Cittern

Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member
edited August 2016 in Personal Diaries
Hi all, and thanks for all the welcomes.  I feel all warm and cosy here already. Sooo, what to talk about?  OK, I own four guitars, an amp, and a Cittern.  So to go completely off subject in a guitar forum I'll talk about my Cittern. Here it is in it's current state:   I know it's not a guitar, but would anyone be remotely interested in the back story and how this repair process progresses given it would be generally applicable to an acoustic guitar as well (I don't fancy smashing one of my guitars just to make this post relevant)? Cheers, Reg.

Comments

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,101Member

    I think I certainly would be at least remotely interested in that, yes Reg! image

  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member

    I'm in!

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    OK, over the next week or so I'll catch up to how it got here and then provide a running commentary (that's likely to be intermittent as life butts in).

     

    On a completely separate subject my fave band is Oysterband, and it's scary to know I've been watching them at live gigs for 33 years!  Anyway, they've just embarked on a nationwide tour (we'll be heading out to see them over the weekend) to promote their latest, in a long line, of albums (got to #51 in last weeks album chart).

     

    Alan Prosser, the guitarist usually does a tour blog on their Facebook page and this tour is no exception.  I mention this as as in his Tour Blog #1 he provides some fascinating insights on venues, live sound, and here talks about issues with some sort of venue generated resident frequency throwing vocal harmony intros off key before the instruments kick in:

     

    https://www.facebook.com/pages...band/124838504248510

     

    Scroll down to "Alan's Tour Blog #1.

     

    BTW - I can't find how to properly insert links.  Can somebody provide me a pointer?

     

    Cheers,  Reg.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,999Member, Moderator

    To insert a link, copy link, as you obviously do, the highlight the wording you want to use as the link, then hit the link button.

     

    Inserting a link

     

    After that it is just a case of pasting the link into Link URL on the window which opens.

     

     

    Link URL

     

     

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Many thanks Jocko.  Let give me give that a try.

     

    I read with interest dharma's blog about his prrrrecioussss.  Here's my Gibson Firebrand 335-S Standard:

     

     

     

    IMG_1220

    IMG_1224

    IMG_1229

    IMG_1228

    I think there are more similarities with dharma's The Paul than there are differences.

     

    Like dharma, this is the most comfortable neck I've ever played, by a long, long way.

     

    This was a complete impulse buy in I think around 1984 at which time it would have been about four years old.  When I say impulse I mean of brain power available 0% logic was engaged versus 100% emotion.  Didn't need a new guitar, wasn't looking for a new guitar, couldn't afford a new guitar.

     

    I passed a guitar shop, wasn't even thinking about going in as I was on my way to meet a mate in a pub.  I just happened to glance in the window and, kerpow, ten minutes later I owned this (oh, the dangerous power of a credit card)!  I also owned an American Strat at the time that I don't think I ever played again, which got sold when we moved overseas a few years later.

     

    If you want to know what it sounds like have a quick squizz at this guy playing better than I could ever even dream about:

     

    Jesus Prieto

     

    The "335-S" moniker was reference to this being a "S"olid version of the 335, although whilst the generic shape is the same the dimensions are smaller.  Gibson would have to provide a free neck brace with every guitar if it was the same size!

     

    I believe dharma's slightly earlier "The Paul" was a predecessor to the Firebrand series.  In the late 70's early 80's Gibson were looking to complement (screw?) their existing dealership network by producing a range of differentiated "cut down" no frills guitars that could be sold by "lower rent" (my description, not theirs) guitar shops.  However that strategy failed as apparently the concept of a "no frills" guitar didn't appeal to the more snobbish elements of Gibson aficionados.  Therefore not that many were produced and production lasted barely a couple of years.  So of course, these are now highly sought after by those same aficionados who finally realise these are actually great guitars (don't forget dharma was in tears after getting his - sorry for mentioning that again!)

     

    Here's a breakdown of the range - mine is the most basic of the no frills Gibbys, and in my completely and totally biased opinion, all the better for it.

     

     

    ES-335-S Brochure

    There was a re-release of the 335-S several (or more) years ago that I don't believe lasted long as apparently they where nowhere near as good as these originals, including Gibson's attempt to revive the Dirty Fingers pickups, which they made too hot and sounded pretty awful (my opinion!).

     

    Somewhere I've got the exact build date of mine (it's a fairly early one in I think May 1980) and I'll add it if I can find it.

