I used to play guitar and sing in various groups and choirs at secondary school. (Albany Comprehensive in Enfield). I had a crap guitar but played one of the schools guitars that I loved. I was allowed to borrow this blonde nylon strung guitar, which I faithfully copied in woodwork classes (plus many extra hours). This finally became part of my project work for my GCE. For this project we made a steam box to bend the sides. We made glue by boiling fish and bone from the butchers and fishmongers. The woodwork technician was building violins at the back of the classroom it was his hobby, so he me gave a lot of advice and inspiration, but wisely let me make my own mistakes.
After fitting strings I found the guitar was unplayable.
BUT 40 years later (in 2010) I discovered that the bridge saddle was in the wrong place by 1/4 “ putting the intonation way out. By mocking up the saddle in the correct place it plays perfectly. So I now have a project on the back burner, to strip and repair some dried out glue and reinstall the bridge.
While I was building the acoustic at school – At home, in the shed, I built 2 electric guitars. I remember a white one that I played in a concert at school in front of many parents. I did not use a pick (I don’t know I knew they existed), and the steel strings shredded my fingers. There was blood splatted all over the guitar – I was the original 3 chord punk rocker ten years ahead of my time.
I was copying from pictures of guitars in ‘NME’ and buying parts in electronics junk shops in Tottenham Court Rd (of which in those days there were loads). The second guitar was more sophisticated. I sprayed it metallic blue on the family washing line. I bolted a little 10 watt amp (that I sprayed black), to a speaker in a box that I covered with black leather cloth. I actually remember selling that little set up. I put an advert in the local paper. I so well remember the feeling that the cash was not as valuable to me as the finished product. Exactly the same feeling that I feel today.
At secondary school I was even recorded on two albums in 1969/70 with a limited release on vinyl. I was amazed to find (recently) that we were fingerpicking and singing amazing harmonies and rounds. I will get these tracks off the vinyl and add them to this site. Meanwhile here is the cover “artwork”.
The first music that REALLY grabbed me was ‘Man of the World’ by Peter Green. The first record I ever bought was ‘The contemporary guitar sampler’ which included Ralph Mctell and John Martin. This was followed by a number of ‘sampler albums’ from Island records and Atlantic record, introducing me to Free, Zeppelin etc.
I was a 70s DJ in my teens and twenties earning more than my apprenticeship wages by repeatedly playing the hits from ‘Saturday Night Fever’. As the disco music scene fragmented and I got engulfed by my career I sold my equipment. Guess what? Yes I had made all of my disco equipment and yes as soon as it had gone I felt that empty feeling even though I it owed me nothing had earnt me the deposit on our first home AND I had cash in my hand. I am SO a maker of things … not a sales man.
Musically I spent the following few years recycling every Dire Straits album through my Sony Walkman on many trips to Japan.