PRS Martin Simpson Private Stock
Recently, we caught up with Martin Simpson for an in-depth interview about his new album Murmurs, but we were also fortunate enough to be given a guided tour of five of the acoustic wizard's favoured instruments by the man himself. Here are his instruments, in his words...
PRS Martin Simpson Private Stock
“This is the guitar I use most on gigs, a PRS Signature model and this one has an experimental, prototype kind of finish that’s so super thin, it’s barely there. You know, the less finish it has, the more it can really vibrate, or at least we’re asking if that is the case with this prototype.
"It’s the guitar I use on the road all the time, and because it’s got hardly any finish, it really shows the wear. But it’s a great guitar - Honduras rosewood back and sides, Adirondack top.
“This guitar got left in Canada when I was on tour there. I flew down to the USA, leaving temperatures of 30 below and when I arrived... the guitar didn’t. I just had visions of them putting it in a shed and because it’s got hardly any finish on it, I could almost hear it screaming as it shrank.
"As it turned out, it arrived that night at the venue, at 8.30pm and I had no idea what I’d find in the case. I was so scared, but it arrived in a taxi and it was fine! I took it out of the case and did the gig. I think all of Canada knew it was missing, mind.”
J Romero Custom Banjo
“This was my 60th birthday present to myself, custom-built by Jason and Pharis Romero.
"They live in a place called Horsefly, British Colombia - absolutely the middle of nowhere - she’s got a degree in botany and did the inlays. They make fantastic music too!
“I said I wanted English spring flowers, a wood anemone and sloe blossom. The whole aesthetic is astonishing, for example the back of the drum is painted with oil paint. It’s one of the finest instruments I’ve come across of any kind. I count myself very lucky to own it.
“The pickup is a prototype made by Rick Turner [Alembic, Highlander, D-Tar et al] with his son, Eli. Banjos are notoriously hard to amplify, except with a microphone, but this is the best pickup I’ve ever heard on any instrument, ever. Sound men can’t quite believe it - it’s arcane magic.”
1931 Martin 000-18
“I’m known for playing modern guitars - Sobells, PRSes - so I was more surprised than anyone to find this guitar. I’d been told by friends in the States that this would be a perfect guitar for me, but I’d never even seen one [laughs].
"TJ Thompson, who I think is the kind of King Of Martin Restoration said, ‘You should have one of these guitars.’ So I picked this thing up and it’s astonishing! I use it on the first track of the new album.
“It’s tuned in DADGAD and it’s a very challenging guitar. People sometimes think that guitars should be very easy to play, and I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.
"This guitar is totally unforgiving if you make a mistake - kind of like the Sobell - a little flag comes up and sort of amplifies it! It’s an incredibly ‘modern’ sounding guitar, despite the fact it’s a classic, vintage instrument."
PRS Martin Simpson Private Stock - Honduras rosewood
“This is also one of my PRS Signature guitars. This one is made of Honduras rosewood and has a pernambuco (Caesalpinia echinata) neck which is what they make violin bows out of; a very dense hardwood.
"I tend to keep this guitar with very light gauge strings on it, which is very unlike me, but it just loves it for some reason.”
Fylde Custom Resonator
“This a Dobro-style resonator in a guitar that was made for me by the lovely Roger Bucknall at Fylde Guitars. It has a cocobolo back and sides and an Engelmann spruce top.
"Today I’m running it into 1958 Magnatone and it’s so musical with that vibrato. There’s something so gratifying about it, and that’s what I’m looking for constantly - a sound that leads me.”