Shirl's Page

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Guitar Stuff

There's a lot of information on this page, since it's currently how I spend most of my time. At the top you can read about my guitars. Lower down are links to many guitar resources, including builders (both UK and elsewhere), accessories, music and guitar related software, some recording information and finally links to interesting guitar related places (including several pages about RMMGA). Right at the bottom are links to some tunes I've written. If you have a listen, please drop me a line and let me know what you think :-)

If you're looking for something in particular, please type it into the box and you should go straight there :-) If there's a link to an interesting builder or resource that I've missed, please let me know and I'll include it.

My Guitars

I bought a nice Taylor 610 in February 1998, but soon decided that it was too big for me. So I looked into British luthiers, and decided to ask Alan Marshall of Northworthy Musical Instruments in Derbyshire to make me a new guitar. He did, and it's utterly excellent! Beautiful to look at, and wonderful tone. People who want to know all the juicy details can look here for further information :-)

A couple of years ago I decided I'd like an electric guitar, so I sold Che to a friend, Julian, from the acoustic guitar newsgroup. I was very sorry to see it go, but I know it's in good hands with Julian. Meanwhile, I have a pretty cool electric.

Meanwhile, and back in 1998, collecting the first Northworthy guitar had led to a massive GAS attack, so I began to wonder whether I could sell my Taylor and buy another Northworthy... Since no-one seemed to want to buy my nice Taylor, I traded it in for a second Northworthy guitar. This is the prettiest guitar I've ever seen, and sounds fantastic. Further details are available here :-)

In about 2001 I decided to buy a Larrivee Parlour guitar for travelling. I'd read loads of great things about them on RMMGA, and also about Tony Rairden of FQMS in America, so I decided to ask Tony to choose a good one for me. Larrivee Parlour guitars were very thin on the ground in the UK at that time - they still are, really - and it's difficult to get anything other than the mahogany models here, but Tony recommended the Koa version and so that's what I got. It was a really lovely little guitar with a very cute little case, but in 2003 I succumbed to GAS again and decided to buy a different travel guitar: this time a Bovey from Brook Guitars in Devon. I therefore decided to sell the Larrivee, as it seems wrong to have lovely guitars sitting around in cases unplayed when that's not what they were made for.

The Brook guitar is an absolute joy. I drove down to Devon and spent a couple of days there, having fun and choosing my guitar. I was lucky enough to have met Simon at UK4 and UK5, so I felt very much at home.

Brook guitars are based in an idyllic setting in the middle of deep countryside near Exeter, in buildings that I think used to be the base for Andy Manson, with whom Simon and Andy learned to make guitars. The guitar I chose is maple and spruce, so it both looks and sounds fantastic.

I've not taken a photo yet, but in the meantime here's a link to a picture of me with Michael Dunnigan's green Brook Bovey, which is what caused me to begin to want one in the first place...

How can you buy a hand-made British Guitar?

Anyone in the UK thinking of buying a fine guitar may well be thinking about buying an import. If so, *stop there* and think about getting a British luthier to make one for you instead. It's a bit of a wait, but on the other hand you get to choose the sound, the woods, the decoration and just about everything else. And you'll almost certainly end up paying significantly less than you would for that imported guitar.

If you don't want to wait then think about contacting the British makers to see what they might have ready to go. It's usually difficult to find their stuff in the shops, other than locally or at a few places in London, but all the guitar makers I've come across are very happy for potential customers to go over and have a look at what's available, and even happier when someone buys something and takes it home with them :-)

If you'd like to contact Northworthy then you can do so via email by clicking here. There's also a web site, and snail mail is at Northworthy Musical Instruments, Main Road, Hulland Ward, Ashbourne, Derbyshire. The telephone number is 01335 370806 (or +44 (0)1335 370806 if you're outside the UK): ask for Alan Marshall.

If you'd like to contact Brook Guitars then their email address is here, direct to the workshop. Snail mail is Easterbrook, Nr Hittisleigh, Exeter, Devon, EX6 6LR, and their telephone number is 01647 24139 (which is +44 (0)1647 24139 for those outside the UK). Ask for Simon or Andy. The website is here.

