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  #16  
Old 07-19-2019, 04:52 AM
TaranGuitars TaranGuitars is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haasome View Post
Great story and a very thoughtful process used to build beautiful guitars.
So pleased you're enjoying this!
All the best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erithon View Post
Great read! I'm looking forward to hearing more of the journey.
Many thanks. Next instalment coming today!
All the very best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymarsch View Post
Since I have heard wonderful things about your instruments and I am a huge fan of Martin Simpson, I will be following this thread with great interest. Thanks for taking the time to include us in this adventure!

Best,
Jayne
Hi Jayne,
Many thanks for your kind words. Next part of the adventure coming today.
All the very best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayfair View Post
Absolutely beautiful guitar and I'm sure working with Martin was an incredible experience.

I'll shoot you a PM. Avalon is currently building me a custom model and I'll be visiting Scotland soon. Would love to get together if we can work out the logistics.
Thank you! It certainly was a great experience.

Please do get in touch if you're up this way!

All the best,
Rory


Quote:
Originally Posted by RodB View Post
Hi Rory,

Quite a journey - an interesting read!

My 'Taran' gives me first hand confirmation on a daily basis of what wonderful instruments you produced before getting far down this road - and there I was thinking it had permanently satisfied any lingering GAS I had! Now I must get on with selling off my electrics and...

Thanks for sharing this. I too look forward to hearing more.
Hi Rod,

Thank you and delighted to hear you're still enjoying your Taran! More to follow today.

All the best,
Rory
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  #17  
Old 07-19-2019, 05:30 AM
TaranGuitars TaranGuitars is offline
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Originally Posted by David Wren View Post
Great story ... and great looking guitar taking shape Rory!
Thanks David! Next instalment coming today - hope you enjoy!
All the very best,
Rory

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Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
I am a big fan of MS! And of OLD Martin 000-18s, too. (Even though I do not have one, sigh...)

This will be most instructional and FUN too!

Carry on and enjoy!

Paul
Thanks Paul - it was a fantastic project to work on.

More coming soon!
All the best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deft Tungsman View Post
What thrilling project, man! To embark upon it with such consideration must provide plenty of self-doubt or second-guessing, those little hindrances you work through and learn from as the build progresses. Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse of your growth as a luthier.
Thank you. The process certainly allowed for lots of that which was exciting and illuminating in equal measures! More to follow...
All the very best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmagill View Post
Can you talk a bit about what you mean by 'spit'?
Hi,

In terms of 'spit', Martin and I considered this to be about the power at the start of the note. We were looking for a powerful but controllable punch which we called 'spit'.

All the very best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by M Sarad View Post
After playing a half dozen Martins from 1930 to 1937, I know the magic inside those boxes, from the OM 18, 28, 45 to the OOO 18, each one was wonderful, with the guitars from 1930 having the most Mojo.

I prefer a lighter build. When I was first going down the custom road, I contacted Sobell. He let me know he built thicker and heavier than what I was looking for. A friend bought a Brazilian Sobell that he picked up from Simpson in New Orleans. When I played it, I couldn’t get what I wanted out of it. When my friend played it, it sang like a choir of angels. It was all about the projection.

The old Martins put my ears in the middle of that choir. The 1930 OM 28 Jim Baggett handed me three years ago was simply amazing. It had a deep and wide sonic landscape, with far more of everything I want from a guitar than my Merrill OM 28 of Brazilian and Adirondack. As they say, “ Close, but no cigar.” I had the $38,000 he was asking, but my house was getting AC and a new deck. Prudence prevailed.

I am in love with the sound of Sobell, NK Forster, and now I am smitten by the possibilities presented by Taran.
Hi there,

Many thanks. over the years, I have learned that the most important element of any build is understanding the clients requirements regarding what I call, 'response level'. If you are a heavier player, you need a guitar that doesn't break-up when played with more force but sings. However, if you are a lighter player you need the guitar to sing with the lightest touch. Each soundboard I make takes the client into consideration on this front and thus each of my guitars are bespoke to the client but ultimately have my Taran sound.

