February 15, 2016We have a new, Forsyth exclusive Gordon Smith to tell you about!The first in a series of collaborative projects between ourselves and the luthiers at Gordon Smith these guitars are a great example of how these lovely designs can be customised.Our first edition is a play on the custom car colours used by Fender in the 50s and 60s but, since Gordon Smith are a very British brand of guitar, we felt it appropriate to look to Britain for our custom colours. In this series you will find six classic Morris Minor finishes, the lacquer supplied by official Morris sources: Clipper Blue, Racing Green, Burgundy, Highway Yellow, Sage Green and Trafalgar Blue. We’ve also added a custom pickguard (designed by Forsyth’s very own James) in a cream plastic that perfectly matches the finish, and the elegant Gotoh bridge and chromed control knobs both help to continue the car theme.The pickup has a great Manchester pedigree, made in Chorlton by Jaime at The Creamery and designed by Jaime and New Order / Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner.We have one of each of these guitars ready to go and once those sell out we can take orders with a 12 week lead time. As these instruments have been designed by us they can only be ordered through Forsyths so if you like the look of them drop us a line! To view the individual colours just click the colours above and it will take you to the product page.
January 22, 2016
One of the nice things about working with John and Linda at the original Gordon Smith workshop in Manchester was that, being just down the road, the opportunity to drop in for a cup of tea and a nosy about what guitars were currently on the bench was always available. When the chaps at Auden took over production of Gordon Smith last year they were quick to extend the same offer and we finally made it down to Northampton to check out the new facilities.
A quick look through the workshop door and we could immediately see that several of the extremely ingenious self designed jigs and machines that John built to facilitate the build process are still being used. Aside from these jigs the guitars are very much bench made instruments with band saws, thickness and spindle sanders, hand routers and pillar drills being used for most of the build stages. It’s a little more labour intensive than letting a CNC machine do the work but it’s a relief to see that the traditional hand building techniques are still at the heart of Gordon Smith.
Although the build process is much the same as in Manchester, many of the templates used for the Manchester built guitars had worn considerably over years of use, so one project that has already been completed has been to renew the old templates, ensuring that the guitars are closer to how John originally envisaged them in terms of outline. We were impressed with the level of consistency of the builds that were in various stages of completion as we progressed through the production line.
There were 30 or so guitars in various stages of production but very few finished instruments - the new team are working at full pelt fulfilling orders and every finished guitar ships within a few days of final assembly and QC. Just being finished when we were in the shop was a beautiful double cut Graduate in a black burst finish, which we were able to try out. Our immediate feeling picking it up was one of familiarity: this guitar felt and sounded exactly as we would expect a Manchester made Gordon Smith to perform. The neck profile we were expecting to be perfect as we’d already spied John’s neck carving machine in the workshop, and we expected a good set up based on the quality of Auden guitars, Gordon Smith’s sister brand that are set up by the same people. But they have also captured the Gordon Smith sound - in particular they have a snappier bass response than the Gibson models that inspired them. We were also very impressed by the fit and finish on these new instruments: clearly the workshop are making every effort to get these new instruments perfect in terms of quality control.
There’s much more to tell: we also shot some video and spent some time working on our upcoming Morris Minor GS guitars that are nearing completion and needed some last minute spec adjustments and decision making. In the meantime though we’d like to share a quick photo guide to the new workshop:
December 1, 2015
Yes, it’s that time of year again and your son / daughter / significant other has intimated that they quite fancy having a go at learning the guitar. This is a good thing, obviously! The trouble is, the internet is full of the most bewildering range of guitars and you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, we may be able to help…
What type of guitar is best to learn on?
The first question is there are a few different overall types of guitar - electric, acoustic, classical and bass being the four main ones - and you’re going to need to pick one to start with. So which is best to start on?
For very young children, the first question really comes down to whether they can cope with metal strings, which can be tricky for a youngster. Up the the age of 8 or 9, we recommend a classical style guitar with nylon strings(technically the top three are nylon and the bottom three metal wound around silk). They’re relatively easy to hold and press the strings down on and there are a lot of small sized ones out there. For under 6s we recommend the ukulele: the chord shapes are similar but they’re physically much smaller and there are only four strings to contend with.