     

    Cheers, Reg.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,999Member, Moderator

    Now I know what influenced my Gordon-Smith Gypsy II.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Pete Seeger/Festival Community Singing

     

     

    I just came across this blog entry from Ray Cooper (ex bassist/cellist of the Oysterband - looking significantly more youthful in the 1989 video I posted yesterday in Megi's obscure artists thread)

     

    Worth a listen through to the second half of the piece where the audience kick in.

     

    Ray Cooper Blog

     

    Enjoy,  Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,101Member
    Originally Posted by Reg Sox:

    Pete Seeger/Festival Community Singing

     

     

    I just came across this blog entry from Ray Cooper (ex bassist/cellist of the Oysterband - looking significantly more youthful in the 1989 video I posted yesterday in Megi's obscure artists thread)

     

    Worth a listen through to the second half of the piece where the audience kick in.

     

    Ray Cooper Blog

     

    Enjoy,  Reg.

    Cheers for that link Reg! image

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    While I'm on the subject of Seegers, here's a little known fact (or perhaps it's not).  The multi-time, multi-artist, multi-national hit "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" was written for Peggy Seeger (Pete's sister) by British folkie Ewan MacColl (while he was still married to someone else).  The song was also known as "Ewan's Retirement Fund"

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,101Member

    That is indeed a fact I didn't know! It's a lovely song for sure, Ewan must have been a bit taken with the lady!

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    I have a recording of Peggy singing it just accompanying herself on, wait for it, banjo!  Sounds like a weird instrument for that song but the recording is totally raw sounding is an absolutely good way.  I still think it's the best version I've ever heard of the song - perhaps it's the raw emotion of having been written for her.  I once heard her doing this arrangement live in the intimate, unamplified, setting of a folk club and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

     

    While I'm on facts.  Kirsty MacColl (Fairy Tale of New York, There's a Boy Works Down the Chipshop etc.) was Ewan's daughter.  Her drummer on her earlier stuff was Lee Partis, later brought into Oysterband by his old mate Ray Cooper (aka Chopper), which is where this little journey started.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,101Member

    I always liked Kirsty MacColl, and aware she was Ewan's daughter - though I must admit to being not well aware of folk music generally. A nice "round-trip" musical story you've told there though, cheers, and I will look into some of the music with at least a bit more insight perhaps! image

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Some wonderful guitarists on the scene.  Of course in addition to Martin Simpson mentioned in this forum several times recently, most people have heard of Martin Carthy and Nic Jones.  But there's a wealth of talent I couldn't even begin to list here that have come up through the folk clubs.  If you've not heard them seek out Blair Dunlop (son of doyen Ashley Hutchings), Greg Russell (both unfeasibly young), and Eddie Walker (if you're into country picking - although I think he's largely retired now).  Then there's some brilliant songwriters who's stuff never really gets into the mainstream like Jez Lowe (one of my particular favourites),Harvey Andrews (again retired) and Chris Wood. I bet the vast majority of people have never heard of "Show of Hands", but they've sold out the Albert Hall four times in the past (actually I'm putting Steve Knightley on in my local Village hall in a couple of weeks).  I could bang on for ages......

     

    Cheers, Reg.

  • The23rdmanThe23rdman Posts: 1,560Member
    Originally Posted by Reg Sox:

    Some wonderful guitarists on the scene.  Of course in addition to Martin Simpson mentioned in this forum several times recently, most people have heard of Martin Carthy and Nic Jones.  But there's a wealth of talent I couldn't even begin to list here that have come up through the folk clubs.  If you've not heard them seek out Blair Dunlop (son of doyen Ashley Hutchings), Greg Russell (both unfeasibly young), and Eddie Walker (if you're into country picking - although I think he's largely retired now).  Then there's some brilliant songwriters who's stuff never really gets into the mainstream like Jez Lowe (one of my particular favourites),Harvey Andrews (again retired) and Chris Wood. I bet the vast majority of people have never heard of "Show of Hands", but they've sold out the Albert Hall four times in the past (actually I'm putting Steve Knightley on in my local Village hall in a couple of weeks).  I could bang on for ages......

     

    Cheers, Reg.

    And if anyone gets the chance to see Steve Tilston play snap it up.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Absolutely - Steve must have written half of Fairport Convention's non-traditional back catalogue, with Ralph McTell writing the other half!