All the very best,
Rory
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  #18  
Old 07-19-2019, 05:36 AM
TaranGuitars TaranGuitars is offline
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Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
Hi Rory, this was a great read - you communication your excitement and passion very well.

I'm a fan of 12 fret guitars and the image of the unfinished guitar is remarkably similar to a guitar I designed to be built by a friend, maybe 25 years ago, however the project coincided with my first ever period of unemployment for me so it was still-born.

I'm interested in your description of tonal qualities and your use of the term "spit". Am I correct in interpreting that as "attack" and/or, perhaps "velocity of sound"?

Anyway, it is delightful to read of a luthier and his passion. Keep up the story.
Hi,

Thank you. In terms of 'spit', Martin and I considered this to be about the power at the start of the note. We were looking for a powerful but controllable punch which we called 'spit'.

Next chapter coming today, hope you enjoy!
All the very best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by TomB'sox View Post
As everyone else has said, excellent story and very well written. I feel like I was in your head there myself. I can't wait to hear more and to meet you in person this Spring!!!!!!

Beautiful stuff here boys and girls!
Hi Tom,
Thanks for this and for everything. Looking forward to the build, the trip and finally meeting you in person!
All the very best,
Rory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Watts View Post
Nicely done Rory, I look forward to hearing the music martin will make with thsi guitar!
I'll show you one this weekend Michael!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gitarro View Post
Hello Rory

That read like the exciting start of a great novel and you left us in a cliffhanger as at august 2017 so there will be a lot more to the story left to tell so keep them coming!
Hi there,

Thank you. Hope you enjoy the next chapter coming today.
All the very best,
Rory
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  #19  
Old 07-19-2019, 09:24 AM
TaranGuitars TaranGuitars is offline
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Default Working with Martin Simpson - Chapter 2

Hi everyone, here's the next chapter of the story. Hope you enjoy!

TIME TO GO TO SHEFFIELD AGAIN

Again Martin played, we had banter but, on this visit I listened harder to the notes. This was perhaps when we started discussing guitars without words. Mad? Guitar making is in its purest form is only opinion. It is my opinion that says, ‘remove that shaving of wood, leave that brace at that height.’ There are no rights, no wrongs. I had built this guitar using the opinions I have, and because of these it sounded the way it did. When Martin played the guitar I could hear whether my thoughts/opinions were well founded or completely off-point. Like discussing politics with some one who knows it from every angle. Discussing guitars without words.

TaranGuitarsTirgaMhorMartinSimpson.jpg

The very first Tirga Mhor

TaranGuitarsTirgaMhorMartinSimpsonBack.jpg

When building I thought it was the lightness that would allow the fullness of the note to come out. I wasn’t completely wrong on this one. I’ve used the word ‘fullness’ and I suppose I mean ‘chewable’ or ‘rich’ or ‘rounded’. Basically, I wanted so much that you get lost in the note’s complexities. I felt that in this guitar it was almost like there wasn’t something to give it the fullness I was after. Too little mass in the guitar to shape the back of the note.

I had also reduced my sound board curve and, listening to the guitar, I felt that the separation wasn’t as prominent because of this. I’d done this because in my head, this would increase the spit creating a faster attack, which indeed it did, but I wasn’t willing to lose the separation. Somehow, I had to get both into one sound board?!

The note sang, no doubt about that, it had a kind of hollowness to it, a dry and punchy sound, absolutely perfect if that is what you are looking for. However for myself and Martin, it was just the starting point.

On that visit to Sheffield I also dropped by my great friend James Fagan. He has owned a Malaysian Blackwood Tirga Beag for the last 6 years. His guitar was a real cornerstone on my building and when I saw it again, I was reminded of the steps I had taken back then. It was almost like I had to make this new guitar and his as one.


