Tuesday, 30 December 2008

X Rated

It occurs to me that if music is going to be at all competitive, then the playing field ought to be level, at very least. Call me an old radical, but I'm suggesting that there should be an entirely separate chart for singles released by X Factor winners. 
Let's face it, if you promote anything on TV for around 16 weeks, it's going to capture the public's attention and, as such, nothing else can compete. That type of promotion would cost six figures - way out of reach for most artists - and so judging an X Factor single alongside something with a 'normal' amount of PR behind it isn't at all fair.
In fact, I'm surprised that the fair trading people haven't caught onto the scam - but there again, it's only music, isn't it? (And yes, I think Jeff Buckley's version of 'Hallelujah' is much better than... oooh, wass'ername's!)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Dreaming Of A Fylde Christmas...

Here are some more 'work in progress' pictures of my new Fylde Falstaff acoustic guitar which is currently being built for me in Penrith by Roger Bucknall and his team. Last time we had reached the stage where the body was being glued together; now, the first picture shows a rebate being cut into the body to allow the decorative bindings to be fitted.


This picture shows the bindings in place around the perimeter of the body... Which means that this stage of construction is pretty much complete and the next step is to apply the first of around a dozen coats of lacquer.


After a thorough sanding, the body is now placed in the spraying area to await its first coat...


This next shot was taken after the initial coat of lacquer had been applied - you can see from the picture that this has darkened the rosewood down a little - and that it's beginning to look like a real guitar!


The body will now be hand-sanded between subsequent sprayings - Roger tells me that the final coat is left for up to 12 days to harden thoroughly before being buffed to the famous Fylde mirror finish.

So while all that is going on, work starts on the neck. This begins as a single piece of Honduras mahogany which is sliced into three sections before some black lamination is inserted - then it's glued back together.


Once the glue is completely dry, the channel for the truss rod is carved out...


And there we leave it for now. If you're interested in having your own guitar built for you at Fylde - or would like to be kept abreast of developments with the company, why not hike on over to their website at www.fyldeguitars.com and sign up for the email newsletter. Alternatively, take a look around the site - there are bags more pics to look at and many more details regarding how all the instruments are built.
Finally, if you own a Fylde and you've moved since you bought it, drop Roger an email via the site and let him know your new address.

Now I think I'll go and uncork myself a bottle of seasonal yo ho ho... Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Going Bespoke IV

Photographs from Fylde Guitars continue to flood into my inbox. When the guitar arrives here, I'll probably write the whole thing up into an article - I find the whole subject of acoustic guitar construction fascinating and I hope a few other iTalk Guitar members will, too!

In any case, our latest batch of pics starts pretty much where the last lot left off; we'd got to the stage where the slots for the guitar's inlays around the soundhole had been cut - and here they are being filled in.


The bracing on the underside of a guitar's soundboard is there for two principle reasons: firstly to add strength and secondly to influence the way in which the top vibrates as this has a great effect on the sound of the guitar. Each maker has his own formula for bracing - here we see the classic X brace (pioneered by the Martin guitar company) surrounded by Roger Bucknall's own tried and tested formula for producing a solid, rich tone from the soundboard.


The back of the guitar receives some bracing, too. Two centre reinforcing strips along the 'seam' or joint in the bookmatching, plus horizontal braces to add strength.


Now it's time to begin putting the various elements we've seen constructed together. Here, bracing is being added to the guitar's sides - once again, this is for strength, in order to make the 'box section' of the guitar sturdy enough to withstand the various slings and arrows that we musicians inflict on our treasured instruments!


Once the various components of the guitar's soundbox are ready for final assembly, the top and back are both test fitted to the sides to ensure a good fit. Here, the back is being scrutinised before gluing:


The final stage before the body is finally glued together - test fitting the top:


I'm hugely indebted to Roger Bucknall at Fylde Guitars for sending me these pictures. As many musicians know, it's possible to form a very special bond with an instrument and these images will ensure that I will literally know this acoustic guitar inside and out!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Going Bespoke III

Excitement is rife here at Mead Towers as more pictures are coming in showing the construction of my new handcrafted acoustic guitar - a Fylde Falstaff.
In the first picture, the back of the guitar is being reinforced down the centre joint using spruce strips. The back of an acoustic guitar is usually a piece of bookmatched wood, which means it is a single piece of timber that has been cut in half parallel to the grain and opened out like a book. If you look at the Rio's grain in the pic, you'll see that each half is a mirror image of the other.