If the guitar is for someone older then we recommend going for the type of guitar that most interests the prospective player. There are pros and cons to the different types of guitar but ultimately the best guitar to start on is the one you most want to pick up and play. If your ten year old has been delving into his older brother’s music collection and and has his heart set on playing Smoke On The Water, there’s no point sitting him down with a classical guitar and a book of scales! Have a chat to the prospective pupil and try to gauge what sort of music they want to play.
Classical guitar is the guitar variant traditionally taught in schools, although that has changed a lot over the last couple of decades. Classicals have less string tension which makes them a little easier on the hands although they also have rather chunky necks, so for a beginner what you gain in soft strings you lose in finger stretches. Go for a classical guitar if the beginner is taking classical lessons or wants to play classical repertoire or Latin style folk.
Acoustic guitars are similar to classicals in appearance but have metal strings and are more heavily constructed to cope with the extra string tension. Acoustics are the best choice for strumming chords, blues and folk fingerpicking, and as a tool for songwriting. They’re also great in that you can pick them up and play without plugging in and they’re easy to carry round with you for the same reason.
Electric guitars and basses are a little more complicated in that they really need to be plugged into an amplification, which makes up a big part of the sound, so there’s a little more kit involved and you’re tied to using that equipment when you want to practice. That said, for many playing a loud electric guitar is the raisin d’etre for many guitarists. If you want to play rock guitar then electric is the way to go. Basses are a little more specialised and generally if someone wants to play bass they will ask specifically for one.
Ok, I know what type of guitar they want. But there are so many models and so many price points!
This is true, but the good news if you’re buying for a beginner is that choosing a first instrument need not be too much of a minefield. You essentially want an instrument that is not specialised (ie can play a range of different types of music) and is of sufficient quality not to impede their progress in the first stages of learning.
As it’s a first instrument, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune and nor should you have to. That said, when you pick up a guitar for the first time you’re trying to toughen up your fingertips and train your hand to do unfamiliar things and it doesn’t help if the instrument is creating problems that make it harder than it need be. We make a point of avoiding the most basic instruments - although we could sell a lot of them - because we want you to have an instrument that is going to be pleasurable to learn on and give the beginner the best chance possible. Spending between £100 and £200 (depending on type) gets you an instrument that will be good to learn on and last a long time.
Acoustic instruments can be made from a number of materials but the important detail at this level is whether they are made from sheets of solid wood or from plywood. Solid timber produces a better tone for various reasons, whilst plywood is cheaper and easier to work with. The bodies of most entry level guitars are made from plywood but you might want to consider a guitar with a solid wood top, which will cost a little more but sound much better.
So what do you recommend?
For classical guitar, we recommend the Admira Alba, which retails at £99 with a bag, for absolute beginners. These are Chinese made guitars but made to the high standard of the company’s Spanish instruments and they have a relatively strong, sweet sound. More importantly the playability and tuning stability are excellent which gives the beginner a huge advantage over the many slightly cheaper instruments that are commonly sold online. If you wanted something with a better sound we recommend Strunal, a Czech company who make a beautiful entry level classical with a solid Cedar top and laminated Oak back and sides for £199. The solid top helps a lot in terms of sound quality and they look lovely as well.
For steel string acoustics, our favourites are the Crafter range of guitars which start at £189 and have solid tops. These are made in Korea by a very experienced company whose quality control is great and they play and sound remarkably well, holding their own against substantially more expensive instruments. The slightly smaller T/CD is the most popular model and they also do a traditional large body model called the D/SP, and a significantly smaller model called theLite Cast that is ideal for smaller hands (adult or junior - one of our instrument dept staff has bought one of these and she’s in her 30s!). On a tighter budget we do a range of Aria guitars that are made entirely from laminated materials but that are still comfortable guitars to play. Again the biggest selling one is the slightly smaller AF20, with a larger AD18 also available and a 3/4 size for youngsters which will suit 8-10 year olds.
