Custom-made Fylde 12-string

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JeffPorter
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Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:48 pm

Custom-made Fylde 12-string

Postby JeffPorter » Thu Sep 15, 2016 3:16 pm

This post is kind of an open letter to Gordon himself:

I was lucky enough to attend your Masterclass at the London Acoustic Guitar Show on Sunday 11 September 2016. I was the guy who recalled your appearance at the now-demolished Glasgow Apollo theatre in 1977 when you toured the “Perilous Journey” album, and the audience wouldn’t let you leave the stage until you’d performed “Heartsong” as an encore – three times.

I approached you afterwards but I assume you had something more pressing at that moment. However, you said that if we bumped into each other later in the day we should sit and talk guitars.

Unfortunately, we missed each other. So, especially in light of the film on this site of you playing John Martyn’s Fylde 12-string, I thought I’d use this forum to tell you about mine.

It’s a Fylde Prospero Custom 12, dating from 1975. The serial number is 370 and this is not, as you guessed it might be, on a blue label. The label is orange and gives the place of manufacture as Kirkham, Lancs.

Sadly, a long-ago computer crash means that I have lost the email conversation I had with Roger Bucknall about this guitar, so the details I have are few.

It’s a one-off built to special order, and the name of the client is one of the details I’ve lost. I do know that he sold the guitar (and others) to fund his son’s musical career, and that the son went on to play with Tommy Emmanuel (so that worked out well).

I bought the guitar from David Crozier of Guitar Junction, in Worthing, at the London Guitar Show in May 2006, at the Wembley Conference Centre. (The current Acoustic Guitar show at Olympia is, I believe, under different management.) It cost me £895, including hard-shell case.

I was looking around the guitars on sale, not really expecting to buy anything, when I saw the 12-string on a two-tier carousel. There was something about the proportions that intrigued me, and I went back to look at it again. And again.

On my third visit I realised that it was a 12-fret design, but there was something more. I carefully lifted it off the carousel and presented it top-to-top to another guitar, and that’s when I realised that it was a short-scale model.

It was at this point that David Crozier approached me. He’d seen me come and go and knew I was interested in the guitar. He didn’t make much of a sales pitch (he probably didn’t have to), and when I said that I didn’t know whether I could justify the expense, he asked: “Do you have to?” Smart guy – that clinched the sale because my answer was “no”.

So here are the technical details in full, as I have them:
1975 Fylde Prospero Custom 12
Serial no 370; made in Kirkham, Lancs
Single Venetian cutaway
Sitka spruce top; mahogany back and sides; ebony bridge and fingerboard
Two-piece mahogany neck with ebony pinstripe; ebony heelcap
Schaller tuning machines
Scale length 24 3/16 in; nut width 1 15/16 in; zero fret; 12 frets to body
Body 15 1/8in across lower bout; 4in deep

Unfortunately, I don’t play the 12-string much, and certainly not as much as it deserves. Although I play out often, it’s usually in a duo format with my friend Steve under the name One Man Down. Almost all of the venues we play at are entirely acoustic, and much of our material has Steve playing lead lines on guitar or mandolin, and the Fylde would just drown him out. (I’m the rhythm guy, and my main performance guitar is my Takamine LTD98.) I do occasionally play my Moon bouzouki but I have to be careful not to hit the strings too hard, because that instrument is phenomenal.

When I do play the 12-string, though, I’m always struck by the beauty of its tone – as is anyone listening.

I’d be honoured if you (Gordon) would like to play this guitar. If you find yourself in south-west London at any time, I run a twice-monthly folk club called the Teddington Acoustic Music Club at The Adelaide on Park Road. We have sessions on the evening of the first Friday of every month, and the afternoon of the third Sunday of every month except December. The format is entirely open-mic, there is no entrance fee, and the only money that changes hands is when you buy drinks downstairs in the bar (or enjoy the excellent pub meals) – we get the upstairs room for free because we bring in custom.

If you let me know beforehand that you’re coming, I’ll be sure to bring the guitar with me.

All other members of this forum (and their friends, families, co-workers, neighbours, pets, etc) are equally welcome to come to the club. It has a reputation (for which I take no personal credit) for being the friendliest club in the area, and our regular performers include all abilities from beginner to professional (up to and including one guy who was a Big Name in the 1960s and 70s).

So, there it is – the story of my Fylde. I hope you find it interesting.

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GORDON
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Re: Custom-made Fylde 12-string

Postby GORDON » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:54 pm

Hello Sir.

It was good to meet you and so sorry we couldn't chat more at the time as the organisers were clearing the room for the next person and I had to go for an interview.I would have loved to talk more.I think that guitar was made for the father of Gareth Pearson,a great player who has indeed been the guest of Tommy many times.

That guitar sounds fantastic my friend and THANKYOU for the invite.If I ever am in the area it would be lovely to drop in.

Thanks again for the lovely memory of years ago at The Apollo.Great days indeed.Be well and thanks for that lovely posting.G.


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