Next, the linings are being attached to the sides of the guitar. These are strips of wood that have been partially sawn so that they bend in a flexible strip along the guitar's extremities. The reason for this is that it presents a wider surface for attaching the top and back of the guitar using glue.


In the next photo, Roger Bucknall is cutting the top (or soundboard) of the guitar. This is master grade Engelmann Spruce - very straight, tightly grained wood which is native to Canada.


Lastly, the slots for the rosette or inlays around the guitar's soundhole are cut out.


I can't really describe what it's like to see an instrument being created like this - one that I'm going to be making music with before too long. Obviously I expected to be a little bit excited, but in reality I'm like a kid waiting for Santa! 

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Play (Virtually) Anything

I saw an episode of the excellent South Park recently. It was called 'Guitar Queer-O' and clearly based on the PlayStation game that has recently grabbed the public's attention. (Of course, Guitar Hero has also grabbed the attention of the music industry as they've been positively queueing up to get the music from various bands included in the next version. The royalties would probably get Woolworth's out of the red. They never miss a trick...)
Anyway, there was one point in the episode which I found really resonant; Randy Marsh (Stan's dad) comes home to find the boys playing Guitar Hero and asks his wife if they've learnt to play guitar. She tells him what goes on in the game and he returns to the living room to ask the boys if they'd like him to show them how to really play the song they'd been 'playing' on screen ('Carry On Wayward Son' by Kansas). He gets out an amp and a Les Paul and begins to play the song for real. Afterwards he says to the boys, 'I can actually play a lot of these songs on guitar. Do you want me to show you how?' Cartman replies... 'That's gay, Mr Marsh...' and they return to the virtual world of cheering audiences and guitar riffs at the press of a button.
Now you might think that I'm about to make some sort of cosmic point here, but I'm not. Well, not really... It's just that I was nearly in exactly the same situation about a year ago. My sons apparently conspired to buy me Guitar Hero for my birthday, the only thing stopping them was... well, I could really play, so what was the point? But I guess I'm not opposed to the idea that guitar superstardom should be available to everyone as part of a video game - although I do have issues with the Wii equivalent because it sounds bloody awful! I might allow myself a slight concern that playing the guitar might just be misconstrued as being 'easy' and I do think that if you're willing to go so far, why not go the whole way and learn for real...
Oh, I said I wasn't going to make any points, didn't I? Sorry. It's hard...
Still, I expect that common sense will click in at some point and people will realise that learning to press some coloured buttons on a plastic guitar isn't really playing. I mean, just because I've successfully completed the first two Halo games doesn't really qualify me for real time intergalactic combat, now does it?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

My Day In The Sun

I was once given away as a prize in The Sun newspaper... Well, okay, it wasn't exactly me personally they were offering up but my dubious skills as a guitar educator - which amounts to the same thing, in many ways.
It all started when I was promoting a new book - I forget which - and my publisher rang to ask if I fancied being sold into slavery in the tabloids. The idea was that we'd offer a free guitar lesson as part of a massive music promotion The Sun was running. I agreed, despite not exactly being a fan of The Sun or any of its orbiting planetabloids. I mean, I stopped reading newspapers when Murdoch bought The Times, don'tcha know?
Anyhow, the competition was run - I believe people had to save the ring pull tops from Coke or Pepsi cans and send them in - and so I guess the tabloids could be held responsible for rotting teeth as well as fragile young minds. And I was their willing accomplice... oh, the shame.
Naturally I bought a copy of the paper just to see what they said about me. No matter how I feel about them, a kindly word or three from a national newspaper is always worth appending to the ol' CV, after all.
In the end, I think they damned me with faint praise by publishing some lukewarm comment about the book I has just written and so, alas, my CV is still unadorned by national rag-praise.
Somebody obviously donated copious quantities of ring pull tops as there was a winning bid for my 'free lesson'. So my publisher called once again and gave me the lucky fellow's name and address - only problem was that he lived in the South East and I live in the South West and so there was the obstacle of distance to overcome. In the end, I received no reply to my email to him and so the prize was left unclaimed - maybe he needed the travel expenses to pay his dentist bills instead.
It wasn't the weirdest experience I've had as a writer, but certainly one of the more bizarre...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Going Bespoke (Part II)

Work has started on the new guitar (see blog below for more details). Here, Roger Bucknall is choosing the wood for the back and sides, by going through a few piles of 'Rio' (which used to be known as Brazilian Rosewood before it became environmentally contentious to use it for instruments and such like).