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,101Member
    Originally Posted by Reg Sox:

    Some wonderful guitarists on the scene.  Of course in addition to Martin Simpson mentioned in this forum several times recently, most people have heard of Martin Carthy and Nic Jones.  But there's a wealth of talent I couldn't even begin to list here that have come up through the folk clubs.  If you've not heard them seek out Blair Dunlop (son of doyen Ashley Hutchings), Greg Russell (both unfeasibly young), and Eddie Walker (if you're into country picking - although I think he's largely retired now).  Then there's some brilliant songwriters who's stuff never really gets into the mainstream like Jez Lowe (one of my particular favourites),Harvey Andrews (again retired) and Chris Wood. I bet the vast majority of people have never heard of "Show of Hands", but they've sold out the Albert Hall four times in the past (actually I'm putting Steve Knightley on in my local Village hall in a couple of weeks).  I could bang on for ages......

     

    Cheers, Reg.

    Thank you for the list of names to investigate Reg. I have of course come across Martin Carthy - went to a gig of his once in fact, though probably that was just over 30 years ago! And despite not being a folky, I have long been an admirer of Martin Simpson - my cousin took me to one of his gigs shortly after I'd started playing the guitar, again about 30-something years ago. And I've gone to a few of his gigs in the intervening decades - the last time was (IIRC) in December 2012 in Lincoln - on which occasion I was perhaps even more impressed than ever - he seems to have a deep maturity about his music now, just has so much depth. I am a fan anyhow, shall we say!

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    After the recent thread and discussion on DADGAD and other open tunings started by Mark P, the last couple of nights I've been messing around with the DADF#AD tuning that Bry suggested.  Although having played in DADGAD for decades I'd never tried that variation.  Some very pleasing noises emerging with slightly less avoidance of playing unison on the 2nd and 3rd strings required.  I'll play around for another a week and see if my long affection for DADGAD starts to weaken.

     

    Cheers, Reg.

  • dharma66dharma66 Posts: 829Member

    Wow Reg! I've only just spotted this thread! (Great thread title, by the way.)

     

    I am absolutely enamoured with your 335-S!

     

    One of these appeared a good while back on the My Les Paul forum, and everyone was in a lather about whether it was a one-off factory build for a customer, or an after market modification by an owner.

     

    Consensus was that the workmanship was so good, it must have been an original Gibson  custom built jobbie. Nobody, not even the real hardcore Norlin experts identified it as a 335-S, so I'm really excited to discover their existence!

     

    It looks EXACTLY like a The Paul, but with a groovy shape. The Paul was in production from '78 to '82, and in '82 was rebranded as the Firebrand, and ran then, I think to '84, with the 'Deluxe' in mahogany, rather than the usual as mine is) walnut. I see yours is solid maple, neck and body! It must have a good heft about it - unless it has a body and cap with some weight relief? That's not necessary with walnut, as its not heavy, and the body in The Paul is just a few walnut offcuts glued together image

     

    The maple doesn't seem to make it sound much brighter than mine in that clip (Jesus has let himself go bit, hasn't he?). That's interesting, because walnut and maple are supposed to be pretty much at the opposite ends of the warmth/brightness spectrum!

     

    If your guitar plays anything like mine - and it certainly looks near identical in every respect except the outline, then I don't doubt you have a gem. I think yours is the nicest in the range, but then maybe that's because it looks a lot like my guitar, and I'm just teeny bit biased image

     

    The pickups...The zebras are clearly original - and I love the look of zebras...are they T-tops but with a white bobbin?

     

    Only trouble is now, of course, I have another ebay saved search to setup...

     

    Sorry I haven't read the rest of the thread yet, so the conversation probably moved on from this guitar, but I was just too excited and had to reply right away image

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member
    Originally Posted by Reg Sox:

    Hi Dharma. 

     

    Glad you liked it!  Seeing your The Paul is what actually prompted me to stop lurking and join up so I could share my 335-S.  So it's all your fault

     

    Don't think they are T Tops, but you know what, I've never looked to check.  Little jobbie for this evening.

     

    With regards to weight, yes it's a lump.  But it's so well balanced I've never really noticed the weight as it hangs just right.  My strap button is on the back rather than the upper horn.  I also tend to have the guitar reasonably high on my body rather than hanging round my knees which probably helps.  It's all solid, not chambered.