For electrics the easiest way to approach it is to buy a ready made pack that includes everything needed to get started. Fender, one of the best known manufacturers, make just such a pack that includes a Squier branded version of their best selling Stratocaster, a small amp and all the additional bits and pieces. It’s a well made guitar and the amp is perfectly reasonable for a beginner. If the guitar is for a young player they also offer a 3/4 size version of the same guitar aimed at 8-10 year olds - it doesn’t come in a pack but we can put the elements of the pack together for you.
It’s that simple then?
It pretty much is, yes. There is obviously a huge range of instruments out there but much of that comes further down the line - for now you’re trying to give someone a good start and to that ends it’s not too difficult to pick something that will do the job admirably. So good luck!
Strunal classical guitar, Squier electric guitar and Crafter acoustic:
November 6, 2015
This Tele is in for a nice upgrade: we’re installing a set of Bare Knuckle pickups. If this post inspires you to follow suit, we carry a good selection of Bare Knuckle and Tonerider pickups and our guitar tech Glen is always happy to advise on pickup selection and general wiring advice - so if you want to treat your favourite guitar to an upgrade just call in or email and we’ll be happy to help.
Anyway, let’s follow the process…
August 1, 2015
The first big delivery of the week was from Danelectro - we’ve had the new NOS DC-59s for a while and they’ve put our mind to rest that the new Korean factory has sorted out the quality control issues that put us off the Chinese versions. New to Forsyths is the DC-59 12 string, the DC-67 Heaven, and the ‘56 Convertible which builds on the promise of the original by adding a piezo pickup. Online here
We also got to see a couple of the new models from Vox this week: an AC-10 valve amp and the new VX practice amps. The AC-10 gets a big thumbs up, capturing the sound of the larger amps very effectively in a smaller, more portable package. The reverb is digital although you’d be hard pushed to tell, and it has a surprising amount of headroom for such a small amplifier. Online here
We’re big fans of Auden guitars and were pleased to snag the very same Colton 12 string that featues in this month’s Acoustic Magazine. As we’d expected it sounds fantastic. We also have a matching Baritone. Online here and here
Martin have been expanding their Road series models and we just received the new Performing Artist body style version. These are Mexican made like the popular X series but use all solid woods rather than the HPL of the X series, and they still come in at under the £1000 mark so they’re great value if you want the classic Martin sound on a tight budget. Online here
Lastly for guitars this week Faith have added to the Naked series with a dark Cherry Sunburst Neptune - great for those who find the regular Nakeds a little too austere in appearance. It’s a limited run at the moment but we suspect these will find their way into the standard models. Online here.
We’ve just taken delivery of our first batch of Bare Knuckle pickups - we’ll be posting more on these soon as they deserve their own entry and product page, but in the meantime we can help you with any pickup enquiries by email ([email protected]) or by phone (0161 834 3281 ext 606).
More next week!
December 27, 2014
First wave of 2015 January Sale items for the instrument department currently being updated on the website - we’ve listed them all below as well for a quick overview. There’s more to come so keep looking out for tweets and Facebook notifications over the next couple of weeks! Remember you can phone us (0161 834 3281 ext 606) anytime if you have any questions or if a special deal on an item you are interested in hasn’t gone live yet on the website: we’re open 9-5.30 weekdays, 11-5 Sundays, closed New Year’s Day.