This particular Rio is quite legal and fully licensed - I mention this because I don't want Greenpeace kicking the door down in a morning raid, thinking I've breached some sort of international agreement with Brazil.
So why choose the more expensive option of Rio for the guitar's back and sides? Well, basically it was because my ears told me to. Let me explain... On a standard Fylde Falstaff  the back and sides are made from carefully selected Indian Rosewood. This particular wood is very good at its job of providing a sturdy 'box' to support the guitar's more flexible spruce soundboard and I was quite prepared to have it on mine... Until, that is, I played an instrument with Rio back and sides. 
It's difficult to describe the difference - it's a bit like banging on about wine - how a Chateau Whatever '59 differs from the more excellent '62. But it did make one heck of a change to the character of the sound - at least, to these tired old ears. The only way I can describe it is that, dynamically and tonally speaking, Indian Rosewood gave me five gears - but Rio was the equivalent of upgrading to a six gear sports box. Whatever it was doing, it made the whole guitar sing - I could feel every note I played as well as hear it and so I just had to include it in the recipe for my new instrument.
The saga continues... watch for further updates soon!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Going Bespoke

As a few people migth be aware, I'm a sort of 'born again' acoustic player these days. After years of playing with Strats, Les Pauls and sundry archtops, I've come to rest as a member of the unplugged fraternity.
I started playing acoustic guitar - my first instrument was a 3/4 size classical - and so I guess it's a case of 'coming home' in many ways.
My return to the ways of the flat top steel string was as a result of making an album a couple of years ago. To begin with, I was going to play everything on it... guitar synth, baritone, nylon string, archtop - you name it. But I was lucky enough to have Martin Taylor as my producer and he advised me to stick to acoustic so that the album had a uniformity all the way through. I took this on board as very sound advice and completed the album using a Yamaha LLX 500C.
Now, I have to say that despite spending years and years working on guitar magazines and reviewing all kinds of instrument, I had never really looked at acoustic guitars subjectively. You don't - the whole object of reviewing instruments is to remain unbiased and objective. But now, all of a sudden, I was an acoustic guitarist and that changed things for me. I became more interested in things like which woods gave me the best sound, which body shape was better for me personally and stuff like that.
I was really happy with the sound of the Yamaha, but thought that I could possibly improve things as long as I got the basic formula right - shape and materials, etc. I pondered on the whole question for a long time, visiting shops and trying 'off the peg' instruments, but nothing really floated my boat. I had narrowed things down to things like knowing I wanted a spruce top and rosewood back and sides, but most of what I found was either laminated or otherwise unsuitable. It put me in a bit of a quandry, to say the least; what's more, I was scheduled to be making album #2 early in 2009 and so getting something sorted soon became a priority.
As luck would have it, my friend Gordon Giltrap phoned me and I mentioned my dilemma to him. He offered to put me in touch with Roger Bucknall at Fylde Guitars in Penrith and, after meeting with Roger at the Cheltenham Acoustic Guitar Show and trying oodles of different models, I settled on one... This one:


This is a Fylde Falstaff. The top is Englemann Spruce and I have asked for the back and sides to be upgraded to Brazilian Rosewood (or 'Rio' as it is called these days). The neck is Honduras Mahogany and the fingerboard is ebony. All-in-all this represents a brilliant recipe for a great sounding acoustic guitar and I must say that I'm incredibly excited about receiving it.
At present, it's being built for me and I hope to be able to post some pictures of the process some time soon.
Stay posted!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Does Not Contain Plant Extract?

If the news that Les Dennis is teaming up with The Wombats for a Christmas single wasn't bad enough, it's seemingly true that Messrs Page, Paul-Jones and Bonham Junior are considering touring under the Zeppelin banner - but without Percy.
I've been lucky enough to see the mighty Zeppelin on two occasions and whilst it's definitely a good thing to get Jimmy Page back where he belongs - pounding out historic rock'n'roll on a Les Paul - surely it's not going to be the same without Plant at the helm? 
Auditions are allegedly underway to find a Plant substitute (I'm wondering how long it was before David Coverdale was on the phone!) but the world waits a-wondering if our Robert will have a last minute change of heart and lend his tonsils to the project after all. 
I, for one, want the song to remain the same...