     

    It's also all original apart from the fact it only had two screws for the control cover so I replaced them all.  The other, what I think is non-original area is possibly the tuner buttons.  All pictures I've seen seem to indicate that as supplied the tuner buttons would have been that greeny translucent plastic (there's probably a proper name for that).  However, mine are chrome or nickel (whatever the tuners are).  The buttons are still the tulip shape, and the tuners themselves are Gibson (says so on them).  So if not original I suspect only the buttons have been changed as there's absolutely no tell tale sign that the tuners have ever been off the headstock.  Obviously that's not an absolute guarantee but if the whole tuner set was changed out they were replaced like for like with Gibson tuners.  Personally I think they look better in metal even if it does happen to make it non-original.  Mind you, there's all sorts of stories about parts bins going empty and substitutes being made.  So even if they are not "to spec" it doesn't necessarily mean they are not factory fitted.

     

    I am not a trainspotter, and only wear an anorak for purely practical purposes.

     

    Cheers, Reg.

     

     Obviously hit some wrong buttons there, but ho hum....

  • stateitstateit Posts: 55Member

    Seeing the mentions of The Oysterband rang a bell in my head. 

     

    Saw them at Fairport Convention in 1984. I was 17 then. I lived nearby, my mate lived in Mollington which is just over a hill from Cropredy, It was an annual bash that we looked forward to each year.

     

    Underage drinking took us to Cropredy quite often where I remember we'd quite often be lusting after Dave Pegg's daughter when we caught sight of her, who was that unnatainable couple of years older than those in the motley gang we were...

     

    Ho Hum. As 23rd says :  'There are no idle thoughts' image 

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    I started going to Cropredy back in about 1981, when it was a festival of between three and four thousand.  I would have been there in '84 as well. Around 20,000 these days.  Wadworths still do the bar.

     

    The Saturday of 1987 was monumental.  But not because of the music.  To save queuing at the bar (wasn't anywhere near as efficient getting served as it is these days) my wife and I used to buy ten pint rounds.  Two of those old four pint containers (the ones with the pressure relief in the cap), plus two pints in mugs.  We bought four rounds on that day - 20 pints each!  My missus used to like a pint.  Second date she drank 13 pints, I could only manage 11.  I think I decided that's the girl for me on that evening!   The joys of youth.  I sometimes wonder how we ever survived past our 20s.  Almost abstemious by comparison these days.

     

    Highlight of last year was Alice Cooper who did Cropredy as the last night of his European Tour.  As he said on his Facebook page:  "Who'd have thought it?  The folk crowd at Cropredy were the best rock crowd in the whole of Europe"!  Brilliant show.

     

    We'll be there yet again second weekend in August this year.  If it's not chucking it down we have a tradition of having a pint with Bill.  We go to the Red Lion on Thursday lunchtime after setting up camp and cooking lunch.  We buy a couple of pints and go and sit in the grave yard opposite.  We sit on a tomb that opposite has another tomb that contains Bill.  One part of his inscription contains his name written as W.Anker.  Oh well, it amuses us.....

     

    Last time I saw Oysterband was, let me see, oh yes, last Saturday night in Islington.  And the time before that, mmm, errrr, oh yes, the previous Saturday in Bury St. Edmunds.  Did I mention I was a fan?

     

    Cheers, Reg.

  • Derek_RDerek_R Posts: 1,678Member

    Cool thread, I've only just spotted it!

     

    The Saturday of 1987 was monumental.  But not because of the music.  To save queuing at the bar (wasn't anywhere near as efficient getting served as it is these days) my wife and I used to buy ten pint rounds.  Two of those old four pint containers (the ones with the pressure relief in the cap), plus two pints in mugs.  We bought four rounds on that day - 20 pints each!  My missus used to like a pint.  Second date she drank 13 pints, I could only manage 11. 

     

    Bloody 'ell. I'm impressed. I don't think I've ever drank more than eight pints in one session - and that left me feeling so ill I swore never to do it again. These days four is about as rock'n'roll as it gets, and that's only on special occasions.

     

    A friend of mine has played Cropredy a few times. He also plays bass for Phil Beer (of Show of Hands) when Phil goes out with the Phil Beer Band. The net result of this connection is that my little Yamaha amp that I use for small gigs has Dave Mattacks name sprayed on it because it used to be his monitor in his Fairport days (my buddy gave it to me in exchange for a wireless guitar system that I never got on with) and I was also fortunate enough to have done a few gigs with Phil Beer many years ago. Phil's a top bloke and a great great player.

