Concert in Bedford

This event is special because it features three Bedfordshire artists, ok, one of them is via the U.S. but it counts! I will be performing on several guitars by Michael Edgeworth and I will play music by Bedfordshire composer, Paul Ibbotson as well as my own compositions.

  1. Bunyan Meeting Church (Mill Street, Bedford MK40 3EU)
  2. 12 of July, 2018 at 7:45 pm
  3. Tickets: £10 (General), £5 for Students under 18 
  4. For more information: mtedgeworth@hotmail.com and to pre-book your tickets, go to: www.valeriehartzell.co.uk/events

Parking: Lurke Parking is free after 6 pm  For more information on Council Car Parks: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-travel/parking/car-parks-public-and-private/  

What Paul says about his music:

"When I hear great music I often find myself saying "yes! yes! that's what it feels like to be sad, happy, playful, annoyed, distracted, confused" or whatever, so for me music can communicate an emotion or an experience or whatever it might be with more efficiency, accuracy and power than anything else I know of - definitely more so than language. And its fun. Its fun to listen to and its fun to write. For me all the musical techniques and theory are at the service of telling that story and when they become the story themselves I start to disengage. The trick is write from your experience with your own voice but leave enough room in music so that others can see themselves in it too. Then you stand a chance of communicating something important and in a very small way you're responsible for creating something that wouldn't be around if you hadn't made it - that's a nice idea. "

I interviewed Michael about his shop and about his becoming a luthier:

"So, this guitar interest/passion developed in my young teens; I used to play electric bass and it must have developed from there somehow. I was always artistic and skilled at art but I'd never had any desire to build anything else, and still don't.

I went to Newark School of Guitar Making at 16 where I stayed for almost two years under the tutelage of James Lister, and it gave me a solid foundation. That year I was mesmerized by a guitar collection called Granary Guitars which had many guitars by old luthiers in it, I would love to see it again. After leaving I continued living away from home, working and renting a workshop. The problem was that guitar making requires all your time to make any real progress, as well as money. Finally I'm in my current workshop, at the tranquil Bromham Mill, in a luthier's natural state, alone and constantly working, which is a good recipe for me.

I think guitar making is a very specific 'calling'. The devotion required is really touching! Around 200 hours per guitar currently (though the guitars are fairly ornate). It requires a certain assiduous personality who is not afraid to spend the majority of their life in solitude and silence! I for one listen to audiobooks. All. Day. It might be an addiction. Right now I'm listening to The Dark Tower series by Stephen King (it's really good). 

I'm just trying to emerge into the professional world, and having contact and feedback from guitarists is very important to me right now. A current inspiration is a new biography of the guitar maker Paul Fischer, who recently retired after building over 1000 instruments and had an excellent business head. He used build guitars Mon-Fri, fly out to Brazil to source Rosewood over the weekend, and be back to work on Monday. 

Upcoming exploits include a 'Fischer-style' day trip to Belgium to visit a guitarist, and to take dimensions from her amazing guitar. I'm displaying at Royal Greenwich Guitar festival on 11th of July, and taking two guitars to a guitar making competition in Spain in August.

I build in batches of four (as may as will fit in my humidity-controlled cupboard). I also like to test out ideas in batches of four. I'm planning an eight string batch, could do a 630 batch in future, a double top batch etc.
My four current guitars are: one based on Bouchet bracing, two on Ignacio Fleta and one aiming for a Vicente Arias sound with more traditional seven fan bracing. I only just started labelling and numbering my guitars so if you notice the low numbering that's why. My favourite woods are cypress and birdseye maple. I'm still very much a developing luthier, still looking for the sounds I/players like, and trying to improve my workmanship/speed. 

You asked why I use hand tools. I currently use 100 percent hand tools; I make everything, including the herringbone which some people think making it by hand is a lost art.  I don't buy any pre-built parts, it's all M.E. (my initials btw) from a pile of wood, including the marquetry. Excellent hand tool skills will always be important for certain parts of the process. It's also part of my personal romantic vision of guitar making. The process is more enjoyable my hand, and I feel the old luthiers with my favourite aesthetics impart some serious personality with their (excellent) workmanship, varying from guitar to guitar. I think my goal of 24 guitars a year is achievable by hand and that would be enough. I would however consider a router to do the bindings.