Monday, 20 October 2008

My Life As A Porn Star

Apparently, if you ask practically any session musician, he will tell you that at one time or another he has contributed, either knowingly or unknowingly, to a porn movie soundtrack.
I'm not talking about all the heavy breathing and, 'Take me now, Mr Prendergast...' type of banter, but the drear music that (I'm told) accompanies such a cinematic event.
Now, I have to confess, that even my humble session activities have not escaped the film industry's shady back streets - but I didn't find out that my earnest guitar wranglings had been so used until years afterwards. All I knew was that the session concerned had seriously strange overtones…
At the time, I was working on and off for a studio somewhere in Britain (Essex, actually) and occasionally we were asked to provide a bit of music here and there for video or radio. It was generally nothing too spectacular - maybe 30 seconds of anonymous background music in a certain style, that's all. But this session was different; the guy who commissioned the music was extremely vague as to what the film was about, for a start. He told us that he made corporate films for various companies all over the world and this one in particular was for a hotel chain in Australia. Fair enough. They have hotels in Australia, I know, and so there was nothing too suspicious about that…
So he told us that he wanted 15 minutes (!) of music with a sort of 'Crocodile Dundee' type of vibe going on - lots of didgeridoo droning and Aboriginal drums, gradually building in tension. Tension? Must be a weird hotel chain. Oh, and then there's the fast section towards the end... Fast bit? Well, yes; apparently somewhere near the end of the 'corporate film about an Australian hotel chain' there was a car chase. Oh, really?
We asked if we could see a script - 15 minutes of shooting in the dark (sorry) without any sense of musical direction  was a bit of a tall order, after all. But we were told, no; no script. Well, could we see any footage, just to get an idea of how the music could tie in with the visuals? Again; no.
So drums, didgeridoo gradually building up to a car chase? OK. Now I sense that there is already some considerable giggling at the back because I've already told you what the music was really wanted for, but in those days, a job was a job and we just, erm, got stuck in.
We got together some samples of ethnic percussion, found a synthesiser setting which sounded a bit like a didgeridoo and set the whole thing up. I played what I can only describe as some entirely out of place guitar on the top using a blue Stratocaster (ironic, eh?) which ended up sounding a little like Dire Straits had got lost in the Australian Outback - and afterwards I drove home.
My compelling vision is the keyboard player (who was late for a prior engagement as the session had over-run) trying to get himself ready for a night out with a toothbrush lodged in his mouth whilst the music reached its inevitable climax (sorry again).
On the day, all we thought was; weird. It was a long time afterwards when it was revealed somehow that the businessman who had employed us that day had what we could call 'an arrangement' with some local ladies who fancied earning a bit of extra housekeeping.
And, before you ask, no; I haven't seen it…

Monday, 6 October 2008

BBC's 'Story Of The Guitar'

I was afraid that the BBC would take their usual highly superficial approach to this - but was pleasantly surprised when I saw they had dedicated three hours to the subject.
Last night's show was a bit long-winded on the history front, I thought. Yeah, it's fascinating that you can trace the history of the guitar back to stone carvings thousands of years old - albeit in a severely prototypical form - but does anyone really care? 
The central nub of Alan Yentob's programme is that the guitar is the most influential instrument in popular culture and that it has enjoyed a lot of controversy in the past as the electronic Messiah a whole generation of parents came to fear. There's a a lot of meat there, surely, without needing to go too far back?
Of course, I shouldn't moan because this kind of documentary only comes along once every 20 years or so and so we should probably be grateful for the attention our instrument is being given by the mainstream media. But I'm a bit tired of being thankful for the scraps thrown out to us whilst the BBC still continues to turn its back on popular music overall. I would gladly swap all three hours of this programme - fascinating though it might be - for more attention being paid to the actual players of the instrument.
Whatever happened to the 'In Concert' series? Or The Old Grey Whistle Test type of programme? Both provided valuable platforms for new artists and music, but now all we've got is dear old eclectic Jools - and if you don't like the format, my dears, that's just tough. What's more, 'Later...' is almost impossible to get on to unless you've got the machinery of major labels and PR behind you. It's definitely an industry where what you know doesn't amount to anything; it's 'who'.
Meanwhile, we have to endure virtually every Prom concert going, from good ol' bums-on-seats Beethoven to new commissions from contemporary composers who continually push the boundaries of what people can actually sit through without haemmorrhaging. 
So what about a bit of parity here, Beeb? Mainstream artists (who definitely don't need the exposure, but what the hey? You know who you are...) alongside new artists who have been judged on merit by some open minded producer who can resist the influence of the powerful and seductive opinions of a handful of hack journalists who are keen to push 'this year's new Dylan'.  
Opening things up like this would be good for music, surely? 