     

    Steve Knightley, I haven't met - but what a great songwriter!

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    We look back now with horror at the fact we used to be able to drink that much.  Not sure how the general opinion that binge drinking is a new phenomenon was formed?  We weren't alone.

     

    Agree regarding Phil Beer.  The man is a legend.  On multiple instruments.  Makes you sick

     

    My Steve Knightley gig and first venture into music promotion is a week today.  Finally heading towards a sell out - been promoting the tickets since December, but 50% of sales have been in the last three or four weeks.  If it goes well and I get positive comments back from other people in the vilage attending I'm thinking of doing it a couple of times a year.  But it's hell of a lot of work to organise and promote while also having a full time job.

     

    Cheers,  Reg.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Last night was fun.

     

    As part of his Grow Your Own Gig tour of UK Village Halls I put on Steve Knightley in my local village hall.  It's deliberately designed to be fairly low key and intimate.  We were aiming for around 100 tickets sold and we just about got there.

     

    It's the first time I'd done any event promotion and I must admit it was a bit nerve wracking, having been promoting it since December, as to whether enough people would turn up to make it worthwhile.  In the end the bulk of the tickets sold in the last three weeks - I sold the last pair about three hours before doors.

     

    Steve put on a great show and while about 50% of the tickets sold online to fans, some of whom traveled some distance, the rest were people from the village most of whom had never heard of either Steve, or his band (Show of Hands).  However, everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed it and Steve won some new fans last night.  A significant number of people from the village enjoyed it so much they also encouraged me to arrange some more events so I'm now maybe thinking that a Spring and Autumn concert each year might be fun.  I'm wondering if I can unleash someone like Martin Simpson on an unsuspecting village next......   I have to think about it!

     

    Quite a bit of work to do in the lead up to this concert so work on the Cittern Repair hasn't progressed much this week.  Basically all I've had time to do is whip out the old frets in preparation for refretting.  The fret board has an inconsistent radius where it falls off quite a bit to the sides.  So I'm debating whether to tidy up the radius - I think I probably shall, but will give it a good going over with a radius template up and down the fretboard to see exactly what's what before making the final decision.  I hope to get a few hours working on it over the weekend so the next installment in the Repair thread should be early next week.

     

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,101Member

    Well done on putting that gig on Reg - quite an undertaking, you are a brave man to do that, although I'm sure it must have been a fun adventure too. Put another way, you are possibly a nutter, but I'm glad it worked out!   I have never heard of Steve Knightley - apologies if you've mentioned him before - I will have to go look him up.

     

    And will look forward to more Cittern-related updates in due course (no pun intended...).

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Quick question to the assembled experts.

     

    It's one of those dumb things that I've never really taken any notice of.

     

    Are all string ball ends the same size?

     

    The reason I ask is I'm about to do the Engineering Drawing for a new tailpiece for the Cittern repair.  The old one was a bit naff and impossible to change the strings on without unscrewing and taking off the whole tailpiece - not the best if you just need to change one string during a gig.

     

    So over the last couple of months I've been designing in my head a replacement tailpiece and am about to draw it out properly.  I'd like to recess the ball ends so they are not sticking out on display and therefore need to know what size the recess should be.  And then the question suddenly occurred to me, are they all the same size?

     

    My gut feel is that by and large with all common string brands they are.  But my gut has a nasty habit of misleading me into the unforeseen need for a swift change of underwear.

     

    What's the general opinion?

     

    Cheers,  Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,101Member

    I've never really checked, but my feeling is that generally they are all pretty close within the major brands, and also all the budget brands I've seen - so I'd say it would be sensible to design for that kind of size, and if there are any string manufacturers who choose to go much bigger, and you can't use their strings - well that's just too bad for them really! 

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,999Member, Moderator

    And then there's Fender Bullets.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Jocko, good point.  But I don't think I'll be contemplating them on an acoustic instrument.  My knowledge is sparse in that area, but I don't think they would do bullets in Bronze or Phosphor Bronze would they?  my understanding is Fender's marketing blurb positions the bullets as increasing sustain is string through solid bodies.  Whether they actually do increase sustain is a matter of conjecture, but that's getting off topic......

     

    Cheers, Graham.

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,999Member, Moderator

    They are shaped to fit Fender Trem blocks and Eyelets.  I was just being naughty throwing them into the mix!

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