James and Nancy Fagan
James playing his Tirga Beag

Leaving that day, I watched the countryside whistle past knowing it might well be some time before I’d be back. If I’m honest, there seemed like an insurmountable task in front of me. It was now September and I had to bury my head in the orders on the bench. I certainly didn’t park the Simpson project, I just needed a moment away to reflect. I had so many ideas that developing them all would take years.

THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY


On the 8th of January I received an email from Tania Spalt inviting me to the 2018 Holy Grail guitar show in Berlin. I instantly replied, which isn’t like me! ‘Yes.’

This was a perfect opportunity to get feedback from the guitar community and do some serious development work on new ideas I had settled on looking at over the winter. Thankfully the weather was in my favour and winter 2017 saw one day in particular where I was snowed in at Taran HQ. Nothing else to do but get building!

TaranGuitarsWhiteOut.jpg



I wanted to show 3 guitars, all with a development that would go to help the Tirga Mhor:

The first, a Tirga Beag DS1 in Malaysian with the next development in soundboard bracing. I knew how a Tirga Beag sounded so how did this change fare? It was the first Dowling Signature guitar. These are very limited edition series of my instruments, built from the finest woods with exclusive detailing that allow me to push developmental ideas and techniques.

TaranGuitarsTirgaBeagDS1.jpg

TaranGuitarsWengeNeckDS1.jpg

One of the techniques which I had been pursuing for a while was detailing involving a hot sand fade. This basically involved dipping the wood in hot sand without burning it! The result? A beautiful blending feature...

TaranGuitarsHotSandFadeDS1.jpg




Second, a Taran DS2 in Maple to test the beginning of the new back profile and ultimately the new Compression Braces. Again, I knew how this guitar sounded so how did this change affect.

TaranGuitarsMapleHeadstock.jpg

TaranGuitarsMapleInside.jpg

TaranGuitarsBlueBurrDS2.jpg

TaranGuitarsRosetteDS2.jpg

TaranGuitarsDS2.jpg

TaranGuitarsRosette2DS2.jpg

TaranGuitarsNewBackProfileDS2.jpg

TaranGuitarsBackProfileDS2.jpg

TaranGuitarsDetailsDS2.jpg




Lastly a Tirga Mhor in Tasmanian Blackwood. The next step on the model was to return to my standard building style to see how it fared. I had bought some Tasmanian Blackwood a year prior to this build. It being dry and ready, I just couldn’t resist using it.

TaranGuitarsTirgaMhor.jpg

TaranGuitarsTirgaMhorMasterGradeTasBlackwood.jpg


The second Tirga Mhor


The feedback from people in Berlin inspired me to move forward. I came away from the show with an elevated passion for building and I really felt that I had entered into a new community, a community of builders and players who delight in new ideas and progression.

From all three of the guitars I heard everything I wanted in one Tirga Mhor. It was time to push the developments, put them all together and see what Martin thought...

Next instalment to follow soon!
Thanks all,
Rory
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  #20  
Old 07-19-2019, 09:46 PM
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Chapter 2 was just as interesting as Chapter 1 Rory! Thanks. Personally, I am glad you are getting this all worked out before your most important build LOL!!! Beautiful guitars!!!
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  #21  
Old 07-20-2019, 01:35 AM
joeld joeld is offline
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I'm looking forward to when Martin joins this thread. I'd like to hear how much he loves his new guitar!
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  #22  
Old 07-20-2019, 07:21 AM
M Sarad M Sarad is offline
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Time to create a vacation built around distilleries and luthiers.
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  #23  
Old 07-21-2019, 09:19 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Ha ha - I guess I coud take all of you guys to the final Chapter if I were feeling malicious:

So I went to a fabulous UK guitar meet yesterday (thanks +++ Ian and Sharon, again) and there was Rory, and there was one of his guitars - a Tirga Mhor completed this very month, July 2019, i.e. one that incorporates all of the developments that Rory will talk about in this thread.