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Metallica Moment

Metallica are very much in the news again at present, thanks to a brand new album and tour. It got me thinking about the time I was invited backstage with the band at their 1992 Wembley show - and how the experience has definitely shortened my life by at least a few minutes...
The thing was, I was doing my journalist thing, interviewing Kirk Hammett and had agreed to turn up at the band's hotel in central London before the evening's gig. So I turned up and sat chatting with Kirk for around half an hour when a record company type poked her head around the door and said that there might be a problem with transport for the gig. Apparently there was a major rugby match on at Wembley Stadium that afternoon and the band were originally scheduled to turn up for the soundcheck around the time the match finished. Sensing traffic chaos, the record company had decided that the band should leave for the gig much earlier than planned, leaving me - and my interview - a little high and dry. 
Sensing my plight, they asked me if I would like to come along and finish my interview backstage at Wembley. I had a Fast Show moment and thought, 'Me? Turning up at Wembley with Metallica in a large black limo, with my reputation? What can they be thinking?' And agreed.
So off we went. In the end I didn't travel with the band, but still got treated to a chauffeur-driven limo... and I got to talk to Kirk for a further 30 minutes or so backstage. Job done.
Next question - would I like to stay and watch the gig? Hmmm... OK. Would I like to go into the infamous Mosh Pit? (Metallica fans will know this as possibly the most extreme courtesy a journalist can be offered by the band). Err... No, side of stage will be fine, thanks very much. My moshing days were well and truly over.
So I stood by the side of the stage, near the back and watched the band led onto the darkened platform one by one. Kirk struck up the intro riff to Enter Sandman and the crowd went wild. Great atmosphere... Hey, rock'n'roll!
But... Nobody warned me that on the first beat of the bar where the band all start playing the riff together after the intro, there would be a bloody great bang and flames would shoot 50 feet into the air - right next to where I was standing.
You imagine it - a bang loud enough to be heard over Metallica letting rip isn't going to be anything other than ear drum shattering and I was a few feet away. I think I jumped almost as high as the flames...
To give you some idea about what I experienced, there's a film on You Tube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QP-SIW6iKY that will give you the gist. The bang is about 1 min 50 sec in...
Despite the heart palpitations and serious shock, I have to say that it was possibly one of my better backstage experiences, all the same!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Cheltenham Unplugged

I went to the Acoustic Guitar Show in Cheltenham last Sunday. Now this is nothing exactly abnormal for me because, as you can probably imagine, I go to a lot of guitar shows; but this time I was a man on a mission. I'm in the market for a new acoustic guitar, you see…
Let's face it, the acoustic guitar market can be split into two distinct houses: factory made and hand made - although arguably there are subdivisions like companies whose main output is factory made but who have a hand made division or custom shop.
What's the difference? Factory made instruments tend to be cut out by a machine using some sort of computer guidance and then the various bits are assembled by a largely automated and consequently indifferent process. The woods involved are rarely top notch, either, even if they sound like they are in the brochure. If you're thinking that wood is wood, think again - there are many different grades of tonewood and it's often the norm for the cream of the crop to go to the hand builders. So it's a conveyor-belt nativity for a factory made acoustic, but seeing as this is how a lot of cars are made, it's not necessarily a bad thing overall. I've played some very satisfactory guitars that have been made in this fashion, for instance.
Hand making is altogether a different ball game, though. Here, an instrument is totally bespoke - the wood is of the highest grade and very carefully chosen, cut to size by hand, glued, braced and essentially crafted into existence with love, skill and care by a master luthier.
The difference in tone between these two manufacturing disciplines can be quite pronounced, too, hand made instruments often being louder and sweeter. Naturally, they have a price tag to match - you could bring home an acoustic in a box for under £100 if you shopped around a bit, but a custom build is going to set you back more like £2500 - and that would be the no frills option! Once you begin talking exotic or rare woods, the price starts going up even further.
At the show in Cheltenham I met up with some old friends and waved and smiled at a lot more, too. I spent a brief few seconds saying 'Hi' to Gordon Giltrap, passed the time of day with luthier Patrick Eggle (who I've known for years) but the lion's share of my day was spent talking body woods and tone with Roger Bucknall from Fylde guitars. Roger makes some excellent instruments and I've just ordered one - I'll give you the details when the build has begun, but it should be ready early in the new year, just in time for me to begin recording a new album. 
Of course, I tell everyone that getting a new guitar is pretty meaningless for me these days because, after all, they're just tools aren't they? But I have to say that I'm really excited about this one!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Hey Nonny - No!

