30. Simon & Patrick SP6 acoustic
THE Tanglewood acoustic was OK, but there came a time when I decided I needed a more serious acoustic. That was where this delightful cedar-bodied Canadian beauty came in. At one stage in the early 2000s, a dear friend even offered me the long-term almost-permanent load of a beautiful, well-worn 1964 Gibson acoustic and foolishly I declined, saying I didn’t think I was worthy of it. (I wasn’t, but that’s another matter.) I ended up in Guitar Village in Farnham, Surrey with a Simon & Patrick in my hands and another serious jones! It was love at first strum. I didn’t buy that one, but it became the latest obsession. I ended buying a secondhand damaged-and-repaired Seagull acoustic sight-unseen on eBay, because it was cheap and Seagulls were made in the same factory as the Simon & Patricks.
Big mistake. Turns out there was a world of difference between the two marques, most crucially the really strange-feeling V-shaped necks on the former. So back that one went on eBay, minus the rather nice hardshell gigbag it came with – and off I headed to Trevor Durrant’s in Colchester, where he did me a really good deal on an SP6 Cedar.
It’s a brilliant-sounding guitar – one which has matured very well in the 15-odd years I’ve owned it, a sign of a decent bit of timber in that Cedar soundboard, even if it is rather soft and is now covered in little dings. Quite how well it had aged only became apparent when Owen paid a flying visit from California a couple of years ago and picked it up, having not heard it in the best part of ten years. Ears of a bat, that boy. He simply couldn’t quite believe how different it sounded! The sound has enough detail for my cack-handed attempts at finger picking, but it’s when you use a flat-pick and strum big, open chords that it really comes to life.
Foolishly, I’d opted for the more expensive electro-acoustic version. I should’ve known the fitted undersaddle piezo wouldn’t be a patch on a Fishman, even with its fancy B-Band preamp. I persevered with the pickup for years, but eventually gave in and fitted another Fishman. It now sounds as good plugged in as it does acoustically. I don’t gig it all that often – its usual home these days is on the wall of the control room at our studio, Rooks Yard, where all manner of really good players have used it for tracking on sessions.