10 String Fan Fret Mandolin

7th July 2019Mandolins

This was quite an interesting build for me, a multi-scale 10 string mandolin. Tuned from a bottom C through standard mandolin up to top E. The longer scale on the bass side allows for extra tension on the C string. Extra tension eliminates some of the sloppy tenancies of using thicker strings to tune down to C.


Proving to be a head scratcher to start with, but eventually coming round to it. The 12th fret/ body join is the only fret which could be considered truly straight to a standard fingerboard.

Slightly larger than a standard mandolin, with this body you get the extra depth to really use those lower tones. Remarkably the multi-scale doesn’t take much getting used to, once played for 5 minutes your hand rapidly become accustom to it.

As always with these larger instruments I make hand-cut solid brass tailpieces. Anchoring the strings to the tailblock this way really helps get the full tonal potential out of your instrument.

Whyte Laydie 17 fret Tenor banjo

11th May 2018Banjos
ebony, silver, dot markers
I always love an opportunity to get more involved in banjos. This whyte laydie 17 fret open back tenor was no exception. Built to the same spec as my own much beloved banjo, but with the addition of the whyte laydie. Rather than the archtop tone ring that I have in my own, this has a much warmer tone – maybe a little less aggressive also. Great for melodic playing and melody players who like to get involved in chords as well.

Davey Tenor Banjo headstock

I really like an excuse to use these dot markers. Tahitian black pearl set into sterling silver, on this ebony fingerboard, really stand out. Little touches make all the difference to an instrument when it all comes together.

Irish tenor banjo

This banjo was built with a three part maple/wenge/maple neck. It gives it a lot of stability but also some really nice clean cut lines. This birdseye maple is, and was, notoriously difficult to carve. But the results in the end were well worth it.

open back tenor banjo

Open back tenor banjo

Lacewood Cittern

6th May 2018CBOM
Lacewood cittern, with ebony and sterling silver rosette.

Not quite the bank holiday weekend off, but it has meant I’ve had time to catch up on the website. I had a lot of fun building this lacewood 10 string Cittern, set up in open G. It’s not a wood that I’ve used frequently for Citterns, but I’m really pleased with the results. In sound, it has something akin to mahogany, as well as a little maple there as well. Either way, it has a really eye catching figuring.

This build had a bit of a silver theme: with an ebony and sterling silver rosette, with a handmade nickel-plated tail piece (it’s a pet peeve of mine when tailpieces don’t match other hardware).

To help deal with the tension of 10 strings, the Cittern has carbon fibre neck reinforcements  and double-walled sides to give it a little extra punch.

Archtop Walnut Mandolin

15th October 2017Mandolins

I’m really pleased to have finished this arch-top mandolin. With a carved spruce top, three piece English walnut back and¬†cantilevered fingerboard, it represents the first arch-top made to the same size and specs as my flat-tops. The flat back and carve top combination follows in the footsteps of some of my favourite British luthiers and the growing celtic mandolin tradition.

It is the prettiest new mandolin photographed in the grubbiest corner of my workshop – there are grand plans to reconcile this very soon!

Carved top mandolin, handmade in Cornwall.


Vintage Moreno Archtop Guitar Restoration

15th October 2017Repairs
Moreno Archtop Guitar
Vintage Moreno guitar in need of restoration

I really enjoy the opportunity to get my teeth into a restoration project, and when this beautiful old arch-top Moreno guitar came up, I jumped at chance to take it to bits.

The back had a bad split, the neck was hanging off and underneath all the skin cheese on the fingerboard, it was in desperate need of a re-fret.

One of the nicer things about working on older instruments like this is that, sometimes rather than invasive work and power tools, all they really need is a little encouragement!

Neck set hide glue

With that much play in the neck, all it took was a small amount of heat to get things moving in the right direction.

Moreno guitar before polish

Its only really once you get an instrument back to its fundamental parts that you can really asses how much work will need to be done. Thankfully, apart from the originally spotted problems, this was one solid beast.

Freshly polished archtop guitar

With decades of dust carefully removed, it was starting to look really promising. While the road-worn look has a certain charm to it, it is always really satisfying when you can get these old gents back to their original glory.

Unfortunately, at this point I got far too carried away with my work to remember to take any more photos. Having taken the fingerboard off to shoot the neck and discovering a beautiful piece of ebony lurking under all that crud and dust.

Once it was finished off with a nice replacement set of replica Golden-age machine heads and some lovely rich sounding flat-wound strings, it didn’t stay in the workshop long. It was quickly snapped up by a local guitar dealer, who had been after it since its arrival.

Moreno Archtop Guitar



English Cherry Mandolin

11th October 2017Mandolins


Cherry is one of my favourite woods to work with, particularly for choice of back and sides materials for mandolins. Whilst I firmly believe the design of the structure is foremost in creating any instruments voice, I like to think the choice of wood colours it. Cherry allows for nice crisp highs with a warmth you don’t get with a more traditional maple mandolin.