I have been playing Andy Manson guitars for the last 30 years. I bought my first 6-string ‘Heron’ from a guitar shop in London in 1984. Immediately struck by its bright, full bodied sound, its amazingly slim neck and beautifully sober design, it became the major component in all my singer-songwriter work. Mahogany back and sides, first class spruce table, the instrument has in no way lost anything of its tone over the last 30 years. If anything, I think it’s got better. It’s been refretted and oil-varnished, to match the finish of the 7-string.
As the Manson brothers were based in Crowborough at the time (and I in Sevenoaks) quick trips for minor adjustments were easy and meant that the contact was maintained. When I needed a custom 7-string guitar built in 2006 for a new show ‘Passage’, Andy was the obvious choice. It all started with a phone call to check I wasn’t mad, then a visit to Crediton, where he was then based before moving to Portugal. We talked of sound (more of everything) shape (slightly bigger than the Heron, with a cutaway) and woods (spruce, mahogany, ebony and 100 year-old rosewood).
In generally terms I didn’t see the need to change direction from the 6th string model I loved. For the new guitar I asked for a two octave range on the top E (extended fretboard) and a lever to fast-drop the bottom E to D. The final intonation work and installation of the Custom Fishman Ellipse Blend pickup and were done by Bill Puplett.
The bottom A strings are hand made by Malcolm Newton (.080) and the other six (standard tuning) are D’Addario EJ26s (.011 - .052) Phosphor bronze.
Over the last 8 years I’ve been able to transfer most of my singer-songwriter repertoire onto this one instrument (the piano I regularly played for some of the titles in concert has transcribed fairly easily due to the wide range and possibilities of the 7-string). Given the endless tonal and dynamic possibilities this unique instrument offers, I am conscious of being the weak link in the chain.
Today with this second instrumental album, PERSPECTIVES, I have to say that this 7-string guitar - originally ordered for a specific show in Orléans Cathedral 2006 - has not only become the most significant source of my musical inspiration but also a good friend! Enjoy.