(Item Make & Model RRP Sale)
Acoustic Guitar Guild F-40 ATB inc. Case £2,808 £1799
Acoustic Guitar Guild D-50 ATB inc. Case £2,100 £1675
Acoustic Guitar Guild Orpheum Jumbo inc. Case £3,276 £2279
Acoustic Guitar Levinson LJ-24 £727 £590
Acoustic Guitar Levinson LG-24B £689 £598
Acoustic Guitar Martin 0-28V Second Hand inc. Case £2,500 £2250
Acoustic Guitar Martin 000-28 Eric Clapton Natural inc. Case £2,999 £2599
Acoustic Guitar Martin 000-28 Eric Clapton Sunburst £3,218 £2699
Acoustic Guitar Martin 000-18 Inc. case £1,979 £1645
Acoustic Guitar Martin 000-17SM Inc. Case £1,899 £1375
Acoustic Guitar Atkin Maple Jumbo Inc. Case £2,695 £1900
Acoustic Guitar Atkin Dust Bowl Inc. Case £1,850 £1450
Acoustic Guitar Atkin Retro HD28 Inc. Case £2,534 £2025
Acoustic Guitar Moon 000-2E Second Hand £1,349 £1245
Acoustic Guitar Lowden 0-25 Inc. Case (small mark on front) £2,799 £2399
Acoustic Guitar Patrick James Eggle Seluda Custom Inc. Case £3,150 £2475
Acoustic Guitar Furch G-Limited 2014 Inc. Case £2,049 £1575
Acoustic Guitar Furch OM-24SR Inc. Case £1,999 £1525
Acoustic Guitar Seagull Excursion SG £299 £245
Acoustic Guitar Seagull Spruce Grand £299 £255
Acoustic Guitar Seagull Walnut Mini Jumbo £432 £339
Acoustic Guitar Seagull Maritine Mini Jumbo £825 £579
Acoustic Guitar Seagull Maritine SWS Hi Gloss £799 £589
Acoustic Guitar Simon & Patrick CWGT £840 £645
Acoustic Guitar Stonebridge DS40C Left Handed Second Hand £499 £395
Acoustic Guitar Stonebridge DS40 Left Handed £699 £499
Acoustic Guitar Aria 515 All Solid £549 £429
Acoustic Guitar Vintage Viator travel guitar £229 £195
Acoustic bass Breedlove Passport Plus B350/CB4 £750 £575
Classical Guitar Ramirez 2E (new but old date on label) £1,750 £1435
Classical Guitar Ramirez SP (new but old date on label) £4,750 £3495
Classical Guitar Burguet 1A (lacquer crazing on back) £2,850 £1995
Classical Guitar J Machin Second Hand £995 £725
Classical Guitar Asturias Standard inc. hard case (slightly marked) £1,980 £1650
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 330/12 Ruby inc. hard case £2,400 £1825
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 330 Walnut inc. hard case £1,999 £1449
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 330 MG Left Handed inc. hard case £2,399 £1845
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 360 Walnut inc. hard case £2,499 £1849
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 360 Ruby inc. hard case £2,499 £1849
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 360 Midnight Blue inc. hard case £2,499 £1849
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 370/12 Midnight Blue inc. hard case £3,099 £2150
Electric Guitar Rickenbacker 650 Colorado Ruby inc. hard case £1,849 £1349
Electric Guitar Gordon Smith GS2 Deluxe (chip in lacquer) £719 £615
Electric Guitar Italia Maranello Speedster II £529 £389
Electric Guitar Hofner Verythin Standard £599 £465
Electric Guitar Hofner Verythin Standard Ltd with 3 pickups £599 £465
Electric Guitar FenderOffset Special (small mark on back) £802 £625
Electric Guitar Fender American Standard Rustic Ash Telecaster £1,474 £995
Electric Guitar Fender 54 Reissue made in Japan £1,159 £935
Electric Guitar Fender 72 Tele Custom American Vintage £1,978 £1450
Electric Guitar Gretsch G6136T White Falcon inc. hard case £2,989 £2575
Electric Guitar Gretsch G6196T Country Club inc. hard case £2,860 £2385
Electric Guitar Gretsch G5622T Red £965 £750
Electric Guitar Gretsch G5620T Green £917 £725
Electric Guitar Gretsch G5123B Bass inc. case £1,299 £945
Bass Guitar Italia Mondial Bass £579 £399
Digital piano Roland HP504 (display model only) £1,529 £1199
Digital piano Roland HP506 (display model only) £1,939 £1499
Digital piano Yamaha N-1 (display model only) £5,696 £4899
Digital piano Yamaha CLP565GPW White Baby Grand £3,792 £3400
Digital piano Kawai KDP90 £799 £730
Digital piano Yamaha P105 £558 £480
Digital piano Kawai CS10 £3,549 £3125
Digital piano Kawai CA95 £2,900 £2495
Ukulele Tenor Electric Godin Multiuke inc bag £895 £699
Ukulele Soprano Uluru Nehe I inc bag £469 £399
Ukulele Concert Uluru Nehe II inc bag £549 £469
Ukulele Soprano Magic Fluke Company Flea soprano bubblegum £199 £169
Ukulele Soprano Magic Fluke Company Flea soprano ukalyptus £259 £224
Ukulele Concert Iberica CWN walnut £149 £119
Ukulele Soprano Martin SO £389 £319
Ukulele Soprano aNueNue Steven Sproat inc bag £375 £299
Ukulele Tenor aNueNue Manako III mango inc. Bag £585 £499
Ukulele Soprano Lani LS300KDXG inc. Bag £399 £299
Ukulele Soprano Weazel Wharf Ovangkol gloss finish inc. bag £550 £399
All prices are for available stock only so when they’re gone, they’re gone.