Guitar Resources

Some UK builders/Fixers
Northworthy Guitars I've bought two, so that tells you what I think about them. Anyone in Britain looking for a great hand made guitar should check them out. Ring them on 01335 370806 and speak to Alan or Zena.
Brook Guitars I first played these English guitars at a guitar festival at the NEC in Birmingham, and could not have been more impressed. They gave me almost the only GAS attack I've had since buying my Northworthys! I then got the chance to play more of them when Simon Smidmore brought a van full to UK4 in March 2001, and I fell completely in love with the silky low actions and fantastic sound. As mentioned above, I now have a Bovey of my own.
Brook now have a great web page, written and maintained by Michael Dunnigan (owner of 3 gorgeous green Brooks!). If you're in London, go and play some at Ivor Mairants, just off Oxford Street.
Bill Puplett Bill Puplett makes exciting and beautiful guitars, including Adrian Legg's current stage guitar, but he's also just about the most knowledgeable and sought after fixer of guitars and guitar related problems - both electric and acoustic - in the UK. He doesn't have a website, but if you search for him in Google you'll find contact details. If you have a problem with your guitar, Bill can fix it: ring him...
Fylde Guitars Fylde have been making beautiful guitars for many years now. I particularly like the cedar/walnut Alchemist, which is a relatively new design based on its big brother, the Magician. These guitars are available direct from Fylde, and also at shops throughout the UK and some discerning guitar shops in the US.
Lowden Guitars Lowden Guitars are built in Northern Ireland. They're just beautiful! George Lowden made many people happy by travelling over especially to speak to us at the UK2 RMMGA Gathering in Chipping Norton last October. Many thanks, George :-) (Anyone who would like to read about George's visit, and the 25th Anniversary model, can do so on David Kilpatrick's web pages.)
North American builders
Kinscherff Guitars I've been lucky enough to play quite a few Kinscherff guitars now, having first met Jamie Kinscherff when he travelled to Derbyshire from Texas for UK4 in March 2001. Jamie's guitars sound wonderful and are an absolute dream to play. The workmanship is immaculate. As if that weren't enough, Jamie is also one of the sweetest and coolest people I've ever met :-) I reckon there's quite a lot of Jamie in each of his guitars, which is why they come out the way they do. A number of very discerning players on the acoustic guitar NG are lucky enough to own Jamie's guitars. If you ever get the chance to play one, don't pass it up :-)
Mark Blanchard I played a couple of Mark's beautiful guitars at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival in August 2001, and they were really lovely. People were getting quite excited about them there :-)
Dunwell Guitars Alan makes gorgeous guitars. I played one at Healdsburg and saw several, and I'm still drooling over memories of a small bodied guitar in walnut...
Gevers I was lucky enough to play a Gevers at UK5. They're made in Okanagan valley, B.C. Canada, by Walter Gevers, and it was absolutely beautiful. Those Canadians make some gorgeous guitars.
Goodall Another U.S. builder. I've played two, and they were both superb.
Larrivee Larrivee are based in Canada, and make some pretty great guitars. The travel guitar most often recommended on the acoustic guitar NG is currently the Larrivee Parlour guitar, and I bought one of these via FQMS (see below) earlier this year. It's a great little guitar in its own right, but particularly good if you want to take a guitar when you have to travel but don't want to take a full size case. If you're in the UK, I'd suggest that you don't buy one here unless you're prepared to pay silly prices - instead, look into importing one via FQMS, as I did.
Leach Guitars Harvey makes great and gorgeous guitars, and contributes to RMMGA. I played one at Healdsburg, and it was just as nice as everything I'd read had suggested it would be.
C F Martin Martin make fine U.S. guitars too.
Mauel Guitars I've read great things about Hank's guitars on RMMGA. I played Daniel Nestlerode's when I went to Healdsburg this year, and I thought it felt and sounded wonderful. A real fingerpicker's guitar.
Roy McAlister I've read lots of great stuff about Roy's guitars. I saw several at Healdsburg, and they looked quite outstanding. I've not played one yet, but those who have say they sound just as good as they look.
Lance McCollum Yet more great handmade guitars from the U.S.! I played a couple of Lance's guitars at Healdsburg, and they were superb.
Olson Guitars Many discerning people play Olson guitars, including James Taylor who has several. I've never been lucky enough to touch one, but there's an Olson parlour guitar right at the top of my wish list.
Kevin Ryan I've never seen a Ryan guitar either, but I've read all about them on the acoustic guitar NG. It's clear from what I've read that they're outstanding - I'd like one of these too :-)
Tacoma Tacoma make great guitars, and have lots of admirers on the acoustic guitar NG.
Taylor Taylor make fine U.S. guitars.
Yamaha My other guitar's a Yamaha, and it's pretty good for a beater.
Guild of American Luthiers There are too many great American luthiers for me to attempt to list them, so this is a good place to start. Many of them hang out on RMMGA, if you'd like to contact them.
Ultrasound Amps These are just fantastic acoustic guitar amps that I first read about on the guitar NG, RMMGA. I'd just bought an AER amp, but these sounded so good that I wanted to try them out. I had one sent over from the States, and I have to say that I think it sounds even more natural than my AER. If you're interested in achieving as natural a sound as possible for your acoustic guitar, you should really check these out!
Strings Direct I buy my Gore Elixir strings mail order from Strings Direct in the UK. I'm very impressed - I ring up and order them (or you can do it online), and almost without exception they arrive in the post the following morning. You can get strings there that are very difficult to find in UK shops. Highly recommended! Ring them on 01702 290001, or order from their web page.
First Quality Music Supplies FQMS is a great US store for all sorts of guitar related stuff. They also do mail order to the UK. It's often cheaper to buy from them than to pay rip-off import prices over here. I put this into practise when I bought a Koa Larrivee Parlour guitar from FQMS by mail order earlier this year. Tony Rairden got it here incredibly quickly and in perfect condition, and it cost much less than it would have cost from any UK source I've come across. Check them out!
