In 2003 I retired from my full-time career as an English teacher in Dunoon Grammar
School here in the lovely county of Argyll. I wanted to pursue an interest far removed
from my career, and settled on learning how to construct acoustic stringed instruments
as I had a long involvement in playing music as a hobby, and particularly folk and
I attended on a part-time basis the excellent Stringed Instruments Course run at
Anniesland College in Glasgow. Here I was fortunate enough to be tutored by three
superb instrument builders, Paul Hyland, Bill Kelday and Michael Ritchie, and I have
maintained contact with those three and they continue to offer their invaluable support.
My thanks to you all, gents.
While at Anniesland I designed and built a travel guitar and this instrument gained
the Best Musical Instrument Award and Gold Medal for Best in Show at the 2005 Craftex
Exhibition run annually by the Trades House of Glasgow and open to all students on
craft and creative courses in Glasgow FE Colleges.
Since then I have continued trying to develop my skills and have concentrated mainly
on building flat-backed mandolins. The fascination in building the instruments is
in trying to achieve that blend of playability, looks and sound that defines a really
great instrument. Each instrument I construct adds something to my fund of knowledge
and the quest goes on. I have also made octave and bouzouki models, another travel
guitar and a tenor guitar - each as a means of exploring new sounds and trying new
ways of achieving a satisfactory sound from different instruments.
Although I have no desire to build full-time or commercially I have been very encouraged
by the fact that fellow players who have seen and heard the instruments have liked
them enough to want to play them and even acquire them. Click here to go to the
Instruments page, or just click on the “Instruments” button bars on any page.
I am keen to make contact with other builders and players to share ideas and discuss
instrument building and playing, so please feel free to e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Soundcloud: In March 2010, I signed up to the website SoundCloud which hosts music
from its members. I add to this regularly and all the tunes I upload are available
for you to download should you wish. The original idea was to highlight my instruments,
but this has developed into my recording and posting of tunes I like, especially
Scottish and Irish material.