November 18, 2014
We have a lovely new arrival in the guitar department in the shape of a new Crafter Guitars UK model, the Lite Cast. Smaller than a full size guitar yet not quite in the travel or 3/4 category, the 23″ scale pulls off a rare trick of being ideal for small hands yet not cramped or uncomfortable for adults , so it’s a great guitar for teenagers who find full size guitars a bit of a handful but don’t want to waste money on something that they will grow out of - and we’re expecting plenty of adults to be won over by it.
The body is styled on a 000 size but smaller with an arched back to aid projection and volume, and it comes in a choice of Spruce and Mahogany tops (both solid), both of which we’ve tried and liked, although there’s surprisingly little difference between the two. Tonally it’s a real surprise, very full and lively, and easily the equal of guitars significantly more expensive irrespective of its small size. It’s a really fun little thing to pick up, and even with a wall full of high end acoustics right next to us we’ve found ourselves picking up the Crafter for behind the counter strumming.
We’ve always loved the Crafter brand for their consistantly high build quality and good value for money but this is a particular diamond. We have the Spruce and Mahogany versions in stock now - please do come in and try them.
May 28, 2014
Adding a pickup to amplify an acoustic guitar is one of the most popular mods carried out in our repair shop, but with so many alternative methods of amplifying your guitar picking the right system can seem like a daunting decision. So, here’s a quick overview as to what is out there and what system will work best given the environment that you are playing in.
Microphones offer the best way to capture the sound of an acoustic instrument, but they’re fraught with difficulties in a live context. For a solo performer playing in an environment where they are not moving about and not much amplification is needed, a good quality condenser may work well – but if you need more than a slight lift in volume a good sound engineer familiar with your set up is definitely recommended, so it’s not the ideal set up for most players. It works best in contexts such as demonstrations of vintage guitars, where attention to detail is paramount – in most contexts it’s the player that people turn up to hear, not the instrument, so a degree of compromise in the interests of practicality is generally accepted to be the best way forward. Dynamic mics are less feedback prone but need to be close to the instrument and are unlikely to work as well as a condenser, and an SM58 in front of the soundhole is generally the last resort rather than a popular option!
Internal mics are a lot less feedback prone but the sound inside your guitar is actually very different to what you hear from a player’s perspective, and the sound from an internal mic is generally rather cluttered without a great deal of clarity.
Where internal mics work well is when combined with an undersaddle transducer, where they can warm up the sound and add some character – the Fishman Ellipse Blend is a good example of a system like this, and our favourite pickup, the L. R. Baggs Anthem, is similar.
Transducers fall into three categories and are the most common type of pickup found on an acoustic guitar
Stick-on transducers are generally seen as the budget option for amplifying on the fly – a simple ‘bug’ pickup that can be attached to the top of the guitar and works by picking up the vibration of the top and converting it to a signal the amplifier or PA can understand. The bug pickups such as the Shadow 711 and Bizzy Bee transducers are cheap, easy to fit, and easy to transfer from one instrument to another. They can potentially sound remarkably good given their price. The down side is they can often sound rather boomy and indistinct depending on placement, and they’re very feedback prone so not well suited to playing with bands or on large stages. They also invariably benefit from an external preamp put between the pickup and PA, which adds to the cost.
An alternative to the external bug is a transducer mounted internally, usually onto the bridge plate. These internal versions offer a much more balanced tone than the external versions, and have a very pleasant quality which gives a good impression of the sound of the individual guitar – so they’re a little less generic sounding than the alternatives. Feedback is still an issue although less so than with the external type, and some models such as the L. R. Baggs I-Beam have a preamp built in. We recommend this system to anyone playing solo acoustic with good quality amplification or high spec Pas.
