Those who read my post Blistering Fingertips will know that I’m rather excited about the fact that I’ve started playing the mandolin again, and that one of the things I discovered at the Folk Night was that my old mandolin was rather quiet, and not particularly up to the job. So I decided to buy myself a new one.
They ranged from around £80 to £140, but sounded a bit tinny for my liking. The shop did, however, have one for £300 (approx $550), which was certainly a cut above the rest. As it was the only one, I was reluctant to buy it: it was more expensive than the others and I wondered what other £300 mandolins might sound like. So we headed out to a large music shop I know about 10 miles from Carlisle.
This music shop had more mandolins, but they were all priced between £50 and £150, and none of them took my fancy. I asked if they had any out the back and was told that they had a Fylde Touchstone Mandolin in their Newcastle branch, which they could get sent over. Fylde are hand made instruments and are considerably more expensive (about £600). The thought of trying one out, to see whether the extra price really could be justified, appealed so I said bring it over. However, they couldn’t get it across for a few days, they would let me know when it was in.
Having run my own business, I’m always amazed when salesmen don’t seem to recognise that I’m giving all the buying signs and ought to be able to close the deal with me on the spot. Worse than that, the guy I spoke to then went on holiday and nobody bothered asking for the mandolin to be shipped across. By the end of last week, when I phoned up, no one knew anything about it. I was to be called back again, but wasn’t, and so it went on.
So I took things into my own hands and tracked down Fylde Guitars, discovering that they were based in Penrith, only about 20 miles down the road from Carlisle.
Anyway, to cut to the point, I was out there yesterday and have bought myself a Fylde Single Malt Touchstone Mandolin. The Single Malt version is actually made:
“…from timbers reclaimed from the Scotch Whisky trade. The top is built up from sections of Oregon pine from a washback vessel from the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye. This vessel held hot spirit continually for around forty years before the timber came to Fylde. The back and sides are quartered oak from salvaged single malt Whisky casks, which have been soaked in maturing alcohol first in America or Spain, then in Scotland, for perhaps ten years before reaching our workshop. The neck and fingerboard are made from sections of both timbers. These timbers seem to suit mandolins remarkably well, adding a deep and mature nature to the sound.”
It is the most beautiful mandolin I have ever seen and it sounds divine. It is another couple of hundred pounds more than the normal Touchstone mandolin, but it is worth it. I know I’ve spent far more money than I intended, but it feels like I went out to buy a Ford Escort and have ended up with an Aston Martin DB9.
My fingertips are getting sore again as I can’t put the thing down. In fact, I think I'll just have another wee go...