By way of background, I've owned a Taran Mhor and road tested a Tirga Beag a few years ago. I also had a BRW guitar from Rory a few years back to try out. In a nutshell, lovely guitars with the very highest woodworking skills on show, and very, very reminiscent sonically of the best of Stefan Sobell's work. I moved away from that type of sound a few years ago, in search of something perhaps a little warmer and less idiosyncratic, so Rory's lovely instruments haven't stayed with me.

So, I picked up his 2019 guitar yesterday, expecting more of the same.

Surely everything the man says here cannot be true? Can working with a single musician move things into a different paradigm, especially when you're already a hugely talented luthier?

Apparently it can.

Indeed so much so that...

Cheers,
Steve
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  #24  
Old 07-21-2019, 09:27 AM
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LOL clearly Steveh is as skilled as rory in the art of creating anticipation for the conclusion of the story!
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  #25  
Old 07-21-2019, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by steveh View Post
Ha ha - I guess I coud take all of you guys to the final Chapter if I were feeling malicious:

So I went to a fabulous UK guitar meet yesterday (thanks +++ Ian and Sharon, again) and there was Rory, and there was one of his guitars - a Tirga Mhor completed this very month, July 2019, i.e. one that incorporates all of the developments that Rory will talk about in this thread.

By way of background, I've owned a Taran Mhor and road tested a Tirga Beag a few years ago. I also had a BRW guitar from Rory a few years back to try out. In a nutshell, lovely guitars with the very highest woodworking skills on show, and very, very reminiscent sonically of the best of Stefan Sobell's work. I moved away from that type of sound a few years ago, in search of something perhaps a little warmer and less idiosyncratic, so Rory's lovely instruments haven't stayed with me.

So, I picked up his 2019 guitar yesterday, expecting more of the same.

Surely everything the man says here cannot be true? Can working with a single musician move things into a different paradigm, especially when you're already a hugely talented luthier?

Apparently it can.

Indeed so much so that...

Cheers,
Steve
Well I am on his build list (also???) and I have to say, this thread has made me even more excited that I was before and I was pretty excited!!! Ian's party was the impetus for last years party at my home in Texas. The best news is, Rory is coming this spring to the second one if this thread gets anyone longing to meet and and try his stuff (shameless plug, I know, but it is pretty cool he is coming).
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  #26  
Old 07-22-2019, 08:49 AM
TaranGuitars TaranGuitars is offline
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Default Woking with Martin Simpson - Chapter 3

TIME TO BRING IT TOGETHER

COMPRESSION BRACES

I’d had an idea for a new back profile and bracing for a while. As with everything, it needed to be tested and then tested again! One of the guitars coming to Berlin was a wee Taran in Maple. I used this guitar to test the new back profile. It worked brilliantly. It was difficult to make but worth it as the increased curve made for a the more reflective back that threw the sound out. Here is Michael Watts playing the Maple Taran.


https://youtu.be/vLUBCuIcAJ8


Next on my list were the new compression braces. The principle of the compression braces is to maintain the cylindrical back profile but allow it to vibrate while giving a reflective surface for sound waves.

The benefits are 3 fold:

Comfort
People always say to me that my guitars are particularly comfortable because of the cylindrical back profile. This characteristic allows you to play a large instrument without it feeling too big. It feels deceptively smaller bodied as the widest part of the lower bout is also the narrowest in depth. As opposed to a rib rest that cuts the edge off, the cylindrical back profile hugs the player and also brings the playing position into a closer and more natural posture.

Projection
We could go into the complexities of the vibrations of a guitar here, but let’s imagine sound as a tennis ball. If you throw that ball against a bed sheet on a washing line it will disappear into the sheet and then fall to the ground. If you throw the same ball against a brick wall, it will come back and hit you in the face! In guitar terms, the reflection of sound off this solid surface is vital in order to hear the guitar, both as a player and as an audience. The cylindrical profile of the back makes an extremely reflective surface that throws the vibrations off of the sound board, out of the sound hole, into the ears of the player and far beyond.