The most common type of pickup mounted into guitars designed as electro-acoustics is also a type of transducer, but in the form of a ceramic strip that sits underneath the saddle of the guitar. These are the pickups most commonly referred to as piezo pickups. This system works extremely well, being resistant to feedback and relatively easy to achieve high volume levels, so for general gigging purposes and particularly playing in a band they’re a good choice. A good quality undersaddle pickup with a fixed EQ preamp is generally a fairly cheap way to get a professional sound from your acoustic, with pickups such as the Steve Head coming in at under the £100 mark. The downside of this style of piezo is that it’s a cruder way of capturing the sound of an acoustic with a tendency to sound harsh with a slightly thin papery quality to the bass – but many consider this an acceptable compromise given the practical advantages of the system.
These pickups are similar in design to those found on electric guitars and generally clip across the soundhole of the guitar, although there are some such as the Shadow Nanomag that sit on the end of the fingerboard and are somewhat more discreet. Many of the magnetic pickups can be fitted and removed in a matter of minutes, so like the bug transducers are useful if you might want to use them on more than one guitar. The professional versions such as the L. R. Baggs M-1 or the Fishman Rare Earth can be permanently fitted with a jack socket replacing the end pin, and one version – the Fishman Neo-Buster – even doubles as a handy feedback buster. Although the sound of these pickups can be rather generic without a great deal of the character of your specific guitar, many people prefer the mellower tone and richer bass of a pro level magnetic to that of an undersaddle pickup, and they share the same resistance to feedback as undersaddle pickups.
Be aware with soundhole pickups – not all guitars have the same sized soundhole, and particularly if you have a parlour style guitar it’s worth checking the diameter before taking the plunge. For reference, a standard modern Martin soundhole diameter is 95mm so if you’re in that ballpark you’re probably OK. Magnetic pickups also do not work on classical guitars as there’s no metal in the strings to interact with the pickup.
Some of the pickups mentioned are an easy fit regardless of technical ability – if you can work out how to use bluetack you should be able to fit a bug transducer – but many require professional fitting to avoid damaging the instrument and to get the best out of the pickup. Fitting of an undersaddle pickup involves enlarging the end pin socket to install the jack, drilling a hole to pass the cable for the pickup through into the guitar, refitting the saddle to compensate for the height of the pickup element, and seating the pickup and saddle properly so that the tone is even and balanced. Having an undersaddle transducer fitted in our workshop costs £40, and we can usually turn it around in less than a week.
So, to decide on your pickup, you need to have an idea as to what sort of gigs you’re likely to be playing, and what your budget is – with that information it’s a fairly easy decision. If you want to hear the different types, L. R. Baggs have kindly provided us with a guitar equiped with their M-1 magnetic, Anthem bridgeplate transducer and Element undersaddle transducer, so you can hear for yourself how they sound. So there you go – no excuses not to get that guitar plugged in and gigged!
For first hand advice please feel free to phone us on 0161 834 3281 ext 606 – Glen is our onsite guitar repair technician, and there is James, Mike and Chris on the guitar staff who are all well versed in pickup info.
June 17, 2013
Patrick James Eggle personally came into the store on Thursday to bring us three new fantastic guitars. An Etowah Custom Celtic, a Parlour made from CITES certified 150 year old Cuban mahogany and a beautiful Rosewood Parlour. We are always happy to see Patrick and to see the delights he has brought us. Check ‘em out!
June 4, 2013
We’ve just received two beautiful guitars from the Atkins workshop - fantastic quality British guitars. We’ll be taking pictures of the guitars and putting them up on our website as soon as possible but thought we’d let you know they’re here so you can pop in and try them for yourselves…and buy them before anyone else does!
OM AM Special
The ‘All Mahogany Special’ features mahogany top, back side and binding. An orchestral size model that is ideal for a finger picking style. Only £2,100 including a hard case.
AA Rosewood Series
This ‘auditorium size’ guitar blends a Stika sprice top with Indian rosewood back and sides to produce a classic tone. Yours including a hard case for £2,375
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