Hmmm... It seems that I have been openly and publicly accused of being a folk musician. It's true. Some well-meaning member of the public, having bought a copy of my album Nocturnal, has decided to review it for the Amazon website and, in so doing, mentioned that it is 'a delightful instrumental UK folk album...'

This is something that would have probably wounded me deeply a few years ago because it would have conjured up visions of the heavily clichéd folkie - all fingers in ears, beards, baggy jumpers, real ale and 't'was early one morning'  and that's definitely not me, my dears. 

But have you heard any modern folk recently? I've been taking a listen and have had any illusions I may have had tested to the limit. It seems to me that the umbrella term 'world music' has now opened up to embrace the fringes of what we might call 'experimental folk' and has created a wonderfully expansive landscape for any adventurous musician looking for a place to call home. As examples of this I'll cite Eliza Carthy's new CD 'Dreams Of Breathing Under Water'  and the work Simon Emmerson is doing with his Imagined Village project, which marries up such diverse talents as Martin Carthy, Billy Bragg and Benjamin Zephaniah. Both represent an exciting, rich hybrid of diverse musical forms and are simply light years away from what you might imagine.

So I'd like to thank my accuser and say that it might just be an honour to be referred to as being a part of what appears to be a very fertile and lively musical form.


Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Gone Shopping...

I found myself in a guitar shop this afternoon for the first time in quite a while. I don't frequent such establishments as often as I used to in my youth because the whole game works a little differently for me these days. I'm in the privileged position now whereby if I'm at all curious about some item of guitar exotica, I simply phone the company who supplies it to these fair isles and they send me one to appraise in the comfort of my own hovel. Then, I generally spill red wine all over it and either buy it or send it packing with a note to the effect that it must try harder if it wants to become part of the Mead musical battery.
Now I'm very aware that this is a rare and extremely fortunate position to be in - but it wasn't until this afternoon that I realised how lucky I am to be able to audition my potential new toys in this fashion.
My mission on this particular occasion was to examine a range of acoustic guitars from one particular manufacturer (and I'm far too much the gentleman to tell you which) whose website has recently enthralled me with its promises of orgasmic tone at a very reasonable price. I didn't ring them and work my usual charm because I wanted to compare models in the raw and heck, it was a nice day and I hadn't been out in a while...
When I arrived at the shop I was extremely disappointed to find that the guitars were in a quite a poor state; very dusty and loaded with strings so old that I imagine they had enjoyed more than a passing acquaintance with Lloyd George. The environment wasn't at all attuned to peaceful strummery either. The sales assistant was busy plucking away at a mandolin behind the counter, oblivious to me and my fellow guitar enthusiasts on the premises, apparently intent on learning some folky opus at unsociable volume levels regardless of whose afternoon she might be ruining.
So it was actually quite difficult to hear anything on the shop floor - and my British reserve is such that I was far too decent and upright to ask her to shut the f*ck up and give me a chance to hear what I was doing. So I left, my impression of the guitar range rather sullied and with no intention of ever darkening the doorsteps of that particular establishment again.
I spent a fair amount of time as a young plucker visiting guitar shops far and wide and got used to the fact that when it comes to service you had to put up with both the exceptionally good and the rabidly poor with the same kind of insouciance. But this is 2008, I'm a grown-up and things haven't changed at all. Inappropriate service is still apparently rife in the marketplace and guitar buyers are still being treated will all the disrespect they certainly don't deserve.
Now, where's my phone book...

Monday, 25 August 2008

Dateline 24.08.08 - Beijing Olympics Closing Ceremony…

Jimmy Page - Yay! Whole Lotta Love - Yay! Leona Lewis - WTF?

End of transmission

Friday, 22 August 2008


Hello and welcome to the inaugural iTalk Guitar Editor's Blog. Just to introduce myself, my name is David Mead - I'm a guitarist, writer and journalist who lives in the South West of the UK. If you're at all interested in the story so far as far as I'm concerned (and I'm not going to hold it against you if you're not) then the whole sorry tale is neatly wrapped up for you on my website at http://www.davidmead.net.
I'll be using this Blog to record my various rants about sundry topics, some of them related to the guitar in general, some confined to the music industry and some totally off the wall - especially if I'm having a bad day…
I like to think of myself as a simple kinda guy (that's 'simple' as in 'uncomplicated'; I've got O Levels, y'know). In fact, you could say that my likes and dislikes run something like this:

Likes: cats, red wine, music, guitars, books, movies
Dislikes: just about everything else

So it's going to be interesting… See you soon!