Colour of sound
Every piece of wood has its own tonal quality and influences the instrument’s sound differently. This is where the compression braces really start to work their magic. The nature of the compression brace is to have minimal mass on the back of the guitar. This allows the back to vibrate as freely as possible across its entire area. This resonance influences the sound of the guitar, allowing the character of each variety of wood to be maximised; be it rich, earthy, bright or dry.

Happy with the profile, I needed to develop a brace strong enough to hold the shape while having the lightest mass possible. The design of these braces was inspired by the principles of archery. I used a strip of wood or “Bow” under both compression and tension because it is fixed at both ends by a non stretchable material. The theory worked, but as with every part of a guitar it was crucial to get the balance between strength and weight, with knife edge precision.




The first compression braces.



New back design with Triple Sides



TO DOUBLE SIDE OR TRIPLE SIDE?

I’ve been building with double sides for years now when I’m looking for a thicker, less hollow sound. The Triple sides do this but also make the sides even more stiff. I wanted this because the back was a new design and I needed to guarantee no movement in the sides. I also needed that thicker sound so the triple sides were a a win win. After a lot of thought, I used a Closed Cell foam instead of Nomex Honeycomb for the internal layer. I felt that having a whole surface would make it as stiff as the honeycomb but without the air cavity while keeping the monocoque construction. Like a surf board, it relies on the two outside surfaces to give the soft foam its stiffness and rigidity. This side unit was insanely stiff! Once the back was on I could tell this was going to be very different. It rang like a sound board when tapped or when the radio in the shop was on.






Triple Sides


Double Sides


Single Sides




NECK MATERIAL AND NECK JOINTS

I’d been looking for a wood that sits between light stiff Mahogany and very dense and super stiff Wenge for a while. The more dense the neck wood the more focused the sound. Wenge is amazing at adding power to a guitar because of its stiffness. I wanted this stiffness for the power but I didn’t want to focus the sound too much. I had bought a board of Padauk when on a trip down south and when cutting this for inside sides I was blown away at how stiff it was but it was almost light as Mahogany. Perfect!

This new Tirga Mhor was to have a Cut-away allowing access above the 12th fret neck joint. I wanted a really slimmed down heel to maximise the neck length. Basically, I imagined the heel part of the neck inside the body of the guitar. I also wanted it to be glueless because I love a challenge and it meant any future adjustments would be very easy. The fret board extension allows for a glueless joint because it is dovetailed in, which stops the neck rising up from the pull of the strings. A great process and now standard on all of my guitars.


Padauk Neck blanks


A Volute with a Neck graft for strength


Totally glue free Neck joint. Tenon and dovetail fretboard extension with M6 bolts. More solid and stable than a dovetail.

Last edited by TaranGuitars; 07-24-2019 at 04:20 AM.
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  #27  
Old 07-22-2019, 08:55 AM
TaranGuitars TaranGuitars is offline
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Default Working with Martin Simpson - Final Chapter

SOUNDBOARD

With the developments since the first Ulladale that went down to Martin on the soundboard design, an untrained eye would notice very little. But while the pattern remains very similar, almost everything else has changed; From brace size and height. Brace taper areas. The curves used. Board thicknesses. Neck angle. The list continues…

For the first Tirga Mhor DS build I wanted to use something special. I’d been sent a few sets of Swiss Bearclaw spruce by my friend/wood provider Stephen Keys. It was perfect for this build. Beautifully figured, stiff and close but not too closely grained.

A RUN DOWN OF THIS TIRGA MHOR.

Back - Master Grade Tasmanian Blackwood with Compression Braces.

Sides - Master Grade Tasmanian Blackwood and Padauk Triple sides.

Soundboard - Master Grade Swiss Spruce.

Rosette - Hot Fade Crail Elm and Wenge.

Bindings - Ebano & Scottish Sycamore purfling.

Front Purfling - Padauk purfling around the soundboard.

Linings - No linings.

Bevel - Hot Fade Flamed Jarah.

Neck - Padauk with Graft and Volute. Glueless neck joint. 2 way Truss and 2 6mm carbon rods.

Fret Board - Ebony bound with Ebano.

Fret Markers - 9Ct Gold dots with 9Ct Gold Circles at 12th fret.

Frets - EVOGold wire with Semi Hemispherical fret ends.

Headstock - Hot fade Flamed Jarah with black veneers under sheaths.

Tuners - Gotoh 510’s in Gold.

Hand Carved Solid Ebony Bridge with Ebony Pins.

t. Hand cut from solid 9 Ct Gold sheet.






















THE VERDICT?

It is my 102nd guitar. When I first strung it up it was different, I could hear that.

I sent it off to Sheffield.

Martin called a month later. “I really think you need to hear this, Rory”, were his words.

Seated again in front of Martin I heard the guitar, laid out in full before my ears. Did it sound as I had imagined? It was bloody close!

“Rory’s work has been on my radar for several years, I have always enjoyed watching him chase ideas and improvements in his building.

I enjoy my friendships and working relationships with some of the best guitar builders on the planet and was very pleased to share ideas with Rory and show him instruments.

A 1931 00018 Twelve Fret and a Sobell Steinbeck conspired with Rory’s ideas and out came this very fine instrument which is it’s own beast!

You can hear it on my forthcoming CD.”


— Martin Simpson






This adventure has influenced everything about guitar making for me and continues to push my work. I have met so many wonderful builders and players in the last 2 and half years that I would like to thank for all of their support, kind words and advice. Most of all I want to thank Martin for pushing me and always being excited about the guitars I’ve shown him and for questioning my opinions without saying a word! We are still asking, what if?

Thanks for following and for taking the time to read about this project.
All the very best,
Rory
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  #28  
Old 07-22-2019, 09:18 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Outstanding, Rory! I have already pre-ordered Martin's latest CD so I look forward to hearing this beauty in the mix.

Best,
Jayne
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  #29  
Old 07-24-2019, 01:19 PM
steveh steveh is offline
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Indeed so much so that...
Time to explain myself: I actually came home with the guitar.
It's the one Michael Watts is playing in this video:



Like I said in my previous post, I have plenty of experience with Rory's guitars, including playing the maple model DS#2 Rory mentions above. The most impressive was a BRW model a few years back that had celestial trebles. However, they have all reminded me of superbly made Sobells. Not a bad thing at all!

However, this guitar is different and my first impression is that Rory has achieved something that I (and others) have been looking for for a long time. That is, a combination of the clarity, presence and separation of a Sobell with something a bit more mellow, warmer and deeper. Getting both these characteristics in one guitar is a bit of a Holy Grail AFAIAC.

I've owned 5 Sobells over many years and ultimately moved all of them on because they were a little too steely and direct for my present tastes, which increasingly tend towards the warmer because of my nylon infatuation. I "relapse" every now and again when I fancy doing a (poor) Martin Simpson impersonation, get another Sobell, and then move on. Rory's new model could be a better long term bet and, I think, will have a broader appeal to many players. And his woodworking skills are mad. I mean that. Get to look at one up close. You'll be there a long time if you want to find a flaw.

I'm exceptionally happy with the guitars I have (a Sands and Claxton) and am definitely not searching for another, not least because I've been 90% nylon for the last couple of years. Nevertheless, this latest development from Rory has more than piqued my interest. And those of several others who played it (indeed one of my pals got on Rory's list a couple of weeks ago after playing a recent model).

Let's see: Rory has very gracefully left the axe with me in order for me to arrive at a decision that is not rushed.

Cheers,
Steve
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  #30  
Old 07-24-2019, 02:13 PM
MThomson MThomson is offline
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I got on his build list after playing one of the recent models too. Was absolutely fantastic and I'm really looking forward to the whole process with Rory. He's a great guy to chat guitars with
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