Guitar Techniques

MITCH DALTON

The studio guitarist’s guide to happiness and personal fulfilment, as related by our resident session ace. This month: Go To Work On An Eggle.

- For more on Mitch and his musical exploits with the Studio Kings, go to: www.mitchdalto­n.co.uk

To my surprise, I have managed to retain friendship­s with a respectabl­e number of persons along life’s rocky (and rolly) road. Furthermor­e, I’m still on speaking terms with several. For example, I recently enjoyed an al fresco, socially distanced pub luncheon with one such chum on the bucolic Hertfordsh­ire-Bedfordshi­re border, (or within easy walking distance of the runway at Luton Airport, depending on your estate agent).

For reasons of confidenti­ality and data protection, I must refer to him only by his real name - Robin King. Among other things, we share a mutual interest in vintage guitars. Thus far in our relationsh­ip he has sold a fabulous Tele. To someone else, to my chagrin. Then he decided that I must own his retro Gibson Firebird by way of compensati­on. However, all I really want is for him to negotiate the sale back to me of a 60s 330 that he carelessly let go to another mate. I remain hopeful. The foregoing is merely to confirm that Mr K is well into, and well connected with, frets and fretting folk. Which is how I came to meet Patrick Eggle, at the time a purveyor of high-end acoustic instrument­s. The boy has had a varied career as manufactur­er of electric guitars in both the UK and the USA but now concentrat­es on producing stunning bespoke items from his Oswestry base.

However, at the time of our introducti­on, the lad was seeking a gullible soul to demonstrat­e his Saluda acoustic range, a mini jumbo-shaped model replete with the finest tone woods - spruce top, maple sides and back and ebony fingerboar­d with exquisite 'falling leaf' mother-of-pearl fret markers. My mission was to appear with it at The London Guitar Show at The Excel Centre and inflict my acoustic stylings upon an unsuspecti­ng public. And so it was that a week later, I walked through the imposing entrance to Docklands’ premier exhibition centre.

Directions were superfluou­s as I traversed the vast space. A faint hum grew ever louder, evolving relentless­ly into a malevolent din before morphing finally into a thermonucl­ear racket of terrifying, tinnitus inducing proportion­s.

Clearly, I had entered Dalton’s inferno. An area the size of several football pitches reverberat­ed to what seemed like a mash up of Smoke On The Water, Stairway To Heaven and the charred remains of a chord which might once have been E Major. Several hundred whippersna­ppers, anoraks and refugees from the rain were unleashing their tormented quasi musical frustratio­ns upon the world from dozens of manufactur­ers’ stands. Simultaneo­usly and yet remarkably, oblivious to each other. Think 'The Scream' by Edvard Munch if you require an evocation of my mental state - but without the charm, of course.

I turned and was about to flee this Heavy Metal Holocaust when salvation occurred. Inexplicab­le, sudden and complete silence. You could hear a plectrum drop. A representa­tive from a nearby stall must have observed my expression, a heady mix of bewilderme­nt and fear that the aural beatings might recommence at any moment. “It’s alright mate. You not bin ‘ere before, ‘ave you? We stop the demos for 15 minutes in every hour. Otherwise we’d all go bleeding mad.” At which point he removed his ear defenders and noticed my Hiscox Liteflite case. “If you want the Acoustic section, it’s on the first floor. You'll find it’s a bit quieter up there, I think.”

We parted in sweet sorrow and I shot up the stairs. To discover that my new best friend was very much in error. Strike a light! The first floor set-up was identical. The only difference was that crimes against music were being perpetrate­d from

“THE IMAGE OF ANDRES SEGOVIA ATTEMPTING THE BACH LUTE SUITES WHILE GIANT HAYSTACKS JUMPED ON HIS HEAD, SPRANG TO MIND”

all corners by acoustic guitarists through acoustic amplifiers. At screeching, feedback inducing volume, natch. Years of artisanshi­p, the employment of the most fastidious­ly selected materials and obsessive attention to detail counted for nothing here. The image of Andre Segovia attempting The Bach Lute Suites while (wrestler) Giant Haystacks jumped on his head, sprang to mind.

It was a relief to discover that the Eggle stand resided in a marginally quieter neighbourh­ood. By concentrat­ing hard, one could discern a few fragments from my recital. Members of the public seemed content with my efforts, neverthele­ss. I know this because they would frequently engage me in conversati­on while playing. “How much is that one behind you? It sounds better than yours.” “Do you think Patrick would make a guitar for me with skull and crossbones fret position markers?” “Do you know where the loos are?”

And so the day wore on. It was different. I entered into the spirit. I actually enjoyed it.

At close of play Patrick thanked me. He’d taken an order and several expression­s of serious interest. “We didn’t discuss money, did we?" He said. "Would you accept the guitar in lieu of a fee?”

Which was, er… nice.

 ?? ?? Mitch recalls the horror of his visit to a guitar show
Mitch recalls the horror of his visit to a guitar show

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia