPro Logo

 

  1. Discounts on our already low prices between 10% and40% Some of our competitors have high RRP prices and offer up to 40% trade discount. For many lutherie products Tonetech has much keener prices for general retail. We offer a 10% Trade discount on most of our RRP prices and on many items significant reductions for large quantity orders. We are always willing to talk about further bulk buy discounts.


  2. Exclusive access to “The Tone Bar”, our trade newsletter with specially commissioned features relevant to luthiers. Tonetech is the only European Luthier Supplier to offer bespoke news, features and industry insight. We have set up a professional editorial team to pull together regulatory, industry insights and business growth support. The Tone Bar newsletter is issued every 2 months and is only available to our Tonetech Pro account members.


  3. Special Member only access to our Tonetech Pro website which gives you easy ordering from product lists. Tonetech has developed a Tonetech Pro Only website open only to Tonetech Pro Account Members. It offers a quick product selection menu, shows the discounted prices, and includes a special “Bargain Bin” area for one-off items and stock clearance. The Tonetech Pro members will also receive enhanced reward points which deliver further savings on products ordered.
    TonetechPro Member Card

  4. Printed Tonetech Pro Price Lists for those who like a good read. We have produced Printed Tonetech Pro Price Lists for those of you who prefer a quick paper based reference guide to our products. We also produce a price list for Hosco’s branded, Japanese made products and Gotoh’s range of hardware. These are available on request and can be added to any order placed on the trade website, free of charge.


  5. Reward Points system giving you additional discounts on future purchases. Our Tonetech Pro Members earn more rewards on each order placed. The value of points earned is double our Standard Retail rate. Tonetech’s standard website offers 1 point per £1 spent and 50 points = £1 discount. The Tonetech Pro Members will receive 1 point per £1 spent and 25 points = £1 discount.


  6. Gotoh Product stock reserved for you. Take the stress out of ordering parts. Tonetech is a major stockist of Gotoh hardware. Our aim is to hold stock on the ground here in the UK of the Gotoh products you want to use. Intially, our local stock holding will be available to the first 30 Tonetech Pro Account Members to sign up to this special deal. Tonetech will commit to holding up to 3 months of stock, reserved for you to order as and when you need it. Contact bill@tonetech.co.uk for more details on how this unique service will operate.


  7. Free basic listing on our Luthier Directory. We make it easy for customers to find you. Over 1200 referrals each month from our directory. We have developed a luthier directory to promote instrument makers and repairers. Customers searching for your services can quickly find you by location or instrument type. The listing is only open to Tonetech Pro Account Members.


  8.  Tonetech Pro only online bargain bin. Unique, odd sized, one-off or unusual items offered at low prices. Just what you’ve been looking for. We get lots of odd sized timber, one off parts, and various clearance items. These will be available to our Tonetech Pro Account Members from a simple “pick list”.


  9.  New Product Alert emails. Whenever we add a new product to our website you will be the first to know about it. When we get our local Pros coming into the store, they invariably ask, “what’s new?” Our Tonetech Pro Account Members will have an optional email or text alert to tell them a new product is now on the website.
26 Sep 2016 10:38:42 By Bill Quinn Comments

The Leonardo Guitar Research Project is challenging the need to use tropical hardwoods in Guitar Making.

The European Guitar Builders Symosium on 30th October 2015

presented a lecture by the Leonardo Guitar Research Project, that showed how fine instruments can be made from locally sourced, sustainable timbers. A “blind test” showed the audience that it was almost impossible to tell from the sound alone whether an instrument was made using a tropical tonewood versus a locally grown European wood.

The non-tropical woods used included Plane, Beech, Birch, Cherry, Chestnut and Laburnam.

The Leonardo Guitar Research Project is supported by 3 European luthiery schools, Cmb in Belgium, Merton College in the UK and IKATA in Finland and a number of professional luthiers are also involved. For more information visit their website, Leonardo Guitar Research Project.

In the final plenary session a panel of guitar making experts were keen to point out that the use of tropical hardwoods in instrument making was originally driven by the fact the wood was plentiful and cheap. It wasn’t chosen for any magical tonal properties. Now these timbers are rare, expensive, and CITES controlled, there is no reason why makers shouldn’t move to more sustainable and local hardwoods

16 Nov 2015 10:42:18 By Bill Quinn Comments

 Holy Grail Guitar Show.

 

The first international symposium and exhibition organised by the European Guitar Builders Association (EGB) opened today (14th November 2014 in Berlin with a fantastic lecture by William “Grit” Liskin where we learned of his history as a guitar maker in Canada and heard amazing descriptions of his speciality, inlay and engraving.

Grit explained how he uses the guitar neck as a canvas for his inspirational art and the complexity of his inlay and engraving techniques.

 

The Symposium attended by top professional luthiers from around Europe and visiting luthiers from Canada, Japan, USA, and Australia precedes the 2 day Holy Grail Guitar Show. This guitar show is a showcase of the best guitar makers in the world with over 90 craftsmen and women showing just how good individual luthiers can be. Not only are their instruments works of art, they also play like a dream too.

 

I'm here in Berlin with Dan MacPherson of MacPherson Guitars UK to promote his range of truly knock-out yet affordable electric guitars including the “Preacher”, “Pagan” and “Nomad” models.

13 Nov 2014 16:12:00 By Bill Quinn Comments

Guitar Parts Delivery at Tonetech

When I order from my Japanese supplier there is usually a long wait for the goods to arrive.  When they get here the work starts.  There are hundreds of items in the boxes and every item is checked off against the original order.  Being Japanese there is rarely any items missing.

Today these 3 boxes arrived.

Gotoh Guitar Parts Delivery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's just like Christmas, or in this case as it is a few days before my birthday, an exciting moment.  I can't remember what I ordered so I quickly slice open the boxes and peer inside.

In box number 2 there are several layers of Gotoh machine heads, for electric guitar, acoustic guitar, classical  guitar, mandolin and banjo.

Box of Gotoh Machine Heads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next job is to check them all against the packing lists, put them onto the slatwall displays, then spend a happy couple of hours updating the website.

29 Sep 2014 07:36:00 By Bill Quinn Comments

Tonetech Ltd was the winner of the Greater Manchester Skills for Business, Retail Category on 3rd July 2014.  The awards final was held at the Manchester Hilton hotel and was hosted by Dara O Briain of "Apprentice you've been fired" fame. 

Skills For Business Award 1

Bill, Ciara and Mike

Bill Speaking

Award Trophy

Winner LogoSkills For Business Website

4 Jul 2014 11:31:59 By Bill Quinn Comments
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