Breezy Ridge Instruments Ltd This is the home of John Pearse's great strings, and lots of other great guitar related kit and gadgets. Many people on RMMGA are very impressed with the John Pearse Armrest. It attaches to the edge of the soundboard and prevents your arm from deadening the top. It's easy to apply, and can be safely removed (if you take a little care). I have one on one of my guitars, and I'm thinking about getting a second.
Calton Cases These are great, bomb-proof cases. I have one for each of my Northworthy guitars. They're expensive, but if you need peace of mind then these are the ones to look at first.
Gore Elixir Strings People seem to either love or hate these strings from Gore. I love them, and have been using them on both of my guitars for about 10 months now. They're more expensive than other strings, but the bottom four strings have a polyweb coating that makes them last much longer and vastly reduces string squeak. I also find them very comfortable to play. Check them out :-) (And if you *do* check them out, make sure you leave them on the guitar for at least 24 hours before deciding you don't like them - the experience of many people on RMMGA is that they sound much better a day after you've first put them on.)
Newtone Strings These strings are hand made in Derbyshire. I recently tried them, and liked them very much. You can get them direct from Malcolm Newton, or you can buy them mail order from Strings Direct (see above).
StewMac Guitar Shop Supplies If you want to make or fix a guitar, here's a good place to find supplies.
Guitar Information
RMMGA This is a great newsgroup for those interested in acoustic guitars. It's full of friendly and helpful enthusiasts, both amateur and professional. There's a real sense of community there, and a number of us (in England and in the U.S.) have got together from time to time to spend the weekend playing guitars, eating, drinking and generally having a blast. Some of us have also contributed to RMMGA CDs - CD1 came out at the beginning of the year, and CD2 is in the pipeline. Click here to read more about the gatherings and the CDs, and also to find links to several web pages connected with RMMGA.
FRETS This is an excellent site, with all sorts of helpful information presented in a witty and interesting form.
Dan's Guitar & Mando Links Daniel Nestlerode's page is the most comprehensive list of link to guitar related matters that I have ever seen - it really is impressive, and lots of fun. Check it out :-)
Guitar Gallery This is a fantastic site to browse. There are all sorts of high end acoustic guitars here - it's one of my favourite places to kill an hour or so.
Cotten Music Centre This is another place I frequently read great things about on RMMGA - it's clear from what people say that the service and selection there are second to none.
Harmony Central A great resource for all sorts of guitar related things.
Dansm's Acoustic Guitar Pages These pages are written by Dan Smith, and they're a mine of information about learning the guitar. They're also beautifully constructed - I'm green with envy! Well worth checking out. See the site index on Dan's home page and follow the links.
Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine As the name suggests, this is the web page for Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine.
Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop If you're looking for instructional materials (CDs, Videos, Books), check out this site. There's loads of stuff here. The link is to the European Office (for PAL format videos), but the US Office can be found here
Music Related Software
WinAmp This is a popular Freeware MP3 player.
MusicMatch Jukebox This is another great MP3 player. You can rip all your CDs to MP3s and then put them away. MusicMatch will organise them all for you, and you can make play-lists and have a great time :-)
RealAudio Player This is where to go to download the Real Audio player. It's something you should definitely get hold of to hear all those streaming sounds now available on the internet. You can hear some of my own streaming sounds if you go to the bottom of this page :)
TablEdit This is the best Tab Editor I've found, and I've tried out quite a few. You can download an evaluation version, but I found that the registered version was loads better. It's only $55 US, and you can display and print your music in tab and in standard notation. It will play the tab you enter as a midi file. In fact, it does tons of stuff - nip across to the web page and take a look.
Sibelius Probably the best music notation software in the world. At £595 UK it's pretty expensive, so I don't have a copy, but it's there on my wish list. For a professional musician, though, or an accomplished amateur, it represents great value. You can download an evaluation copy from the web site and drool...
SlowGold This is a great programme for slowing down sound files in order to tab them out. I do this often with CDs - it's fun, and a good way to develop a good ear. SlowGold ($49.95 US) slows down the file without changing the pitch, and the sound quality is very good indeed. There's also SlowBlast ($19.95 US)
CoolEdit 2000 This is a digital audio software package. I started with the evaluation version, but now I'm using the registered version with the Studio Plugin. It's now possible to order it online. Cool Edit 2000 costs $69 US.
AudioGrabber This program "grabs" digital audio from CDs, producing perfect copies in WAV or MP3 format. It's Shareware, and great!
Alternate Guitar Tuning Applet This is a great little program for help with alternate tunings.
Chord Diagram Maker Over on RMMGA recently, someone commented that it would be very useful to have a little program to make clear chord diagrams. So David Moss just wrote one! Thanks very much indeed, David :-) It's available on David's Website. (Download chords.exe, notes.ini, ctones.ini and readme.txt, and start by reading the readme file.)
Recording Help
The Recording FAQ This is the FAQ posted weekly to the NG It's packed with information about home recording. A newsgroup devoted to recording issues. Another newsgroup with help for home recorders.
My Tunes
There's a page of guitar tunes that I've written and/or recorded right here, as well as a number of MIDI tunes I've written and/or arranged.

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